Beta Alanine for Runners
The break down of glucose produces lactic acid.
Lactic acid produces Hydrogen ions, which makes the muscle more acidic.
Acidity stops enzymes and other funky stuff like mitochondria working optimally inside muscle cells
As a result, runners will get fatigued.
Beta alanine, can increase carnosine levels, which buffers acidity levels in the muscles.
Sprinters may benefit from supplementing both beta alanine and creatine. Creatine is the fuel for the “ATP-PC system” which is used primarily in high intensity exercise lasting under 10 seconds.
You can read more about creatine in our in-depth article here.
Beta Alanine is hyped up a lot in the bodybuilding supplement industry, as a highly effective pre-workout ergogenic aid.
Unfortunately, EVERYTHING under the sun, that is sold by the supplement industry, is equally hyped.
Unlike 90% of the other stuff, beta alanine is actually really effective.
The main thing I like about it, is its ability to enhance muscular endurance, without getting any of the jitters that caffeine might cause. This makes it a good choice when competing too. Caffeine will make you more nervous than you already are when competing, beta alanine will not (as far as I am aware).
Taurine is also great for grappling and MMA – but don’t take at the same time – as they compete for ‘uptake’ – space out your supplements by an hour if possible.
Beta alanine is a non-essential amino acid, that when combined with histidine, creates carnosine. Carnosine in turn, buffers lactic acid build up, meaning you can train harder for longer, or improve endurance performance.
Here is some Beta Alanine Research that may be of interest
Study 1 – Chronic beta alanine use – taking 6g a day for 21 days, enhances endurance.
Forty-six men were assessed for peak O2 utilization (VO2peak), time to fatigue (VO2TTE), ventilatory threshold (VT), and total work done at 110% of pre-training VO2peak (TWD).
All subjects were randomly assigned into one either a placebo (PL – 16.5 g dextrose powder per packet; n = 18) or β-alanine (BA – 1.5 g β-alanine plus 15 g dextrose powder per packet; n = 18) group.
All subjects supplemented four times per day (total of 6 g/day) for the first 21-days, followed by two times per day (3 g/day) for the subsequent 21 days, and engaged in a total of six weeks of HIIT training consisting of 5–6 bouts of a 2:1 minute cycling work to rest ratio.
Significant improvements in VO2peak, VO2TTE, and TWD after three weeks of training were displayed (p < 0.05). Increases in VO2peak, VO2TTE, TWD and lean body mass were only significant for the BA group after the second three weeks of training.
The use of HIIT to induce significant aerobic improvements is effective and efficient. Chronic Beta Alanine supplementation may further enhance High Intensity Intermittent Training, improving endurance performance and lean body mass.
Study 2 – a bit more inconclusive. Taking beta alanine for 28 days (4.8g per day), enhanced sub-maximal endurance but subjects did show a reduced “aerobic capacity”.
Fifteen male athletes participated in a placebo-controlled, double-blind study and were supplemented orally for 4 wk with either 4.8 g/day β-alanine or placebo. Muscle carnosine concentration was quantified in soleus and gastrocnemius by proton MRS. Performance was evaluated by isokinetic testing during five bouts of 30 maximal voluntary knee extensions, by endurance during isometric contraction at 45% maximal voluntary contraction, and by the indoor 400-m running time. β-Alanine supplementation significantly increased the carnosine content in both the soleus (+47%) and gastrocnemius (+37%). In placebo, carnosine remained stable in soleus, while a small and significant increase of +16% occurred in gastrocnemius. Dynamic knee extension torque during the fourth and fifth bout was significantly improved with β-alanine but not with placebo. Isometric endurance and 400-m race time were not affected by treatment.
Subjects participated in two incremental treadmill tests before and after 28 days of supplementation with either βA (6.0 g·d-1)(βA, n = 8) or an equivalent dose of Maltodextrin as the Placebo (PL, n = 9).
βA supplementation for 28 days enhanced sub-maximal endurance performance by delaying OBLA (when lactate starts building up in the blood Onset of Blood Lactate Accumulation). However, βA supplemented individuals had a reduced aerobic capacity as evidenced by the decrease in VO2max values post supplementation.
Study 3 – a meta analysis: beta alanine improves performance of exercise, when it lasts 60 seconds, to 240 seconds.
Fifteen published manuscripts were included in the analysis
In line with the purported mechanisms for an ergogenic effect of β-alanine supplementation, exercise lasting 60–240 s was improved
In contrast, there was no benefit of β-alanine on exercise lasting less than 60 s
Summary of Beta Alanine Research
– Interestingly – the data suggests that, as you can see above, beta alanine works best for exercise lasting longer than a minute; so ideal for MMA or BJJ
– There is less research on taurine, but I did manage to find one study that suggests it improves endurance parameters.
– All the research I could find on beta alanine, suggested taking it for at least a week before hand. I’m not sure I’d recommend this, as I couldn’t find any research on beta alanine supplementation and safety over extended periods of time.
– According to Examine.com, taurine and beta-alanine compete for absorption. So if combining them doesn’t seem to work for you, try them individually
I find them massively effective. This may be because I’m 5ft 10 and 14 stone, and perhaps carrying more muscle than an average MMA and BJJ participant; and/or because I don’t do much cardio!
Beta Alanine Tingling
Beta alanine can cause a tingling sensation. It feels a little like pins and needles. The one annoying side effect – or common side effect is called “paraesthesia”.
This side effect is harmless, but it can be annoying. Apparently, this tingling is caused by nerve or ‘receptors’ just under your skin that detect touch. Beta Alanine can combine or attach to these receptors and cause the tingling.
Beta Alanine with BCAAs
Both BCAAs and beta alanine have some research to show that they can improve endurance performance. There is no evidence that they compete for absorption in the body – so if you want to take them together – you can! BCAAs, may improve endurance and it may also enhance protein synthesis – so if you have the budget, you may as well give this supplement a go – although if you take whey protein, it might be a bit pointless.
oh, the BCAAs, if you wondered, are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Leucine has quite a bit of research to show in can increase protein synthesis via the “mTor” pathway. Which, is also related to prostate cancer unfortunately – so use at your own risk. However, the doctor in the video below, states that:
“claims that BCAAs alone increase muscle anabolism in humans, are not evidence-based (i.e. by the supplement industry)”
According to Google – they are derived from both plant-based and animal-based sources. Back in the day they were made from swine hair, apparently – although I’m not 100% sure this isn’t ballocks! (more info here)
- Loading beta alanine – 4g per day can be a good idea for enhancing performance
- Beta alanine can improve performance in exercise lasting longer than 1 minute
- Beta alanine tingling is called paraesthesia (this is harmless)
- Beta alanine buffers (reduces the “acidity-effect”) of lactic acid
Exercise and diet at your own risk
Peace and Love