Beta Alanine is a non-essential amino acid and is the only naturally occurring beta-amino acid.
Beta Alanine’s main effect comes from its ability to boost the synthesis of carnosine. This can help ward off fatigue leading to more intense and longer training sessions. It has been studied in great detail for its high-intensity exercise performance-enhancing properties and fast acting nature.
Many users experience intense vasodilatation/pumps from the very first dose of Beta Alanine as carnosine is a powerful precursor in generating nitric oxide synthase.
How does it work?
During exercise, lactic acid builds up in our muscles. This is believed to contribute to fatigue or the “burn”, as it is often referred to. High levels of carnosine in skeletal muscle increases your ability to buffer the build up of lactic acid, essentially helping you train harder and for longer.
Carnosine is more commonly found in the Type II muscle fibres. These are your “fast” and “explosive” muscle fibres, more associated with sprinting and resistance training. Such high-intensity exercise causes high levels of oxidative stress.
This can create an acidic environment in your muscles and may be preventing you from reaching your maximum fatigue threshold. Higher levels of carnosine decrease the build up of lactic acid and allow you to increase your performance. This may well be that difference between the eighth and ninth rep on the bench press.
Interestingly, the ingestion of beta alanine appears to have a better effect on muscle carnosine levels than supplementing with carnosine itself. So, supplementing with beta alanine looks to be the most effective way to increase your muscle carnosine levels and increase your performance.
Warning: A very common side effect of Beta Alanine, especially on first use, is flushing or tingling/itching of the skin, particularly the hands and face (paresthesia). This is well documented and will pass quite quickly.
Whether you’re lifting weights to lose fat and increase muscle or to become faster and stronger, increasing your muscle carnosine levels can increase your performance. The supplementation of beta alanine has been shown to increase your muscle carnosine levels, which may help decrease fatigue and help you train harder and for longer.