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Beta Alanine Benefits

by
author image Gerald Keister
Based in Berwyn, Pa., Gerald Keister has been a medical and health writer for over 14 years. His articles have been published in numerous medical journals and he has authored medical education programs for physicians, academic institutions and health-care organizations. He has a Master of Arts from the Pennsylvania State University.
Beta Alanine Benefits
Bodybuilder working out in gym Photo Credit Hlib Shabashnyi/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

Beta alanine is a nutritional supplement widely used by athletes and bodybuilders to improve performance. This nonessential amino acid occurs naturally in the body and is also found in foods such as chicken, beef, pork and fish. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, the primary fuel for muscle growth. Beta alanine alone, however, cannot be turned into a protein. Its role is to promote high intramuscular concentrations of carnosine, a small molecule composed of the amino acids histidine and alanine. Carnosine acts as a buffering agent that helps maintain an optimal muscle pH range which delays the onset of muscular failure.

Boosts Muscular Anaerobic Endurance

Research proves beta alanine's beneficial effects on muscular anaerobic endurance. A study in the December 2009 issue of “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” reports that beta alanine increases muscle carnosine content and therefore the potential to improve physical performance during high-intensity exercise. The researchers also found that some aspects of endurance performance, such as anaerobic threshold and time to exhaustion, can also be enhanced.

Increases Exercise Capacity

Beta alanine increases exercise capacity so you can train harder and longer. According to a study published in the December 2009 issue of “Amino Acids,” the supplementing with beta alanine increases muscle carnosine concentrations which can ultimately increase your ability to perform high-intensity exercise. Likewise, results of a study in the December 2008 issue of the “International Journal of Sports Medicine” showed that four weeks of beta alanine supplementation can significantly improve muscular endurance during resistance training.

Increases Aerobic Endurance

Beta alanine supplementation also increases aerobic endurance. Researchers writing in the April 2009 issue of “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise” investigated the effect of beta alanine on cyclists, measuring sprint performance at the end of an endurance cycling race. They found that compared to a placebo, beta alanine supplementation significantly enhanced sprint performance.

Increases Muscle Mass

Supplementing with beta alanine increases carnosine concentrations in muscles which will affect your strength, lean body mass, power and endurance gains. The study concluded that concurrent high-intensity interval training (HIIT) along with beta alanine supplementation results in significant increases in lean body mass compared to HIIT alone. Researchers recommend taking between 3.2 and 6.4 grams of beta alanine per day to significantly boost carnosine levels to improve performance and increase lean muscle.

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