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Beta-Alanine: A Fatigue-Fighting Amino Acid

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Whether you’re a runner wanting to go a little farther or a bodybuilder who needs to perform more repetitions while training, having muscle endurance is important.

Muscular endurance plays a crucial role in improving your ability to support daily activities as well as your performance in sports and exercise. It allows your body to sustain a load for longer periods and more efficiently.

If you’re looking for a way to improve your ability to perform repetitive movements over long periods then you might want to consider taking beta-alanine. Here’s a rundown on this fatigue-reducing amino acid.

Beta-Alanine at a Glance

Chemical structure of beta-alanine.

Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid derived from modifying alanine and a substrate of carnosine. Research suggests that supplementing with beta-alanine can help prevent fatigue during high-intensity exercise.

Unlike other amino acids, your body uses beta-alanine in combination with histidine to produce the chemical carnosine, the key to reducing exhaustion during high-intensity activities.

Although most people can get sufficient amounts of beta-alanine from food sources such as meat, poultry, and fish, supplements can help raise its levels in your body even further.

How It Works

Beta-alanine supplements increase carnosine by up to 80 percent in your body which reduces the acidity in your muscles during high-intensity exercise.

During exercise, your body breaks down glucose as a main source of fuel into lactic acid. This is then converted into lactate which makes the muscles more acidic. The acidity reduces your muscle’s ability to contract which causes fatigue. Carnosine acts as a buffer against the acid in your muscles which lessens overall exhaustion.

Beta-Alanine Benefits

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  • It increases your time to exhaustion. As a result, it helps you exercise or perform athletic activities for longer periods.
  • It improves your performance and improves your capacity during high-intensity and short-duration exercise.
  • It can boost training volume while reducing fatigue during resistance training.
  • Since it can help increase exercise volume, beta-alanine can also help promote muscle growth and improve your body composition.
  • Animal studies have shown that carnosine has anti-oxidant, anti-aging, and immune-enhancing properties. It can neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. However, human studies are yet to be conducted to support this claim.
  • There are also test-tube studies suggesting that carnosine elevates nitric oxide production which can help improve heart health.
  • Increased carnosine can also improve the function and quality of muscles in older adults.

Dosage Recommendations

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The standard daily dose for beta-alanine is between 2 and 5 grams. Note that most pre-workout supplements already contain beta-alanine so it’s best to read the label before taking supplements.

According to a study conducted at Ghent University, consuming beta-alanine with a meal can further increase carnosine levels in the body.

Safety Considerations

Excessive amounts of beta-alanine may cause paresthesia or tingling of the skin experienced in the face, neck, and the back of the hands. Note that the tingling sensation increases with dosage size. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, this can be avoided by taking smaller doses (around 800 mg) at a time.

It can also cause a decline in taurine levels as beta-alanine competes for absorption in the muscles. 

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