Endurance athletes looking to support maximum muscular endurance and improve their performance may include beta-alanine in their diet. The American Council on Exercise finds that in addition to providing optimum muscle power output, beta-alanine also works to promote weight loss by increasing lean muscle mass.
What is Beta-Alanine?
Beta-alanine is a naturally occurring, nonessential amino acid that combines with histidine to create carnosine. Carnosine is a dipetide that is found in protein-rich foods such as chicken, fish and red meat. The American Council on Exercise states that high concentrations of carnosine are found in your skeletal muscles, and in type one and type two muscle fibers. Type one muscle fibers are also called slow-twitch fibers, and they are used in low-intensity exercise. Type two muscle fibers are fast-twitch fibers and are used for fast bouts of power, such as sprinting.
What Does It Do?
Beta-alanine improves muscular strength and endurance by increasing the amount of carnosine in your body, according to the American Council on Exercise. It acts like a buffer during your workout to protect your muscles against acidity and impede muscle fatigue. Unlike other amino acids, beta-alanine does not contribute to protein synthesis or the production of enzymes in your body.
How Does It Affect Weight Loss?
The American College of Sports Medicine suggests that as the amount of beta-alanine in your muscles increases, so does your level of strength and endurance. Muscle is needed to burn fat in your body. Therefore, by increasing the amount of muscle in your body, you decrease the amount of fat in your body. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics finds that including beta-alanine supplements in your diet helps improve your muscle gains, thereby increasing your ability to burn body fat and lose weight.
Beta-alanine is considered to be safe for healthy adults. The American College of Sports Medicine warns that the overconsumption of this supplement may cause skin flushing or irritation. Additional side effects are unknown at this time. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reports that there is insufficient research to determine beta-alanine's effectiveness.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends taking 1 gram to 1.5 grams of beta-alanine before and after your workout. Begin by taking 1 gram once a day to assess your tolerance level. The association states that you can increase this amount to 1 gram twice a day after one week, and 1.5 grams twice a day the following week based on your individual needs. Women who are pregnant, breast-feeding, or think they may be pregnant should not take beta-alanine supplements, according to the dietetic association.
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- American Dietetic Association: Complete Food & Nutrition Guide; Roberta Larson Duyff, MS, RD, FADA, CFCS
- ACSM’s Health-Related Physical Fitness Assessment Manual; The American College of Sports Medicine
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Supplements and Ergogenic Aids for Athletes
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- Nutrition for Sport and Exercise; Marie Dunford, J Doyle