With literally hundreds of different supplements available and so many
that are based on bogus claims and ridiculous hype, it’s almost
impossible to find even one that delivers results. If you’ve rummaged
through the garbage of the supplement scrap heap, you know that finding
any science or real-world proof is a waste of time. Beta-Alanine is the
exception. Finally, a supplement that actually lives up to its claims.
Beta-Alanine efficacy is backed by major university, peer-reviewed
studies performed on humans, not a cell, rat or goat study upon which
other products typically base claims. The science behind beta-alanine is
simple, it makes sense and it works. The information on this site, was
designed to be used as a beta-alanine guide and is organized in a
hands-on, easy-to-follow approach manner- with no fancy biochemistry or
What is Beta-Alanine and where do we get it?
Beta-Alanine is a non-essential amino acid and is the only naturally
occurring beta-amino acid. Not to be confused with regular alanine,
beta- alanine is classified as a non-proteinogenic amino acid, as it is
not believed to be used in the building of proteins.The greatest natural dietary sources of beta-alanine are believed to be
obtained through ingesting the beta-alanine containing dipeptides:
carnosine, anserine and balenine, rather than directly ingesting
beta-alanine. These dipeptides are found in protein rich foods such as
chicken, beef, pork and fish. It is predominantly through ingesting the
dipeptide carnosine that we ingest most of our beta-alanine, as the two
other dipeptides are not found nearly as plentiful in our typical
coniferous diet. However, obtaining beta-alanine through these
dipeptides is not the only way, as our bodies can synthesize it in the
liver from the catabolism of pyrimidine nucleotides which are broken
down into uracil and thymine and then metabolized into beta-alanine and
B-aminoisobutyrate. Of course, it can also be ingested through direct
supplementation which is the focus of this article.
Below is a list of the benefits from beta-alanine, supported by
peer-reviewed university research, published in reputable science
What causes our muscles to lose strength,power and endurance during intense exercise?
- Increase Muscular Strength & Power Output.
- Increases Muscle Mass
- Increase Anaerobic Endurance
- Increases Aerobic Endurance
- Delay Muscular Fatigue- Train Harder & Longer
When we exercise, especially when it’s high intensity exercise, our
bodies accumulate a large amount of hydrogen ions (H+), causing our
muscles’ pH to drop (become more acidic). This process is occurring
whether you feel a burn or not.The breakdown of ATP and the subsequent rise in H+ concentrations occur
in all of our energy systems but H+ buildup is most prevalent in an
energy system called glycolysis, which also produces lactic acid. At
physiological pH, lactic acid dissociates H+ and is the primary source
of released H+ ions during exercise, causing pH to drop. It is the
released H+ from lactic acid that causes muscular performance problems,
not the leftover lactate ions as many incorrectly believe. While lactic
acid is the primary source of released H+, it is not the only source. H+
ions are also being released at a rapid rate when you break down the
high energy compound ATP during exercise. With the presence of many
sources during energy production releasing H+, pH drops quickly.
As our muscles pH quickly drops, so does<!--[if
!supportAnnotations]--> their ability to contract forcibly and
maintain a high level of performance throughout your workout session.
Not being able to perform and maintain forceful muscular contractions
and push your body to the limit during your workout session, seriously
hampers your ability to maximally overload your muscles and force new
So how can beta-alanine help us overcome this drop in pH that limits exercise performance?
To understand how beta-alanine works to fight the drop in pH within our
muscle, you must first understand how carnosine works. The reason being
is, beta-alanine’s performance benefits are not direct but realized
through its ability to boost the synthesis of carnosine.
Background on carnosine:
The Russian scientist Gulewitsch was the first to identify carnosine in
1900. Eleven years later, he would discover and identify its constituent
amino acids, beta-alanine and histidine. Seven years later, Barger and
Tutin and Baumann and Ingvaldsen confirmed Gulewitsch’s findings.
However, it wasn’t until 1938 that the first research on carnosine and
its effects on muscle buffering were published.Carnosine is a naturally occurring di-peptide that is found in both type
1 and type 2 muscle fibers, but is in significantly higher
concentrations in type 2 fibers. Type 2 muscle fibers are primarily used
in high intensity strength workouts and are most responsive to muscular
How does carnosine work?
There are a handful of ways carnosine is thought to impact performance
but its most studied function, and the focus of this article, is its
role as an intracellular buffer. Carnosine helps stabilize muscular pH
by soaking up hydrogen ions (H+) that are released at an accelerated
rate during exercise.Our bodies work to keep our pH in balance by utilizing various buffering
systems. Buffers largely work by soaking up H+ to maintain optimal pH
balance, which we need to function most effectively. As mentioned above,
our muscles function best in a specific pH range. When pH drops below
that range, so does muscular performance. By helping to keep us in a
more optimal pH range, our muscles can continue to contract forcibly for
a longer time.
There are a handful of buffering systems that work in our bodies. Some
maintain pH in extra cellular fluids (ECF) outside of the cell, while
others perform their duties in intracellular fluids (ICF) inside the
cell and some perform in both. Our focus in this article is on exercise
performance and, as mentioned above, the primary source of H+ released
during exercise is from lactic acid and ATP breakdown. Take a guess
where this breakdown and release of H+ is occurring? If you guessed
inside our muscles or intracellular, you would be correct. As a result,
the first line of defense in absorbing the H+ is going to be the cell
from intracellular buffers such as carnosine, not from extra cellular
Aside from carnosine being just where we need it, buffering H+ inside
our cells, it has additional, unique attributes that make it really
shine. Carnosine is unique; in that, other natural buffering systems our
bodies use are also used in many other cellular reactions aside from
buffering, watering down much of their buffering abilities. However,
what makes carnosine really exciting, is that by supplementing with
extra beta-alanine, we can specifically and dramatically increase
carnosine levels. How much, you ask?
Researchers have shown that when supplementing with beta-alanine for
just 4 weeks, we can increase our carnosine concentration by 42-65%.
Longer beta-alanine studies going up to 10-12 weeks, show carnosine
concentrations increased up to 80%. This is a tremendous increase in an
already powerful intracellular buffer. It is this large increase in
buffering capacity within our muscles that is largely responsible for
the strength, lean body mass, power and muscular endurance gains that
researchers are seeing from beta-alanine studies.
By boosting carnosine concentrations, with beta-alanine, our type 2
muscle fibers can soak up more H+ and stay in an optimal pH range. By
keeping our type 2 muscle fibers in an optimal pH range, they are better
able to maintain maximal strength and endurance throughout your workout
session and bring on new muscle gains.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who can benefit from beta-alanine?
- Individuals participating in weight training looking to gain muscle mass and increase strength.
- Any individual involved in athletic activities where strength,power and muscular endurance are needed
- Exercise enthusiasts who have reached a training plateau and are looking for a supplement to take them to the next level
Is beta-alanine safe?
While this is not a frequently asked question, it should be. We
understand many people care most about gaining muscle, looking great and
performing at their best. But safety should not be overlooked. We
believe it should actually be the first question asked when considering a
new supplement, even before you question efficacy.
The answer to the safety question is a resounding YES. Studies, going up
to 12 weeks of continued beta-alanine use, have looked at a large array
of blood biochemical, hematological and hormonal markers and no
negative changes have occurred whatsoever. While it is impossible to say
beta-alanine is one hundred percent safe until longer term studies are
complete, we do know that up to 12 weeks of continued beta-alanine
supplementation is indeed safe.Why not just take carnosine instead of beta-alanine?
When you ingest carnosine intact, most of it is broken down in the
gastrointestinal (GI) tract into its constituent amino acids,
beta-alanine and histidine. Some intact carnosine does escape the GI
tract freely but even that amount is quickly broken down in our blood by
the enzyme carnosinase. In a very short time, all the carnosine you
just ingested is either eliminated or broken down into beta-alanine and
histidine. These two amino acids are then taken into the muscle, where
they are converted back into carnosine with the help of the enzyme
Unfortunately, only about 40% of the carnosine you take actually
contains beta-alanine, making it an inefficient source at best. You are
better off, from both efficiency and a financial standpoint, taking
beta-alanine directly. You would have to take substantially more
carnosine just to approach the increased concentrations of
carnosine<!--[if !supportAnnotations]--> achieved by taking the
scientifically recommended dose of beta-alanine. Clearly, taking
beta-alanine is the superior solution to increasing carnosine levels.Shouldn’t I take extra histidine along with beta-alanine since histidine is a component of carnosine?
No, as histidine is already present in high concentrations in muscle,
while beta-alanine is only present only in small amounts. Researchers
have determined that it is beta-alanine that drives carnosine synthesis,
not histidine. Since this has been proven repeatedly in research, there
is no need to supplement with extra histidine to increase carnosine
levels. There are potentially some select populations like vegans,
vegetarians or the elderly that may not get enough histidine in their
diets and are thus deficient, which may compromise optimal carnosine
levels. But, we still don’t recommend taking just extra histidine with
beta-alanine. Instead, we recommend these groups and simply bump up
their total protein intake which will in turn solve their possible
histidine deficiency. For the majority of healthy people, only
beta-alanine is needed as histidine deficiency is rare and no extra
supplementation is needed to increase carnosine concentrations.How much Beta-Alanine is needed to cause performance increases?
Research has shown that you can take an amount between 3.2 grams and 6.4
grams per day to significantly boost carnosine levels and improve
performance. The most recent research, now using 4-5 grams a day, is
showing comparable carnosine concentration and performance improvements
to those using 6.4 g daily. Based off the current research, we suggest 4
grams of beta-alanine a day, with an “optional” 2 week loading phase of
6 grams a day during the first month of use.
How long will it take to start noticing benefits?
Performance benefits typically occur in as little as two weeks, although
some individuals will notice benefits within one week. As carnosine
levels increase, the benefits will follow. The most dramatic results are
generally experienced within the 3-4 week range but they don’t stop
there. Recent research is now showing carnosine levels continue to
increase for a minimum of 12 weeks which is why we recommend staying on
Beta-Alanine for at least three months to optimize your carnosine
Immediate benefits: Many users experience intense vasodilatation/pumps
from the very first dose of Beta-Alanine. Because Beta-Alanine increases
carnosine and carnosine is a powerful precursor in generating nitric
oxide synthase (a group of enzymes necessary for making the powerful
vasodilator nitric oxide), this is an added, immediate benefit of