Beta-Alanine Benefits for Athletes: Gain Strength and Speed

If you take a pre-workout before exercise, you will likely feel a tingling sensation throughout your arms and legs. This tingling effect is called paresthesia — a side effect of beta-alanine doing its job.

Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid and one of the most common ingredients in pre-workout formulas. The effects of beta-alanine supplementation range from increased strength gains, improved physical performance, and increased endurance (which we'll dive into below). 

But how does beta-alanine work? And can beta-alanine benefit your athletic performance? Below, we dive into various beta-alanine benefits as shown by science.

What Is Beta-Alanine?

Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid found naturally in the human body. Unlike essential amino acids such as l-histidine, leucine, or lysine, your body produces beta-alanine on its own in the liver. 

Beta-alanine has become a popular ingredient in pre-workouts because it can help prevent muscle soreness and enhance athletic performance. Intuitively, resisting muscle fatigue means more sets and reps at the gym, which equals better gains.

How Beta-Alanine Works 

In order to understand how beta-alanine can help boost athletic performance, you first need a grasp of what happens to your muscles during your workouts. 

Here's how it works: When you work out at high-intensity — a form of anaerobic exercise — your muscles use glucose for energy. As a byproduct of glycolytic metabolism, lactic acid accumulates in muscle tissue and causes the familiar “burning” sensation as you push yourself to complete more reps. The lactic acid in your muscles causes muscle fatigue and soreness. 

As described by Medicine and Science in Sports Exercise, beta-alanine is the rate-limiting substrate for synthesizing muscle carnosine. . Carnosine is a dipeptide which helps buffer muscle cells, thereby reducing the fatiguing effects of lactic acid and hydrogen ions that build up in muscle during exercise

In turn, beta-alanine (and subsequent carnosine) prevent neuromuscular fatigue and muscle soreness, extending the amount of work you can put in at the gym. 

Beta-Alanine Benefits for Athletes

beta-alanine benefits: male bench pressing

Beta-alanine supplementation has a range of benefits, notably improving athletic performance, increasing exercise capacity, and building lean muscle mass. Below, we dive into the science of several health benefits of beta-alanine.

1. Beta-Alanine Can Improve Exercise Performance 

According to a study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, supplementing with beta-alanine benefits athletic performance.

In the study, 12 healthy, older adults were given beta-alanine or a placebo for four weeks. Subjects who were given beta-alanine showed increased exercise capacity compared to the control group. 

In addition, those who supplemented with beta-alanine had significant improvements in endurance throughout the duration of their workouts, allowing subjects to exercise longer than those in the placebo group.

In layman’s terms, beta-alanine works rapidly to help you exercise harder and longer.

2. Beta-Alanine Can Increase Endurance Performance

According to a study in Frontiers in Physiology, supplementing with beta-alanine appears to increase endurance during exercise. Sixteen healthy individuals were given either 5 grams of a beta-alanine supplement or a placebo for 23 days. On the first and last day of the experiment, participants completed a 10-kilometer (6.2 miles) time trial. 

Throughout the study, every participant — regardless of whether they were taking a placebo or beta-alanine — completed the same training program.

Here's what researchers found: Not only did beta-alanine benefit the runners' time trial, but it significantly reduced lactate concentration compared to the control group. 

In other words, taking beta-alanine as part of your training program can help increase your endurance. This is likely due to the fact that beta-alanine helps increase muscle carnosine levels, which prevents lactic acid buildup

3. Beta-Alanine Could Increase Sprint Performance 

Not only can beta-alanine benefit your endurance, but it might help you run faster for shorter distances (i.e. sprinting).

In numerous studies, beta-alanine supplements have been shown to increase sprint performance in elite runners, cyclists, and swimmers.

For example, a study conducted by R.C. Harris, H.J. Kim, B.D. Harris, C. Sale, L.H. Boobis, C.K. Kim, and J A Wise, published in Medicine and Science in Sports Medicine, showed that supplementing with beta-alanine for eight weeks significantly enhanced sprint performance in endurance cyclists. This proved true even after exhaustive exercise. In other words, beta-alanine can help you push yourself during the latter stages of a racing competition.

Another study, published in PLOS One, corroborates that beta-alanine supplementation helps improve swim sprint performance in water polo players. 

However,there are some contradictory studies on whether beta-alanine benefits sprint performance. For example, one study published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that beta-alanine supplements helped improve 800-meter run times in athletes. Another study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that supplementing with beta-alanine for five weeks had no impact on sprint performance.

4. Beta-Alanine Can Increase Strength Gains 

A beta-alanine pre-workout supplement may increase gains made at the gym, according to a study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition

Over the course of a five-week resistance training program, study participants were given either beta-alanine or a placebo. Both groups performed strength training exercises including squats, step-ups, and jumping lunges throughout the study. 

After five weeks, athletes who took a beta-alanine dietary supplement showed greater training improvements than those in the placebo group. Specifically, they increased their one-rep max, power output, and training volume. 

5. Beta-Alanine Can Increase Your Capacity for HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) Workouts 

High-intensity exercise can increase strength while burning fat, having a positive effect on body composition

However, as every athlete knows, HIIT workouts, while efficient, can be exhausting. Supplementing with beta-alanine can delay the onset of muscle fatigue and thereby allow you to train at high-capacity for longer.

In a placebo-controlled study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, subjects supplementing with beta-alanine had significant improvements in time to exhaustion, ventilatory threshold, and training volume compared to the placebo group. The researchers concluded that beta-alanine has pronounced benefits on HIIT workout performance and lean body mass.

The Best Time to Take Beta-Alanine Is Pre-Workout

For maximum beta-alanine benefits, take your supplements prior to exercise. 

As you already learned, beta-alanine works by increasing your skeletal muscle carnosine content. This, in turn, will decrease lactic acid buildup in your muscle cells, helping you get more from your workouts.

The standard dose of beta-alanine is 2.4–5 grams, which is offered in a single scoop of three Transparent Labs products:

  • RawSeries Beta-Alanine: A single scoop of RawSeries Beta-Alanine contains 3 grams of the amino acid. Consume it 15-30 minutes before you exercise.
  • PreSeries Stim-Free Pre-Workout: This caffeine-free pre-workout comes with 4 grams of beta-alanine in a single scoop, combined with BCAAs, taurine, N-acetyl L-tyrosine, citrulline malate, and other ingredients.
  • PreSeries Bulk Pre-Workout: The Bulk Pre-Workout comes with 4 grams of beta-alanine and a testosterone support complex to increase muscle mass.

According to a meta-analysis conducted by the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, combining creatine monohydrate with beta-alanine benefits your strength gains made at the gym. So, we recommend consuming creatine after exercise, found in the StrengthSeries Creatine HMB.

Beta-Alanine Pre-Workouts Can Increase Your Athletic Performance

beta-alanine benefits: woman cycling indoors

Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid found in the human body. Beta-alanine sparks muscle carnosine synthesis, which increases buffering capacity against lactic acid buildup in muscle tissue during intense training. 

Beta-alanine is associated with a number of health benefits, including increased endurance, sprint speed, exercise capacity, and strength gains. 

For optimal results, consume 2,400 - 5,000 mg of beta-alanine prior to exercise to increase muscle carnosine concentrations. To do this, you can use a standalone beta-alanine supplement, Stim-Free Pre-Workout, or Bulk Pre-Workout.

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