Supplement Series – Beta-alanine
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For week 4, I thought we would take a look at Beta-alanine!
- Beta-alanine is a derivative of carnosine.
- Carnosine helps to fight fatigue.
- Supplementing with beta-alanine can increase endurance, power and strength output, and muscle.
- Consider taking 2-3 grams of beta-alanine and 2-5 grams of creatine 30-45 minutes prior to training.
- Consider taking another 2-3 grams of beta-alanine and 2-5 grams of creatine immediately following training.
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is derived from carnosine. It is naturally occurring in the body but is normally found in small amounts.[i] We can also get carnosine through our diet by eating chicken, beef, fish, and pork. A diet with minimal animal foods or a plant-based diet may have diminished levels of carnosine.[ii]
For those who train, is that carnosine is 3-5 times more prevalent in the muscle tissues most commonly associated with sports like CrossFit, weightlifting, powerlifting, sprinting, etc.[iii]
What does it do?
When we exercise at high intensities (like CrossFit or sprinting), our bodies can become more acidic. As we become more acidic, it’s harder to contract the muscle, and fatigue can result. So, if we reduce the acidity levels in our bodies, we can keep working harder, for longer.[iv]
Remember, beta-alanine is a derivative of carnosine. Carnosine is able to reduce the acidity levels in our body, acts as an anti-glycation agent (think blood sugar control), and is a potent antioxidant. Obviously, carnosine is important, which means beta-alanine is also important. Without enough beta-alanine the body can’t make carnosine effectively, which means that the benefits of carnosine are slowed. Since most people usually have enough histidine (the other part of carnosine), the limiting factor in carnosine synthesis is beta-alanine.[v]
Beta-alanine supplementation can:
- Delay fatigue and total time to exhaustion,
- Increase exercise endurance and total training volume,[vi]
- Increase the anaerobic threshold, power, strength, and muscle mass,
- It may also help with healing, muscle recovery, and muscle contraction.[vii]
How much do I take and when do I take it?
Let’s look to Dr. Stoppani again. He recommends taking 2-3 grams of beta-alanine 30-45 minutes prior to training and then another 2-3 grams immediately after training. Also, because of the synergistic effects of creatine and beta-alanine supplementation, Dr. Stoppani recommends taking 2-5 g of creatine (depending on the form) along with the beta-alanine prior to and following training.[viii]
Beta-alanine supplementation can increase our performance in the gym by delaying fatigue, increasing power and strength output, and increase muscle. Consider Dr. Stoppani’s recommendations supplementing with 2-3 grams of beta-alanine and 2-5 grams of creatine 30-45 minutes prior to and immediately following training.
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[i] Berardi, John, and Michael Rousell. “Beta Alanine Supplementation and Sports Performance.” Print.
[ii] Andrews, Ryan. “All About Beta-Alanine.” Precision Nutrition. Web. 19 May 2015. . Andrews, Ryan. “All About Beta-Alanine.” Precision Nutrition. Web. 19 May 2015. .
[iii] Ibid, Berardi.
[iv] Ibid, Andrews
[v] Ibid, Andrews.
[vi] Ibid, Berardi.
[vii] Ibid, Andrews.
[viii] Stoppani, Jim. “Beta-Alanine (CarnoSyn) Breakdown.” Jimstoppani.com. 15 June 2013. Web. 19 May 2015. <http://www.jimstoppani.com/home/articles/beta-alanine-breakdown>.
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