Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to work out intensively for hours without depleting your energy supply? As nice as it sounds, it does not happen all the time. Sadly, we have limited energy resources. Some of us can workout longer hours while others simply can’t.
Luckily, we have various sources of energy that can fuel us. One of these sources is probably already in your workout supplements. This ingredient called beta-alanine.
This article tells you everything you need to know about this ingredient.
Beta-Alanine 101: Overview
Beta-alanine is a nonessential amino acid. Unlike essential amino acids, you don’t have to obtain it only through your diet. Your body can create beta-alanine from other amino acids.
Unlike most amino acids, it does not synthesize proteins either. Instead, its primary function is to produce another amino acid called carnosine. This process is done with the combination of other essential amino acid called L-Histidine.
The byproduct of these two amino acids is stored in the muscles and brain. Carnosine works by reducing lactic acid accumulation in your muscles during workout. As a result, you improve your athletic performance. In addition, it also helps reduce fatigue.
Beta-Alanine 101: Sources
Food is not the primary source of Beta-Alanine since your body can produce it.
The top food sources though are fish, poultry, and meat. Beta-Alanine is a part of larger compounds like anserine and carnosine. It breaks free when the digestion process starts.
Aside from diet, other people use supplements to increase their level of Beta-Alanine.
Beta-Alanine 101: How It Works
The levels of histidine in your muscles are normally high while beta-alanine is low. As a result, carnosine production is limited. Using supplements that contain beta-alanine elevates the levels of carnosine in your muscles by 80%.
This is how carnosine works during workout:
- It helps breakdown glucose. Glycolysis is the byproduct of glucose breakdown. It provides fuel and energy during high-intensity workouts.
- It helps produce lactate. Your muscles break down glucose into lactic acid as you workout. This is further converted down into lactate, the primary source of hydrogen ions (H+).
- It helps your muscles to have more acidity. Hydrogen ions help lower down the pH level in your muscle. Your muscle becomes more acidic as a result.
- Fatigue kicks in. Acidity is blocking the breakdown of glucose in your muscles. It also reduces the ability of your muscles to contract. This can cause fatigue.
- Carnosine buffer. Carnosine acts as a buffer against muscle acidity during high-intensity exercise.
In summary, beta-alanine increases the levels of your carnosine. They reduce the acidity of muscles during workout. This reduces your overall fatigue.
Beta-Alanine 101: Uses and Other Health Benefits
This popular amino acid is commonly used as a sports supplement to enhance exercise performance. It reduces muscle fatigue and improves heart fitness. Read on to know more about its uses and benefits.
Improves Athletic Performance
Supplementing with beta-alanine can improve your capacity and power during exercise. It works best on exercises that are short in duration and high in intensity.
Furthermore, beta-alanine helps improve game performance. It increases resistance training volume and improves the performance of athletes who play in team sports. It also improves repeated sprinting, endurance and jumping.
Increases Muscle Mass
According to a 2009 research, 46 men undergoing high-intensity interval training used beta-alanine supplementation. The result shows that beta-alanine increased their stamina and endurance. Furthermore, the result also shows that it helped increase the participants’ lean body mass, ventilatory threshold, and oxygen intake.
Delays Fatigue and Reduces Lactic Acid in Muscles
Beta-alanine improves high-intensity exercises that are more than one minute in duration. It reduces the build-up of muscle acidity during a high-intensity performance. As a result, it delays your fatigue.
Other health benefits include:
May improve PTSD and lower anxiety
Beta-alanine boosts serotonin and carnosine in your brain. These two substances can reduce anxiety by maintaining a molecule’s normal concentration.
Similarly, beta-alanine also improves PTSD behavior by maintaining the normal levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
May Fight Aging
Elderly can benefit from taking beta-alanine. It improves their capacity to perform the exercise on a regular basis. It also enhances leg muscle function.
Beta-alanine also helps in the production of molecule carnosine in muscles. Carnosine is responsible for the reduction of aging-related stress. This stress can increase the risk of age-related chronic disease and damage cells.
May Lowers the Risk of Developing Tumor
Beta-alanine reduces the aggressiveness and function of tumor in breast cancer cells. It also aids the chemotherapeutic doxorubicin in fighting tumors. It also reduces the tumor cell growth in colon and rectal tumor cells.
Beta-Alanine 101: Possible Side Effects
Beta-alanine is generally safe, especially when you source it from foods. Moreover, Beta-alanine supplements are considered safe too so long as you use doses of 4.8-6.4 grams daily for up to 30 days.
Possible side effects reported include:
- Eye irritation
- Lung irritation
- A sensation similar to pins-and-needles
- Skin flushing and irritation
- Stomach irritation
Be cautious in taking beta-alanine supplements when you have this following:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Taking vasodilators such as vigabatrin or sildenafil
- Dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase (DPD) deficiency or hyperbeta-alaninemia
- Sensitivity or allergy to beta-alanine
- Pregnant or breastfeeding
The recommended dosage of beta-alanine is 2–5 grams daily. Though it’s effective as a standalone supplement, many fitness enthusiasts combine it with other sports supplements. The two most commonly used ones with beta-alanine are creatine and sodium bicarbonate.
Creatine increases the ATP availability which enhances your performance during high-intensity exercise. Sodium bicarbonate, on the other hand, reduces acid in your blood and muscles which results in enhanced exercise performance.
Will you benefit from using Beta-alanine?
My answer is a big resounding yes. Eat a healthy diet that is rich with this Beta-alanine. Use a well-trusted Beta-alanine supplement to get the most out of your workout routines. There are tons of beta-alanine supplements available in the market. Take your time to research which one will give you the most favorable result.
Beta-alanine can be the answer to your dilemma of limited energy supply during high-intensity workouts.
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Quach, H. (2019). 5 Interesting Benefits of Beta-Alanine + Side Effects. Retrieved from https://selfhacked.com/blog/beta-alanine/
Schinetsky, R. (2018). Beta-Alanine 101: Everything You Need To Know. Retrieved from https://cellucor.com/blogs/nutrition/beta-alanine-101