Does Beta-alanine Improve Athletic Performance?

Beta-alanine is a naturally occurring amino acid that has some potential benefits to athletes as it is involved as a rate-limiting precursor of carnosine and has been accepted has an effective physiological hydrogen ion (H+) buffer.  In contrast, beta-alanine is not involved as a precursor of proteins.  Carnosine is  often used in ‘anti-aging’ supplements.

One recent study (Smith et al, 2009), found that high intensity interval training (HIIT) was effective and efficient in inducing significant aerobic improvements.  The study authors concluded that beta-alanine supplementation may further enhance HIIT training by improving both endurance performance and lean body mass.   The dose of beta-alanine in this particular study was 6 g per day for the first 3 weeks, then followed by 3g per day for the following three weeks.

An additional study (Hoffman et al, 2008) found that beta-alanine supplementation increased training volume and reduced subjective feelings of fatigue in college football players.  The dosage of beta-alanine in this study was 4.5g per day.

Important! At high doses, beta-alanine can cause side effects including paraesthesias or a sensation of “pins and needles” in your limbs.

References:

  1. Smith AE, Walter AA, Graef JL, Kendall KL, Moon JR, Lockwood CM, Fukuda DH, Beck TW, Cramer JT, Stout JR. Effects of beta-alanine supplementation and high-intensity interval training on endurance performance and body composition in men; a double-blind trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009 Feb 11;6:5.
  2. Hoffman JR, Ratamess NA, Faigenbaum AD, Ross R, Kang J, Stout JR, Wise JA. Short-duration beta-alanine supplementation increases training volume and reduces subjective feelings of fatigue in college football players. Nutr Res. 2008 Jan;28(1):31-5.

7 thoughts on “Does Beta-alanine Improve Athletic Performance?

  1. How often beta-alanine is actually used by professional football players in the United States (i’m european)? Thanks. I will add your blog on my rss feeds.

  2. TDS, that’s a very good question, unfortunately, I don’t have an answer regarding how many football players actually use beta-alanine.

  3. Very informative blog post. I am a long-distance runner and recently tried a beta-alanine supplement after reading your blog post about a month ago.

    Subjectively, I find that I recover quicker between workouts. I’ve also noticed that my endurance has improved since I started using this supplement.

    Thanks for the information.

  4. I love the beta alanine “tingles”. Although you don’t need to feel them for beta alanine to work, it kind of shows me when it’s starting to “hit” me, and then I need to get into the gym or get my swim started. Anyway great post

  5. Phillip,

    Thanks for the feedback about beat-alanine. It’s a supplement that I’ve never tried before myself.

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