Supplementation of beta-alanine for endurance athletes continues to become more and more popular. Keep reading to learn about its benefits, possible side effects, and proper dosages.
What is β-Alanine?
β-Alanine, also referred to as beta-alanine, is a non-essential amino acid that the body produces naturally. It also aids in carnosine production, a compound that plays a role in muscle endurance during high-intensity exercise. If you are at all familiar with pre-workout supplements, then you have probably seen β-Alanine in many ingredient lists.
While it is most often seen in pre-workout supplements, evidence shows that it is not timing-dependent (a fancy way of saying that it doesn’t have to be a pre-workout supplement). Beta-alanine supplements are used by all types of athletes, not just endurance and ultra-endurance athletes. That is probably all the background information you need. I would hate to bore you with too much science mumbo jumbo, and the rest is not very fun!
What are the Benefits of Beta-alanine for Endurance Athletes?
If you aren’t into reading all the research, let me break down the major benefits of beta-alanine for endurance athletes:
- increases muscular endurance, which leads to an increase in time to exhaustion
- increases anaerobic running capacity (researchers believe this is possibly due to increased muscular endurance and a reduction in fatigue)
- reduces fatigue, which also leads to an increase in time to exhaustion
If you’re into reading the research, this section is for you:
One study examined the effects of 28 days of beta-alanine supplementation in 22 women. Researchers found a 12.6% increase in physical working capacity at fatigue threshold, a 13.9% increase in the ventilatory threshold, and a 2.5% increase in time to exhaustion in those that took a beta-alanine supplement (Stout et al., 2006).
In other words, the results of this study indicate that beta-alanine supplementation increases muscular endurance, which, in turn, leads to an increase in time to exhaustion. The results also show a decrease in fatigue associated with beta-alanine supplementation. Another study found that a 1.6 g dose of beta-alanine decreased perceived exertion during anaerobic power activities in cyclists (Glenn et al., 2015).
Time for my fun fact section. If you have read my previous blogs, you know I love giving a fun fact about the topic. If you haven’t read my other blogs, ouch…but fine. Sometimes, ingredients are just boring and have no fun facts. Not this time!
The only reported side-effect of beta-alanine supplementation is paresthesia. If you have taken this supplement before, you have probably noticed a tingling sensation once it kicks in. This is what doctors call paresthesia. It has been described as a tingling, prickling, or itching sensation. This is perfectly normal and not the least bit harmful to you.
If it really drives you nuts, you can split your doses in half to be taken twice a day and still reap the benefits. Studies have shown that dividing beta-alanine into lower doses attenuates paresthesia (Trexler et al., 2015). Beta-alanine supplementation appears to be safe in healthy populations at the recommended doses.
How Should it be Supplemented?
To reap the benefits of beta-alanine for endurance, you must take it appropriately. The research suggests that beta-alanine be taken in doses of 2 to 6 grams daily (divided into multiple doses if necessary) for a minimum of two weeks, with greater benefits seen after four weeks (Trexler et al., 2015).
Using up to 6 grams of beta-alanine for loading purposes has been shown to be tolerated with no adverse effects. The tolerable upper intake level is likely much high than that.
Whether you are an ultra-endurance, endurance, or almost any type of athlete, it is likely that you would benefit from beta-alanine supplementation. Remember, you need to take T – 30 daily for at least four weeks if you want to see the best results!
**Use common sense, and always listen to your doctor over a blog post. They know more about your personal health situation than anybody behind a keyboard. If you have underlying medical conditions, always check with your doctor before starting a new supplementation routine.
Glenn, J. M., Smith, K., Moyen, N. E., Binns, A., & Gray, M. (2015). Effects of acute beta-alanine supplementation on anaerobic performance in trained female cyclists. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, 61(2), 161-166. doi:10.3177/jnsv.61.161 [doi]
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. doi:10.1007/s00726-006-0474-z [doi]
Trexler, E. T., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Stout, J. R., Hoffman, J. R., Wilborn, C. D., Sale, C., Kreider, R. B., Jäger, R., Earnest, C. P., Bannock, L., Campbell, B., Kalman, D., Ziegenfuss, T. N., & Antonio, J. (2015). International society of sports nutrition position stand: Beta-Alanine. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-015-0090-y