In the world of sports supplements, a small increase in muscle performance can have a lot of benefits. Lots of people want that extra push, that small increase in strength that allows them to complete their last rep or lift a few extra pounds. Sound like you?
If so, you will be interested to hear about Beta-alanine. Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is produced naturally in the body. It aids in the production of carnosine, which is a compound that plays a role in muscle endurance in high-intensity exercise. This way, fatigue is delayed and workouts are more effective. If this interests you, read on!
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- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our Selection: The Best Beta-Alanine Supplements
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know about Beta-Alanine
- 5 Buyer's Guide
- 6 Summary
- Beta-alanine is an amino acid necessary for the synthesis of carnosine.
- An increase in intramuscular carnosine can cause a small increase in muscle performance.
- Before buying a beta-alanine supplement, it is best to be informed about its nutritional benefits, its taurine content, and its value for money.
Our Selection: The Best Beta-Alanine Supplements
The following beta-alanine supplements meet the needs for different types of people. Whether you are vegan, if you want a delayed-release product, or you prefer to combine beta-alanine with other ingredients, you can find a product for you in this list.
Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know about Beta-Alanine
Beta-alanine is an amino acid necessary for the formation of carnosine, a molecule that improves muscle performance. This supplement can help expert athletes who want to increase their resistance during short, high intensity exercises such as Crossfit.
What is Beta-Alanine?
. Vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid, is a vital company for cellular respiration (oxygen metabolism) and the formation of fatty acids and cholesterol, among others. Fortunately, humans hardly ever lack it, as it is part of many different foods.
It is for this reason that the true importance of beta-alanine (at least in the field of sports supplementation) lies in its ability to generate carnosine. Carnosine is a dipeptide, that is, a molecule formed from two amino acids (beta alanine and histidine). It has various effects on your muscles, as shown here (2):
|Function of Carnosine||Explanation|
|pH Regulation|| Together, with bicarbonate, it prevents excessive acidification of the cell interior.
Fights the accumulation of lactic acid (lactate), improving muscle performance.
|Activation of myosin ATPase||It contributes to maintaining ATP (energy) reserves in the muscle.|
|Increased muscle sensitivity to calcium.|| Concentration increases.
Reduces fatigue during high-muscle activity.
|Antioxidant||Captures free radicals that are released during exercise and prevents tissue damage.|
Carnosine also appears to have effects on brain tissue, acting as a possible neurotransmitter. This molecule could treat diabetes, various mental illnesses, and even declines in intellectual function as an effect of aging. Time will tell if these statements are more than just hypotheses (2, 3).
Which is better, beta-alanine or carnosine?
First, it must be broken down by the enzyme carnosinase. This substance breaks down carnosine and divides it again into beta-alanine and histidine, two compounds that can access the interior of muscle tissue. There, they join together to recreate carnosine. (4).
Generally, muscle tissue stores enough of the essential amino acid histamine, and has a relative deficiency of beta-alanine. For this reason, experts believe that this last molecule is the true limiting factor for the synthesis of carnosine. This would mean that beta-alanine intake would be more effective for muscle performance. (2).
Which foods are rich in beta-alanine?
|Chicken and Turkey||Daily consumption (in variable proportions and combined with other foods)|
|Fish|| Daily consumption (in variable proportions and combined with other foods)
Recommended minimum of 2 or 3 times a week.
|Lean meats||Daily consumption (in variable proportion and combined with other foods)|
|Red and Processed Meats|| Optional consumption
Moderation and choosing high quality products are advised.
Unfortunately, vegans and vegetarians do not have as wide a choice as omnivores do if they want to increase their beta alanine levels. Soybeans have been shown to contain a reasonable amount of this molecule (6), although it may not be enough for some athletes.
What are the benefits of beta-alanine supplements?
Beta-alanine supplements do not work the same for everyone. People who respond well to it will notice up to a 55% increase in muscle carnosine levels. In contrast, the increase in people who do not respond well only reaches 15% (8).
Is it possible to know which type of people respond better to beta-alanine? Experts are unsure. There is no direct correlation between baseline carnosine levels and the response to beta-alanine. However, it has been observed that trained athletes tend to respond better to this supplement compared to less active individuals (8).
This is why beta-alanine supplements could facilitate workouts, increasing strength and improving the amount of weight one can lift. Unfortunately, this product does not appear to influence performance in endurance sports (8). Here are some more frequently asked questions about who can benefit from this supplement.
- Is beta-alanine a useful supplement in athletics? Beta-alanine supplements have been shown to be more effective in high intensity, short duration exercises. If you lift weights, or want to improve your sprint, it could help you. In endurance sports like cycling, beta-alanine is not very useful (8, 9).
- Does beta-alanine have a vasodilatory effect? Vasodilation is the widening of blood vessels. The increase in carnosine (after taking beta alanine) could cause this. In some athletes, this can cause a pump effect, increasing the amount of blood reaching the muscles, and thus, improving performance. The theory still needs to be studied (10.11).
- Can I take beta-alanine if I am on a diet? By providing additional strength and energy, this supplement helps improve your exercise routine. Studies suggest (12), that beta-alanine does not assist in weight gain, but rather helps preserve muscle while aiding the loss of body fat.
- Does beta-alanine help with insomnia? Beta-alanine was administered to a group of American military and they were subsequently deprived of sleep. At the end of the experiment, it was observed that performance had been affected in the soldiers who took beta-alanine. Although this supplement does not relieve insomnia, it could lessen the harmful effects of insomnia (13).
- Does beta-alanine treat menopausal symptoms? Beta-alanine has been found to be less effective than treatments used for hot flashes (14). However, this supplement could improve the fatigue symptoms of menopausal women(15).
- Does beta-alanine improve libido? Some people turn to beta-alanine to improve sexual performance, as it can increase testosterone levels and may help avoid problems maintaining an erection. The truth is that there are no studies that have shown that beta-alanine has any kind of positive effect on sexual health.
What negative side-effects can beta-alanine have?
- Paresthesias: Consuming a higher dose than 2g of beta-alanine can cause tingling, tickling, or itching in your hands, known as paresthesias (8).
Is it dangerous? Though it may be an uncomfortable symptom, it does not have any harmful consequences. It usually appears between 60 and 90 minutes after ingestion. Should this happen, it is best to decrease the beta-alanine dose
- Taurine deprivation: Taurine, an amino acid necessary for the proper functioning of the nervous and cardiovascular systems, shares certain transport routes with beta alanine. This can cause a deficiency.
Is it dangerous? Taurine deficiency induced by beta-alanine supplementation has been observed in animals (lab rats). It has not yet been possible to recreate this in humans. However, it is important to consider this and take breaks from your supplements or take a taurine supplement (32).
- Nausea and diarrhea: Some consumers complain of various digestive problems after consuming beta-alanine. This symptom has not yet been officially studied, and is most likely due to an intolerance of the product.
How do I avoid these symptoms? These adverse effects can be alleviated by dividing the daily dose into several doses and taking it throughout the day (30).
- Headache and tachycardia: These symptoms are not usually associated with the consumption of beta-alanine, although there are people who have experienced these symptoms after taking it.
How do I avoid this? If you suffer from a migraine or fast heartbeat after taking beta-alanine, carefully check the labeling of your product. Check if it contains caffeine or other stimulants, as these ingredients are more likely to be the cause of your symptoms (33).
Lastly, beta-alanine should be avoided by pregnant or lactating women and in children. Although no drug interactions have been shown, consult with your doctor before taking it if you take other prescription medication.
This next section will help you choose from the many beta-alanine supplements out there. Without knowing the best purchase criteria, you may be unsure which product is the best for you.
Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, celiac, lactose intolerant, or allergic to any other types of food, you will be able to find a beta-alanine product that works for you. Fortunately, there are plenty of beta-alanine supplements that are allergen-free and plant-based. Remember to check the label and ask the manufacturer if you are unsure of any of the ingredients.
It is also important to note that the tingling sensation caused by excess amounts of beta-alanine could be mistaken for an allergic reaction. If you experience tingling in your hands without any other symptoms, then it is not an allergic reaction, as this is usually accompanied by hives and other uncomfortable symptoms. If you do experience this, stop using the supplement and seek medical help.
Slow-release beta-alanine products are designed so that the molecule absorbs slowly, minimizing the chance of paresthesias. This allows you to take larger doses (up to 2 grams) without any side effects. It is a great option if you have already experienced the tingling sensation in your hands and want to try something different.
Although taking beta-alanine supplements has not been directly linked to taurine deficiency, some people may be concerned about this possible side effect. This concern is definitely justified. After all, taurine deficiency can lead to heart disease and other abnormalities.
Taurine deficiency can usually be avoided by taking breaks from time to time while taking beta-alanine supplements. Since experts have not clearly defined when this break should be taken, the best thing to do would be to purchase a supplement that also contains taurine if you are worried about a deficiency. The recommended daily dose in this case would be 2-3 g (34).
Preservation and Expiration
Storing beta-alanine is no different than storing other supplements. It should be stored in a cool, dry place (not in the fridge or freezer), away from sunlight and potent odors. Supplements can definitely lose their effectiveness after the expiration date.
If you are looking for a supplement that improves your performance at the gym, consider beta-alanine. This amino acid derivative could help you extend your workout routine, which can result in increased muscle gain and fat loss in the long run.
People who are just starting to play sports or workout might benefit more from healthy eating and a light exercise program. But if you are a fitness buff who wants to push their limits, beta-alanine will raise your carnosine levels, keeping fatigue at bay. Why not give it a try?
If you enjoyed this guide to beta-alanine supplements and found it useful, please leave a comment and share with your friends!
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