A useful endurance tool, beta-alanine is commonly consumed in supplement form by athletes and strength trainers. During exercise hydrogen ions are produced in the body, which causes the pH levels in the muscles to drop. When this happens the body will experience a slowing of movement, physical strength and intensity. This prevents the ability to push to the limit during training and achieve optimum results. Beta-alanine boosts the levels of carnosine in the body. Carnosine works by soaking up hydrogen ions (H+) to balance out pH levels. When pH levels are balanced training can continue for longer periods at increased intensity.
When pH levels in the muscles are low, it means they are acidic. This symptom is commonly recognised by a burning sensation in the muscles or a general feeling of not being able to contract the muscles with much power. In order to increase results, there must be a sufficient supply of carnosine in the body. Studies have shown that beta-alanine can increase carnosine levels by up to 40 – 80 per cent depending on how much the subject has consumed.
The reason beta-alanine is so popularly consumed in supplement form is because only 40 per cent of carnosine contains beta-alanine and much of it is broken down in the gastrointestinal tract. By directly consuming beta-alanine in the form of tablet or powder supplements, the body is guaranteed increased carnosine and endurance levels, as opposed to consuming straight carnosine or protein rich foods. Taking beta-alanine supplements is also more beneficial from a financial view. To take straight carnosine would require significantly larger dosages in comparison to the smaller dosage recommended with beta-alanine supplements.
A dosage of about four to five grams of beta-alanine per day is considered the optimum level for endurance training, however, anywhere between 3.2 and 6.4 grams is acceptable. The benefits of taking beta-alanine supplements can be seen in as little as one week, but most notice the difference between three to four weeks. It is generally recommended that beta-alanine supplements are taken for a minimum 12 week period in order to achieve the best results possible. Research has proven that this amino acid is safe to use, although it has not been around long enough in supplement form to determine whether there are any long term side effects in existence.
The effectiveness of beta-alanine can be increased by taking it before and after exercise as increased blood flow during a workout delivers it to the muscles more efficiently. Consuming it with a meal high in complex carbohydrates can also assist in achieving better results.
Some people may notice a tingling sensation that can last for up to an hour post-consumption. This occurs when nerve receptors react to the beta-alanine. Such tingling is most likely to stop after a few weeks once the body has adapted to the supplement. Not all people will experience this feeling however, and it is not a sign that the creatine beta-alanine is working or not working.