- 1-2 grams per day is usual
- Usually taken pre-workout
- Effects are best with long term use
- Split dose or use slow release product to avoid tingles
Benefits of Beta Alanine
Beta alanine is a non-proteinogenic amino acid which, along with amino acid histidine, forms a dipeptide called carnosine. Muscle cells are rich in carnosine, which acts as a cellular buffer, helping to reduce the muscle fatiguing effects of the lactic acid which builds up during anaerobic exercise.
We obtain carnosine from meat, but our bodies also make this useful dipeptide. Beta alanine is the rate limiting step in the formation of carnosine, and many studies have shown that supplementary beta alanine increases the amount of carnosine stored in the muscles.
Likewise, there have been a lot of studies showing that higher muscle carnosine, as a result of beta alanine supplementation, increases the exercise capacity of the muscle. This is particularly the case with high intensity training, where beta alanine supplementation can increase the endurance capacity of the muscle and the power exerted when the muscle is in a fatigued state.
These increases have been shown both in beginners and trained athletes. Beta alanine supplementation is a cheap, easy and safe way to optimise training and results.
How to take Beta Alanine
Beta alanine gives the best results after muscle carnosine levels have been built up. Some people undertake a loading phase of 3-4g beta alanine per day for two weeks before dropping to an ongoing daily maintenance dose of 1-2g, but others find this unnecessary. Daily beta alanine supplementation has been shown to significantly increase levels of muscle carnosine for up to ten weeks, so the best way to get the most out of supplementation is regular daily dosing.
Beta alanine has a very well known side effect that will be familiar to most who have used it. When it is taken at a dose of more than 10mg/kg (800mg for an 80kg man), most people experience a flushing and tingling/prickling sensation, often concentrated on the face and hands. Known as paraesthesia, this side effect is harmless, although some people find it irritating and unpleasant. This side effect can be avoided by splitting the daily dose into amounts below the 10mg/kg threshold, using a slow release product, or taking beta alanine with food.
Best time to take Beta Alanine
Beta alanine can be taken any time to increase muscle carnosine, and a lot of people take split doses with meals to reduce the tingling feeling.
The most popular time to take beta alanine is before a workout. Many people believe dosing up to thirty minutes before a workout amplifies the reduction of lactic acid, and promotes greater strength and endurance, and some people enjoy the feeling of the tingles during a workout.