If you’re looking for a supplement to help boost your muscular energy and fight fatigue, beta-alanine may be for you. Beta-alanine (BA) is a naturally occurring, non-essential amino acid which helps create the compound carnosine in your body. Carnosine helps buffer high acidity levels in your muscles caused by high-intensity bouts of exercise.
BA improves high-intensity exercise and strength training by delaying muscle fatigue and increasing muscular strength and output.
How it works
One way our body generates energy during high-intensity activities is called glycolysis. Essentially, glycolysis the breakdown of carbohydrates (glycogen or glucose) to produces ATP, the basic currency of energy.
Here is a step-by-step break down:
- We eat carbohydrates
- Our body breaks the carbohydrates down into glucose
- Glucose is stored in the muscles and liver as glycogen
- During high-intensity activities such as weight training, our muscles use stored glycogen to produce fuel (ATP)
- One bi-product of this energy system is positive hydrogen ions, which limit force production and increase fatigue by offsetting the pH levels in our bodies.
So let’s sum that up. Lifting weights is awesome (and is more important for fat loss than cardio!), but positive hydrogen ions are bad. How do we solve the problem? You guessed it, beta-alanine.
BA aids muscle fatigue through another compound called carnosine. Muscle carnosine helps prevent muscle fatigue by maintaining normal ph levels in muscle (preventing acidity). It is formed by bonding histidine and BA. Therefore, having more BA in your system helps increase your high-intensity exercise capacity.
How to use and dosage beta-alanine
There are several ways to use BA. The first is to simply take a pre-workout formula with BA as an active ingredient. This will cause help vasodilation and increased bloodflow to muscles during resistance training.
Another way to take BA is to load it. Research shows benefits for loading 6 grams of beta-alanine daily for two weeks followed by taking around 4 grams daily for four additional weeks. The elevated levels of BA in your body will increase the availability of blood carnosine, increasing the benefits. However, as with all supplements, this should be brought up with your doctor before participating in this type of usage. 
Potential side effects
Paresthesia – tingling skin; the itchy, tingly feeling you get in the lips, face, fingers, etc. after BA consumption. Paresthesia is believed to be caused by the BA binding with nerves under the skin though there is not enough evidence to prove this.
While the tingling is harmless, some people love the sensation as it gets them exited to exercise, while others hate it. Either way, the sensation decreases with use as your body becomes more “tolerant”.
Check out more information on other supplements from the PrettyFit team!
- Bex T, Chung W, Baguet A, Stegen S, Stautemas J, Achten E, Derave W. Muscle carnosine loading by beta-alanine supplementation is more pronounced in trained vs. untrained muscles. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2014 Jan 15;116(2):204-9. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01033.2013. Epub 2013 Nov 27. PubMed PMID: 24285150.