- By increasing the carnosine concentration of the muscles, fatigue can be delayed significantly.
Β-alanine (C3H7NO2) is a non-essential amino acid. In fact, it is the only beta-amino acid that can be found in nature.
While α-alanine can be found in several nutrient sources including eggs, chicken, vegetable nutrient sources or certain dairies, β-alanine is produced in the body with the help of the enzymes beta-ureidopropionase and β-alanine synthase. Β-alanine is a by-product of carnosine breakdown and also a compound of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5).
How it works and which studies do support its effectiveness
While α-alanine facilitates the use of simple sugars like glucose as energy resources and plays a role in protein synthesis and enzyme production, β-alanine plays different roles. As a by-product of carnosine breakdown, β-alanine increases carnosine concentration in the muscles. Carnosine is a dipeptide, i.e. two joint amino acids, and it plays a critical role in increasing sports performance.
The pH-levels of the muscles lower during workout. When supplying instant energy, hydrogen ions are produced as by-products of fuel breakdown, which reduce pH and cause acidosis, an acidic condition which causes a burning sensation and muscle fatigue.
Carnosine plays a critical role in preventing muscle fatigue, as it works as a buffer that protects the muscles from acidosis, thus delaying fatigue.
As a by-product of carnosine breakdown, β-alanine can also be used as a precursor of carnosine. As an ingredient of supplements, β-alanine is delivered to the skeletal muscles, where it is reverted to carnosine, with the help of the enzyme carnosine synthase. Studies have shown that taking β-alanine might even increase the carnosine levels of the muscles by 64%! 1,2
Increased carnosine levels of the muscles might even increase the buffering capacity of the muscles by 20%! By increasing the lactase threshold, taking β-alanine can dramatically delay muscle fatigue and failure3, and significantly increases the performance of the muscles.
The latest studies have shown that β-alanine is even more effective when taken together with creatine monohydrate. 4 A study has shown that β-alanine and creatine monohydrate synergically strengthen each other's effects. As a result, the performance during workout rises significantly5, there are more lean muscle mass and strength gains as well as better body fat reduction as it would be in the case of taking creatine monohydrate alone. 6
When is it necessary and what are the deficiency symptoms?
Β-alanine is not an essential nutrient, therefore there are no deficiency symptoms.
On the other hand, α-alanine deficiency can occur in rare cases, mostly in the form of neurological problems, stroke, hypoglycemia, diabetes or hepatitis. Long-term deficiency might even cause death.
What quantities should I take? Any side effects?
Always observe the information provided on the leaflet. Based on studies, maximum results can be experienced after 10 weeks of use. 7
Please consult your physician before you start taking any supplement.
Should you have a rare genetic disorder called hyper beta-alaninaemia, you shouldn’t take β-alanine.
Might cause slight erythema if taken in high doses. This is harmless and will go as you lower the doses.
1. Dunnett M & Harris RC: Influence of oral beta-alanine and L-Histidine supplementation on the carnosine content of gluteus medius. Equine Vet J 30: 499 - 504, 1999.
2. Harris RC, Tallon MJ, Dunnett M, Hill C, Boobis L, Coakley J, Fallowfield J, Kim HJ, Wise JA. The absorption of β-Alanine into blood and its effect on muscle carnosine synthesis in human vastus lateralis. In Press. Amino Acids (2006).
3. Tallon MJ, Harris RC, Boobis L, Fallowfield J, Wise JA. The carnosine content of vastus lateralis is elevated in resistance trained bodybuilders. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 19: 725-729, 2005.
4. Zoeller RF, Stout JR, O'kroy JA, Torok DJ, Mielke M. Effects of 28 days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on aerobic power, ventilatory and lactate thresholds, and time to exhaustion. Amino Acids. 2006 Sep 5.
5. Harris, R. FASEB. Effect of Combined Beta-Alanine and Creatine Monohydrate Supplementation on Exercise Performance
6. Hoffman J, Stout JR, et al. Effect of creatine and ÃŸ-Alanine supplementation on performance and endocrine responses in strength/power athletes. In Press. International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (2006).
7. Hill, Harris, Kim, Harris, Sale, Boobis, Kim, Wise. Influence of beta-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity.Amino Acids. 2006. July 28
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