One of the most commonly added ingredients in workout supplements, beta alanine is an amino acid that is characterized by the tell-tale tingling and flushing feeling you get from taking it. Why is there such a fascination with beta alanine in the fitness supplement world? Is it just another cheap filler additive to throw on a label or is there real benefit to adding it to your pre, intra, and post-workout supplements?
Let's take a look at the top 5 health benefits of beta alanine and how it can help you with performance, gains, and overall wellness.
1. Boost Performance with Beta Alanine
Regardless of fitness goals, everyone wants to improve their performance. Better performance means better workouts. Better workouts translate into more lean muscle tissue or more calories burned. If you're an athlete, performance means victory. Beta alanine has been shown across a variety of studies to promote overall performance.
One study published in Amino Acids looked at a collection of studies on beta alanine, concluding that in every study, beta alanine was shown to improve the performance of the subjects taking it to varying degrees. (1)
2. Beta Alanine Increases Endurance
Continuing with the point above, no one wants to be performing a workout then run out of fuel halfway through. Missing out on your workouts may potentially mean missing out on muscle building and fat burning. This is where endurance comes in and beta alanine may be able to help boost your workout endurance.
In a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, beta alanine was shown to delay the onset of muscle fatigue while boosting the anaerobic threshold of the subjects. (2)
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3. Beta Alanine Increases Carnosine Levels
One of the unique benefits of beta alanine is its ability to increase levels of carnosine within the body. Carnosine is a popular anti-aging compound that is also very useful for the development of muscle mass and strength building.
If carnosine is so important then why don't people just supplement directly with carnosine? It's not that simple. Carnosine is notorious for having poor digestibility in the body. Beta alanine is the way around this. Once ingested, beta alanine is converted into a usable and effective form of carnosine. (3)
4. Boost Strength with Beta Alanine
For those of you who are strength and power lifters, you know that every kilogram counts. Supplements can offer you that extra boost you need to crush your personal bests. Beta alanine is one of the most effective supplements you can take for strength.
A study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism demonstrated that when subjects supplemented with a blend of beta alanine and creatine, they saw dramatic improvements in body composition and overall strength gains. (4)
5. Beta Alanine and Muscle Mass
That same study mentioned above also demonstrated that when subjects supplemented with a blend of beta alanine and creatine, the amount of lean muscle mass they gained was much greater than those taking a placebo. What's more, the beta alanine and creatine users also saw an elevated level of testosterone. (4)
Make Your Own Beta Alanine Supplement
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- Hobson RM, Saunders B, Ball G, Harris RC, Sale C. Effects of ?-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino Acids. 2012 Jul;43(1):25-37. doi: 10.1007/s00726-011-1200-z. Epub 2012 Jan 24.
- Artioli GG, Gualano B, Smith A, Stout J, Lancha AH Jr. Role of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine and exercise performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Jun;42(6):1162-73. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181c74e38.
- Saunders B, DE Salles Painelli V, DE Oliveira LF, DA Eira Silva V, DA Silva RP, Riani L, Franchi M, Gonçalves LS, Harris RC, Roschel H, Artioli GG, Sale C, Gualano B. Twenty-four Weeks of ?-Alanine Supplementation on Carnosine Content, Related Genes, and Exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2017 May;49(5):896-906. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001173.
- Hoffman J, Ratamess N, Kang J, Mangine G, Faigenbaum A, Stout J. Effect of creatine and beta-alanine supplementation on performance and endocrine responses in strength/power athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006 Aug;16(4):430-46.