If you are at all interested in the ingredients of sports nutrition formulations, you may have heard of Beta-Alanine. This is a very common active ingredient in a range of sports nutrition drinks and other products, but many people have a range of questions about beta-alanine. What is it? What does it do? Is it safe? We have put together answers to some of the most common questions about beta-alanine, so just read on below to find out everything you need to know about beta-alanine and what it can do for you.
What is Beta-Alanine?
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that is naturally produced in your body. Unlike a lot of amino acids, though, it is not used in building proteins. Instead, it combines with histidine to form a small molecule called carnosine. This helps to delay the production of lactic acid, allowing you to exercise for longer and helps you to build endurance. It is used in a lot of supplements because it is a very effective ingredient in helping to support your muscles operating at peak performance for as long as possible.
Benefits of Beta-Alanine
There are four main benefits from an increased level of beta-alanine in your diet: faster development of denser muscle, sharper mental focus, faster recovery between exercise sessions, and, most importantly, a major boost to your endurance and ability to exercise for protracted periods of time.
What Foods Contain Beta-Alanine?
Most of the food sources that you would use as sources for proteins or other amino acids. That means foods like meat, fish, or poultry tend to be high in beta-alanine. It is easy to absorb beta-alanine from food, but many people want to increase their consumption of this valuable amino acid. If you are looking to improve your athletic performance, most diets won’t contain enough beta-alanine to make a difference, and you will want to add supplements to your diet for better results.
How does Beta-Alanine work?
Beta-Alanine provides benefits by combining with histidine in your brain and muscles to create carnosine, a dipeptide that your muscles use to reduce lactic acid build-up and continue working for as long as possible. Beta-alanine does not actually do anything on its own and only does anything useful when it forms carnosine.
What is the difference between Beta-Alanine and Carnosine?
Beta-alanine is one of the building blocks of carnosine. That means that when you add beta-alanine to your diet, the levels of carnosine in your body will increase!
When to take Beta-Alanine
There are three different options for taking beta-alanine supplements: you could try as part of pre or post-workout routines, as a product on its own, or as a combination of the two. The important thing to remember is to take some every day, even if you are not working out on that particular day!
Just like creatine, beta-alanine dosing requires a loading phase. Start with around 3.2 grams of beta-alanine per day for four weeks or so, and then try upping that to around 6.4 grams per day. The more you take, the better the results will be, but you need to ramp up to that and load in responsibly.
Beta-Alanine Side Effects
There are no serious side effects on record as being linked to beta-alanine. Some people experience a tingling sensation known as “paresthesia,” but this is a minor issue. It is not harmful, but also not particularly pleasant. Fortunately, it can be avoided or reduced by adjusting your dosage or the particular beta-alanine products that you are taking.
Is Beta-Alanine Safe?
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that your body naturally produces. That means that beta-alanine is entirely safe and natural, and increasing your intake of it can be beneficial. That being said, supplements include other ingredients, too, and those can be harmful. It is important to check the other ingredients of your chosen supplement to ensure they are safe before you try any. In general, patented, branded beta-alanine products are much more likely to be safe and trustworthy than generic products.
How much does Beta-Alanine Cost?
Beta-alanine supplements can range in price significantly, depending on the dosage, product type, brand, quality, and the outlet you have chosen to buy from. There is no standard price for supplements like this, so you will have to do a bit of research to get the best value for money.