There’s no shortage of studies showing that supplementation with anywhere between 3-6g of beta-alanine is effective for improving muscle carnosine levels and associated high-intensity performance. We also know that following a loading phase with beta-alanine, levels of carnosine in muscle only decline very slowly over a period of months to weeks; depending on the length of supplementation. However, one aspect of beta-alanine supplementation that has received little attention is the most optimal dose for maintaining elevated muscle levels of carnosine. This specific issues was addressed in a recent study published in the July 2014 issue of the journal Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise.
In this particular study, researchers from Ghent University in Belgium took a group of 34 individuals (16 men & 18 women) and subjected them to a loading phase consisting of 3.2g of beta-alanine per day for 6 weeks. At the end of the 6 week period, 17 of the initial 34 individuals volunteered to undergo a further maintenance dose exploration study. As a result, the group was split into 3, with one receiving 0.4g, another 0.8g and the final group 1.2g of beta-alanine per day. This maintenance dose part of the study extended another 6 weeks.
Individuals receiving the 1.2g maintenance dose were the only ones to maintain the same levels of muscle carnosine that were reached at the end of the initial 6 week loading phase. In contrast, subjects in the 0.8g and 0.4g groups exhibited a -32% and -46% drop respectively in muscle carnosine levels. These findings are particularly relevant for individuals who have undergone a loading phase with beta-alanine and want to continue supplementation while economising on supplementation.
It’s important to keep in mind however, that other studies exploring loading phase dosages of beta-alanine have used larger doses (up to 6.4g per day) and longer supplementation periods (i.e. up to 12 weeks). In this regard one cannot make the assumption that a 1.2g dose of beta-alanine will be an effective maintenance dose for individuals who have undertaken a more aggressive loading phase dose over a period longer than 6 weeks. However, 3.2g is a relatively popular loading phase dose, so the findings are still widely applicable to the average individual supplementing with beta-alanine.
Stegen S, et al. B-Alanine dose for maintaining moderately elevated muscle carnosine levels. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014;46(7):1426–1432.