What is beta-alanine?K
Beta-alanine is an amino acid produced in the liver. Beta-alanine has seen a surge in popularity over the last few years. Of all the products contained in the Supplement Database, 36% of them contain beta-alanine, making it the second most popular ingredient behind caffeine.
What is beta-alanine?
Beta-alanine is a non-essential, non-proteogenic amino acid; the body can make it on its own and it’s not used to build new proteins. While the body can make this amino acid in the liver, animal products are a great source. Beta-alanine is mainly used to manufacture carnosine; another amino acid involved in the functioning of skeletal muscle1.
Carnosine is the real star in beta-alanine supplementation. Carnosine is a dipeptide made of beta-alanine and histidine. We can make carnosine on our own, however, the amount produced is limited by the availability of beta-alanine in the body2,3.
During moderate to high-intensity exercise, hydrogen ions cause a drop in muscular pH levels. This negatively affects muscle performance. Some research suggests that this decrease in pH causes muscular fatigue and impedes performance. Any strategy to blunt this decrease may lead to better performance4.
Carnosine acts as a buffer in muscle tissue and works to attenuate decreasing pH levels. Increasing levels of carnosine should improve performance by delaying this process4.
Carnosine production is limited by beta-alanine availability. Carnosine is available as an oral supplement, however, a few studies have shown greater increases in carnosine levels after beta-alanine supplementation rather than using carnosine. Beta-alanine is a better way to increase carnosine levels1,5.
What are some potential benefits of beta-alanine?
If beta-alanine delays fatigue, it can provide several benefits. A few possibilities include improved moderate to high-intensity exercise performance, better endurance, increased strength, decreased body fat, and even better performance in tactical activities for military personnel. In this series, we’ll look at what the research says this supplement is capable of doing.
Does beta-alanine improve performance with high-intensity exercise? (coming soon)
Does beta-alanine decrease body fat? (coming soon)
Does beta-alanine increase muscle mass? (coming soon)
Does beta-alanine improve tactical performance in military personnel? (coming soon)
Final Verdict: Is beta-alanine worth taking? (coming soon)
- Trexler, E., Smith-Ryan, A., Stout, J. (2015). International society of sports nutrition position stand: Beta-Alanine. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 12(30).
- Courten, B. D., Jakubova, M., Courten, M. P., Kukurova, I. J., Vallova, S., Krumpolec, P., Ukropcova, B. (2016). Effects of carnosine supplementation on glucose metabolism: Pilot clinical trial. Obesity, 24(5), 1027-1034. doi:10.1002/oby.21434
- Varanoske, A., Hoffman, J., Church, D., Wang, R., Baker, K., Dodd, S., Stout, J. (2017). Influence of Skeletal Muscle Carnosine Content on Fatigue during Repeated Resistance Exercise in Recreationally Active Women. Nutrients, 9(9), 988. doi:10.3390/nu9090988
- Culbertson, J. Y., Kreider, R. B., Greenwood, M., Cooke, M. (2010). Effects of Beta-Alanine on Muscle Carnosine and Exercise Performance: A Review of the Current Literature. Nutrients, 2(1), 75-98. doi:10.3390/nu2010075
- Xing, L., Chee, M. E., Zhang, H., Zhang, W., Mine, Y. (2019). Carnosine—a natural bioactive dipeptide: Bioaccessibility, bioavailability and health benefits. Journal of Food Bioactives, 5, 8-17. doi:10.31665/jfb.2019.5174