If you play sports, you most likely took or at least heard about a supplement like beta-alanine, but what exactly does it do? This kind of sports nutrition isn’t as popular as creatine or protein, therefore not every gym rat can answer what does beta-alanine do. Learn five facts about how it helps you in your workouts.
To be honest, we asked a dozen old-timers in our gym, “what benefits whey protein has?”. Try the same, and you are likely to get a more or less accurate answer to this question. But ask them what beta-alanine health benefits are, and you will most likely hear something like “It gives me a tingling sensation on my face and hands” or even more fun “So I understand that my pre-workout complex started working!”. And even the unique “alanine helps me do another repetition in the bench … or is it creatine? …”
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that the body is able to synthesize from other amino acids. It does not have to be consumed with food.
The role of this element is significant not only for athletes but also for any person. Thanks to beta-alanine, the following changes occur in the body:
- muscles contract with greater speed and strength;
- more energy appears;
- blood sugar is regulated;
- the immune system is strengthened;
- the severity of symptoms of menopause decreases.
This amino acid is indicated for athletes while gaining muscle mass and working on the relief of the body. It improves brain function and memory. This is a source of natural energy, which, when ingested in sufficient quantities, can improve mood and increase human activity.
5 Things of What Does Beta-Alanine Do
It’s time to put all the points over “i” in the matter of this well-known/unknown sports supplement! After all, when we have the right information, the proper use of such substances in our sports practice will put our training on a new level and will help us to achieve our dream figure faster. So, what does beta-alanine do?
1. Beta-Alanine removes fatigue during intense cardio workouts
It is a well-known fact, but let’s streamline this knowledge a little. When you exercise at a higher intensity, you accumulate hydrogen ions, which lowers your blood pH and makes you feel tired. Carnosine, the amino acid that beta-alanine helps to produce in the body, serves to buffer hydrogen ions, which allows it to work at a higher intensity for longer periods of time.
Most studies of beta-alanine suggest that this is most beneficial for high-intensity activities, where stress lasts above 2-4 minutes, for example, high-interval supersets.
A study published in the journal of the International Society for Sports Nutrition found that players who took beta-alanine over a 12-week period improved their sprint performance by more than 20 percent. Another study from researchers at the University of Oklahoma found that a beta-alanine supplement significantly delayed the onset of fatigue in women during a maximum cycling test.
Conclusion: In order to get sports benefits from your beta-alanine, take it for long-lasting supersets, cardio, CrossFit, and cycling!
2. Beta-alanine helps maintain muscle mass
A supplement that helps maintain intensity during cardio and HIIT (high-intensity interval training) has great potential for use in fat loss. But what about the loss of muscle mass that often accompanies fat loss? Beta-alanine seems to help there too.
Several studies have examined the efficacy of beta-alanine in combination with HIIT to improve body composition, with relative success. More surprisingly, most of these studies actually found improvement in muscle mass, not just fat loss in the body. Researchers at the University of Oklahoma found that a significant increase in muscle mass was actually observed in a group of amateur athletes taking beta-alanine for 6 weeks of HIIT.
Supporting these findings is a study published in the journal Strength and Conditioning, which reported a significant increase in muscle mass after eight weeks of HIIT in groups of wrestlers and football players.
Placebo wrestlers and a group of beta-alanine fighters during the experiment reduced body fat and lost weight. However, participants in the second increased muscle mass by 1.1 pounds, while in the placebo group, on average, they lost a pound of muscle mass.
Conclusion: Beta-alanine can lead to improvements in fat loss and enhance the body’s ability to retain muscles, and even their growth in such “fat-burning” workouts.
3. Beta-alanine provides greater training volume
At this point, you might think that beta-alanine is only good for cardio. But do not worry, power and game sports enthusiasts have not been ignored by researchers of this useful supplement!
A gradual increase in training volume is one of the most effective ways to increase strength and muscle size. You can do more reps, more sets, or put more plates on the bar.
Complementing the training with beta-alanine, an increase in the total amount of training was shown, ultimately leading to subsequent muscle adaptations in the form of an increase in muscle size. Like its effects in anaerobic cardio activity, beta-alanine, as expected, was able to alleviate fatigue and increase performance in the gym during strength training.
Researchers at the College of New Jersey found that 30 days of supplementing with 4.5 g of alanine per day improved their adaptation to increased workout and perceived fatigue on them.
Conclusion: Beta-Alanine can help you with an increase in training volumes, which ultimately leads to excellent muscle growth.
4. It improves human cognitive functions
In a study published in the journal International Society of Sports Nutrition, researchers found not only improvements in strength among soldiers supplemented with beta-alanine but also the accuracy of fire and speed of firing targets compared to a group of soldiers on a placebo.
A follow-up study from the University of Central Florida found that beta-alanine supplementation caused improvements in cognitive function and performance when simulating situations to avoid accidents.
Beta-alanine supplements increase carnosine levels. Not only is carnosine found in skeletal muscle, but it is also found in large quantities in the brain. The same energy, high adaptation, and delayed fatigue that apply to the muscles can also help anyone whose work or sport requires a high level of tactical thinking.
Conclusion: The presence of beta-alanine in the stack can help you stay clear-headed during vigorous activity, and not only delay physical fatigue.
5. It can make creatine work much more powerful
Many drugs, when used together, give greater results than individually, and the combination of alanine with creatine in sports supplements was no exception. In one study, creatine plus beta-alanine resulted in a significant increase in lean body mass and a significant drop in body fat when exercising for 10 weeks.
A second study, published by Amino Acids, found that adding beta-alanine to creatine supplementation improved athletic endurance in relation to groups that took creatine and alanine alone.
The nuance of the continuous sequence of taking this supplement was also important. In order to take advantage of it, make sure that you take 3-6 grams of alanine every day.
Conclusion: creatine and beta-alanine work great if they are together in the stack. Both also require loading. Thus, whenever you take one of them, take the other!
Most people take this sports supplement just before a workout. However, this approach is too short-term and intermittent for you to notice all the changes that alanine will lead to. Also, most pre-workout preparations contain a too low dose of this substance to be effective.
All the benefits of beta-alanine only occur after the loading phase. The easiest and most effective way to maximize the benefits of beta-alanine is to take it sequentially, as you would with creatine or multivitamins.
We recommend starting with 4-6 grams of beta-alanine per day, as most studies have shown that this is enough to increase the muscle depot of carnosine.
Like creatine, you should adhere to a beta-alanine schedule of about four weeks to maximize your muscle cells. After this loading stage, 3-4 grams will be enough to maintain its acceptable level.
When you start loading, be prepared for a small, harmless side effect of beta-alanine, expressed as a short tingling sensation on your face, neck, or arms. This is most pronounced when taken in large doses, so if you are not a fan of this feeling, then consider dividing the daily dose into two or three smaller ones. That is, about one and a half to two grams distributed throughout the day.
When you move on to the supportive phase of administration, this will not reduce the effect, since the muscle depots will be ready and will help to reveal the full power of this supplement with long-term use.
Symptoms of deficiency
If the body lacks this amino acid, it will immediately become noticeable in condition and mood. Characteristic symptoms of beta-alanine deficiency:
- atrophy of muscle tissue;
- loss of appetite;
- frequent colds;
- decreased sexual activity.
To avoid such symptoms, you should regularly eat lean beef, fish, turkey, parsley, and mushrooms.
Thus, if you lead a sports life, feel free to enter beta-alanine into it, take it in the right proportions, mix it with creatine, and this will really reveal the full potential of this sports supplement, which will lead you to your dream of a beautiful body, strength or speed achievements.
- Harris RC, Stellingwerff T. Effect of beta-alanine supplementation on high-intensity exercise performance. Nestle Nutrition Institute Workshop Series, 76, 61-71.
- Harris, R. C., Tallon, M. J., Dunnett, M., Boobis, L., Coakley, J., Kim, H. J., … & Wise, J. A. (2006). The absorption of orally supplied beta-alanine and its effect on muscle carnosine synthesis in human vastus lateralis. Amino Acids, 30(3), 279-289.
- Hoffman, J. R., Landau, G., Stout, J. R., Dabora, M., Moran, D. S., Sharvit, N., … & Ostfeld, I. (2014). Beta-alanine supplementation improves tactical performance but not cognitive function in combat soldiers. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 11(1), 15.
- Hoffman, J. R., Landau, G., Stout, J. R., Hoffman, M. W., Shavit, N., Rosen, P., … & Ostfeld, I. (2015). Beta-alanine ingestion increases muscle carnosine content and combat specific performance in soldiers. Amino Acids, 47(3), 627-636.
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- Kern, B. D., & Robinson, T. L. (2011). Effects of beta-alanine supplementation on performance and body composition in collegiate wrestlers and football players. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 25(7), 1804-1815.
- Saunders, B., Sunderland, C., Harris, R. C., & Sale, C. (2012). Beta-alanine supplementation improves YoYo intermittent recovery test performance. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 9(1), 1-5.
- Smith, A. E., Walter, A. A., Graef, J. L., Kendall, K. L., Moon, J. R., Lockwood, C. M., … & Stout, J. R. (2009). Effects of beta-alanine supplementation and high-intensity interval training on endurance performance and body composition in men; a double-blind trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 6(1), 1-9.
- Stout, J. R., Cramer, J. T., Zoeller, R. F., Torok, D., Costa, P., Hoffman, J. R., … & O’kroy, J. (2007). Effects of beta-alanine supplementation on the onset of neuromuscular fatigue and ventilatory threshold in women. Amino Acids, 32(3), 381-386.
- Trexler, E. T., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Stout, J. R., Hoffman, J. R., Wilborn, C. D., Sale, C., … & Campbell, B. (2015). International society of sports nutrition position stand: Beta-Alanine. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12(1), 1-14.
- Zoeller, R. F., Stout, J. R., O’kroy, J. A., Torok, D. J., & Mielke, M. (2007). Effects of 28 days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on aerobic power, ventilatory and lactate thresholds, and time to exhaustion. Amino Acids, 33(3), 505-510.
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