Beta-alanine (B-alanine) is a non-essential amino acid. It works hand-in-hand with carnosine, another amino acid that enables muscles to work at higher-than-normal intensity. Beta-alanine is a precursor to carnosine and the amount present determines the amount of carnosine that can be actively used by muscle tissue.
How it works
Beta-alanine is actually part of the base of amino acids that make up the complex amino acid, carnosine (in tandem with histidine). Carnosine's role in the body is to maintain the pH balance of muscles during exercise by removing excess hydrogen ions generated during strenuous work outs. The closer the muscles are to their optimal pH balance, the better they perform. Beta-alanine's specific role in this process is to signal how much carnosine should be delivered to the muscle tissue. Thus, with an increased presence of beta-alanine comes an increased uptake of carnosine in the muscles.
To understand the benefits of beta-alanine, you must first understand the advantages of carnosine, as beta-alanine alone does nothing in particular for the body.
Beta-alanine, in combination with increased intake of carnosine, has been demonstrated to improve muscular endurance. Athletes use it as a performance booster and bodybuilders use it to increase the intensity and length of weight training sessions. There is also some body of evidence that suggests carnosine may fight the wear of the aging process.
Beta-alanine and carnosine give a temporary boost to muscular output and anaerobic endurance. Unlike many claims in the supplement world, this one is backed by numerous authoritative studies that demonstrate its effects.
A 2010 study conducted on elite Belgian rowers found a strong positive correlation between muscle-carnosine concentration and speed over a variety of different distances. Similar results were found in a study of Olympic-level speed skaters in Korea. Some members of the team that researched Korean athletes again tested the effects on cyclists over a 12-week training course, and again saw a correlation between beta-alanine and carnosine levels and performance.
Beta-alanine and carnosine give a temporary boost to muscular output and anaerobic endurance.
Evidence directly connecting beta-alanine with increased muscle gains in strength training is much more ambiguous. Scientific studies to date have focused on performance in elite endurance athletics. There are no studies that specifically focus on muscle development over extended periods of time.
Bodybuilders take supplemental beta-alanine and carnosine on the assumption that the increased muscle endurance shown in studies will translate to their ability to either lift for longer periods of time and/or lift a greater than usual amount of weight.
While direct evidence for muscle growth is still up in the air, several carnosine studies have focused on high-intensity cardio and found an increase in gains with supplementation. A 2007 study looked at a mixed group of participants saw improvements in a cycle test over the course of four weeks and again at 10 weeks, and a 2010 study of cycle ergometry in a group of 44 females showed greater gains in cardiovascular fitness over the coarse of six weeks.
Human studies have shown that carnosine slows the decay of fibroblast cells and in mice, the compound delays overall aging. Research is still in early stages, however, and at the moment, the actual mechanism by which carnosine slows cell decay is not understood.
Beta-alanine has no established recommended daily allowance (RDA). Generally, intake is based on weight, and amount of time you've been taking the amino acid. The RDA, outlined in the table below, is specifically formulated for bodybuilders and athletes.
The studies mentioned previously research the use of higher daily dosages, ranging from 3.2g (3200mg) to 6g (6000mg), taken prior to exercise.
Beta-alanine can be purchased in either capsule form or in flavored and unflavored powders. Capsules will generally contain 750mg to 1000mg of beta-alanine. Powder is typically sold in tubs of 200g to 500g.
Regardless of the form in which you purchase beta-alanine, it's important to check the ingredients to see if the supplement contains only beta-alanine or the full amino acid, which includes carnosine. As discussed previously, beta-alanine is not a functional compound if there is no carnosine in the system.
Beta-alanine is most known for creating a tingling feeling or a hot, flushing sensation immediately after ingestion. This is caused by vasodilation, which may also create a sensation of throbbing veins. These side effects may be worrisome to first-time users, but unless you have a health condition that makes the use of beta-alanine a risk, these side effects are usually harmless.
At present there are no other known side effects connected to beta-alanine supplementation. You should always talk to your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement.
While studies spanning a limited timeframe indicate that beta-alanine supplementation is safe, the long-term effects of regular usage at higher volumes remain unknown.
There is a rare condition called hyper beta-alaninaemia, in which the body retains too much beta-alanine. This condition can impair central nervous system function. Hyper-beta-alaninaemia is naturally occurring and has not been shown to be caused by supplementation of a specific amount, but nevertheless, those suffering from the condition should avoid further consumption of beta-alanine.
Most beta-alanine supplement manufacturers advise women who are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant, to refrain from implementing this amino acid to their fitness regiment, unless specifically approved by their physician.
Beta-alanine and carnosine occur naturally in protein-rich foods, particularly meat, fish, milk, eggs, and cheese. Alanine can be found in a range of vegetables, but as carnosine's name may indicate, it occurs naturally in only humans and animals. For non-meat eating vegetarians and vegans, supplementation is the only way to get enough beta-alanine to aid in muscular endurance.
It's always important to consult a doctor before beginning a new workout regimen and supplement plan, especially if you have specific health concerns. However, it's extremely important with beta-alanine as this amino acid is almost always used to significantly increase workload. The FDA does not regulate beta-alanine and no recommended daily allowance (RDA) has been established.
Pregnant women should not take beta-alanine as a supplement.
Where to buy
Not only can you purchase beta-alanine here at PricePlow, you can save 30% to 50% off of retail prices. Depending on your location, you may be able to save on sales tax as well. Let PricePlow take care of the heavy lifting of comparison shopping so that you can get back to your workout.
- Baguet, A et al.; Journal of Applied Physiology; "Important role of muscle carnosine in rowing performance;" July 2010;" 2005
- Roger C. Harris; et al.; "The effect of a supplement containing β-alanine on muscle carnosine synthesis, ventilatory threshold and exercise capacity in Korean cyclists, during 12 weeks combined endurance and weight training"
- Hill, CA et al.; Amino Acids; "Influence of beta-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity;" February 2007
- Walter, AA et al.; Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research; "Six weeks of high-intensity interval training with and without beta-alanine supplementation for improving cardiovascular fitness in women;" May 2010
- Hipkiss, A.; Experimental Gerontology; "On the enigma of carnosine's anti-ageing actions;" April 2009
- R.C. Harris, et. al; Amino Acids; "The absorption of orally supplied beta-alanine and its effect on muscle carnosine synthesis in human vastus lateralis;" May 2006
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Aug 18, 2015 Blog Post:
Magnum OPUS: Intra Workout pHuel with a New Flavor
Magnum OPUS has a new flavor out, so we dig into what makes this supplement tick with our Magnum Opus ingredient analysis! Check out creamsicle!
Jul 21, 2015 Blog Post:
Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged: Kris Gethin’s Monster Pre Workout!
Pre-Kaged is the much anticipated pre workout from Kris Gethin and Kaged Muscle. Will it live up to expectations? The ingredients look MONSTROUS!
Jul 18, 2015 Blog Post:
Athletic Edge Steel Edge – Sharpening the Pre Workout Game
Athletic Edge Steel Edge is the new AEN pre workout. A high stim, focus-heavy pre designed to sharpen all aspects of your fitness pursuits!.
Jul 16, 2015 Blog Post:
PreCre: Everything RIGHT in a Pre Workout Supplement
Muscle Elements PreCre is a transparently dosed pre workout that hits all the right notes, energy, focus, endurance and carbs to give you a great workout.
Jun 25, 2015 Blog Post:
APS Morph 3: Pre Workout Stimulant Powerhouse!
APS Morph 3 is the newest incarnation of Mesomorph, a very powerful pre workout from APS Nutrition, and the latest to include eria jarensis extract.
Jun 24, 2015 Blog Post:
Jack3d 2015 Updates Released
Jack3d has been updated for 2015 by USPLabs, revamping a majority of their ingredients and providing a smoother stimulant experience!
Jun 23, 2015 Blog Post:
Cellucor BCAA Revamped for G4 Series!
Cellucor is updating their Cor-Performance Series BCAA supplement with a shiny new label and revised ingredient profile.
Jun 16, 2015 Blog Post:
MuscleTech #Shatter SX-7 Black Onyx: Several New Ingredients
Muscletech's #Shatter SX-7 Black Onyx is the latest addition to the ever expanding SX-7 series of products, and has several new ingredients.
May 27, 2015 Blog Post:
Magnum Limitless: New Pre-Workout Focusing on FOCUS
Magnum Limitless is the new pre workout supplement coming in June. We don't know much about the Limitless ingredients yet, but we're guessing FOCUS!
May 26, 2015 Blog Post:
War Juice Pre Workout – The Ultimate Pump-Free Energy Pre?
War Juice is a pre workout from Omega Supreme that promises insane energy and STUPID pumps, but it lacks any and add pump-inducing ingredients!
May 19, 2015 Blog Post:
BAIBA: New Ingredient Generates Exercise in a Pill?!
BAIBA, or 3-Aminoisobutyric Acid, was discovered as an "exercise molecule", since we produce it when we work out. Can supplementing BAIBA burn fat?!
May 16, 2015 Blog Post:
SP250 – Gaspari’s Unique New Pre Workout for 2015
SP250 is Gaspari Nutrition's much anticipated new pre workout supplement, with some completely new ingredients. We analyze the new SP 250 review!
May 12, 2015 Blog Post:
Rich Piana ALL DAY YOU MAY – The 5% Workout Enhancer
Rich Piana's ALL DAY YOU MAY is a post workout supplement that provides joint support and has a few different ingredients. But is it different ENOUGH?
May 04, 2015 Blog Post:
LEGION Pulse: Pre-Workout Taking Over Amazon
Legion PULSE is a pre workout supplement from Mike Matthews of Muscle For Life. It's a unique open formula, but the reviews of poor quality concern us
Apr 30, 2015 Blog Post:
Altius Pre Workout Review (Jacked Factory)
ALTISU PricePlow is back with a full in-depth review of Jacked Factory's fantastic pre-workout, Altius.
Apr 13, 2015 Blog Post:
PreGains HodgeTwins Pre-Workout – Twin sized GAINZ!
Apr 09, 2015 Blog Post:
MusclePharm Energy Drink: Energy Sport & Energy Sport Zero
MusclePharm Energy Sports Zero brings all the kick you want in an energy drink plus some workout enhancing ingredients. #MPNation takeover continues!
Apr 08, 2015 Blog Post:
Cellucor C4 Mass – A Bulker’s C4.. with FIBER?!
Cellucor C4 Mass is the new version of the C4 pre workout supplement that's stimulant-free, and hopefully bring gains to bulkers to build muscle!
Mar 31, 2015 Blog Post:
Altius Pre-Workout by Jacked Factory: The G.O.A.T?!
The Altius Pre Workout by Jacked Factory is an Amazon product that is absolutely LOADED and has tons of great reviews. We analyze the ingredients.
Mar 18, 2015 Blog Post:
MusclePharm Gainz: Post-Workout Partner to Wreckage!
MusclePharm Gainz is the new post workout supplement for #MPNation that includes 2g creatine hydrochloride, 6g BCAAs, 2g beta alanine, and more!
Feb 25, 2015 Blog Post:
Performix Ion – What’s All the Hype About?
Performix Ion is a pre workout supplement with new delivery technology: Terra Beads. But with underdosed creatine / muscle-builders, is it worth it?
Feb 24, 2015 Blog Post:
Maximum Shred SCAM – $87 Product with $4 of Ingredients
Maximum Shred is a supplement that is not only overpriced, it's maliciously marketed. We expose this scam and analyze the Maximum Shred ingredients.
Feb 23, 2015 Blog Post:
Prime MAX-HP – High-Caffeine Pre Workout!
Prime MAX-HP is a pre workout supplement that is high in caffeine (400mg) and has an incredible new ingredient - but is it dosed properly? We review.
Feb 18, 2015 Blog Post:
Rich Piana 5% KILL IT Pre Workout – Does it Kill?
Rich Piana's KILL IT Pre Workout Supplement from 5% Nutrition looks to have some decent energy and pumps, but there's some confusion to figure out..
Feb 12, 2015 Blog Post:
SAN MegaTron – Stim-Free Supplement as Good as its Name
SAN MegaTron is a stimulant-free pre workout supplement that has exciting doses of both nitric oxide boosters AND focus enhancers. And what a name!
Feb 10, 2015 Blog Post:
MusclePharm Wreckage – Likely to Live Up to its Name
MusclePharm Wreckage is the new hardcore pre workout that has an open ingredients formula and is nearly guaranteed to give you AGGRESSIVE workouts!
Jan 27, 2015 Blog Post:
True GRIT PRE – Open Formula Pre Workout
True GRIT PRE is a non-proprietary pre workout supplement that brings a few new ingredients to the table. We look at the True GRIT Pre ingredients
Dec 08, 2014 Blog Post:
Alpha Pro Nutrition UPLOAD Review
Daniel's Alpha Pro Nutrition Review and Log will be completed after he finishes his tub and can write an honest review.
Nov 13, 2014 Blog Post:
MuscleTech #Shatter SX-7 – Quite a Unique Pre Workout
MuscleTech's #Shatter SX-7 is a unique pre workout supplement with herbal ingredients to provide for more energy with caffeine. But is it worth it?
Oct 29, 2014 Blog Post:
Gold Standard Pre-Workout is Here from Optimum Nutrition!
Gold Standard Pre Workout is now out from Optimum Nutrition! We have the first major analysis on the ON Gold Standard Pre ingredients here!
Apr 12, 2014 Blog Post:
Cellucor C4 Ripped – The Fat Burning Pre Workout?!
Cellucor C4 Ripped is the new C4 variation that includes more fat burning ingredients and no creatine for a killer cardio or weight loss workout!
Jul 19, 2013 YouTube Video:
Jack3d Advanced Review - THE Original Formula Replacement
Jul 14, 2009 Blog Post:
Beta Alanine Tingling
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Feb 19, 2018: SO MUCH Beta Alanine ⚠ | Legion Pulse Pre-Workout Review
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Jun 16, 2017: Formutech Endurance BCAA+ Sweet Tea Review
Dec 16, 2016: Cellucor C4 ULTIMATE Review: The C4 to End All C4's!
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