If you’re looking for an extra boost while trying to burn those stubborn fat deposits and want to work out longer before getting tired – Beta-alanine might be the fix that you’ve been longing for. Wouldn’t it be nice to build a bit leaner muscle mass without almost killing yourself during your workouts? It’s been clinically proven to be a safe, effective supplement among athletes and fitness enthusiasts of all ages and sizes. Let’s take a look at beta-alanine and the possibilities it may hold for you, including enhanced performance. Note: This guide has been split to harbor information pertaining to both beginners and experienced supplementers.
What is it?
In its purest form, beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid. It’s something that your body does not require to live. Structurally, beta-alanine is a mixture of L-glycine and GABA. Since it is a mixture of these neurotransmitters, it makes sense that many people develop a fondness for the caffeine-like response that beta-alanine provides. The body utilizes most of the types of amino acids to synthesize proteins that you have taken in through consuming different foods. With histidine, beta-alanine combines and creates carnosine. Carnosine is kept in your muscles so that it can effectively reduce lactic acid during exercise, improving athletic performance.
What does Beta-Alanine do?
After beta-alanine enters your muscle cells, and is bound with histidine to form the dipeptide carnosine, your body is ready to rock. Carnosine is the point of supplementing with beta-alanine. High levels of carnosine ensures you will get the most out of your workouts by…
- Reducing acid levels in your muscles, staving off fatigue. The longer your muscles can work out before getting tired, the more lean muscle you’re able to build and the more fat cells that will melt away. Lowering the acid levels in your skeletal muscles is key for body building or body-shaping/sculpting.
- Slowing lactate producing. Lactic acid is typically produced as your muscles break down glucose during exercise. By limiting the lactic acid produced, you can work out for a longer period of time without feeling that burn and discomfort that leads to the death of a workout.
Naturally, one would look to supplement with Carnosine directly, rather than beta-alanine. The trouble is, after the carnosine is consumed, it doesn’t make it to your muscles. Prior to reaching the final destination, it gets broken down to the two ingredient parts, histidine and beta-alanine. At this point, your body would need to reconstruct the two back to carnosine once the product has reached your skeletal muscle. It technically works, but it takes much longer. On top of that, our bodies have no trouble producing histidine on their own, but we’re terrible at producing the beta-alanine that is needed to enhance our exercises.
What are the benefits?
Obviously the most ideal and immediately noticeable benefit is the increased time to exhaustion. For those of us who are familiar with our body and the limits it may have, it is easy to notice the increase in energy levels during exercise while supplementing with beta-alanine. Naturally, having the ability to exercise at the same level for longer periods of time will lead to more lean muscle and less fat.
The lesser known benefit is a quietly important one. The beta-alanine will increase the power of your muscles. Your strength is increased as well as the peak performance of the exercises that you’re doing. So long as there are short rest periods between sets of high-intensity exercises, your body will literally perform on another level. The carnosine is only effective when you’re in motion so if your breaks between sets last more than 60 seconds, you’re not going to see a significant boost in performance. Your peak oxygen uptake needs to run at a high rate for a good duration of time.
Ways to Increase Beta-Alanine Levels
The most effective way to increase the beta-alanine levels in your body is through supplementing. At this point, beta-alanine is a ubiquitous substance in the fitness world. You can get it in most pre-workout supplement packages or purchase it at a reasonable price on its own. And yes… this popular supplement can be purchased on this website!
The other, much less effective way, to increase the beta-alanine levels in your body is through meat consumption. Pork and beef don’t have beta-alanine but they have fairly high levels of carnosine. Remember, our bodies will break it down and then need to reassemble it later, which is why supplements are much more effective. There is no food out there that has beta-alanine in its pure form, ready for your body to use.
What are the Side Effects of Beta-Alanine?
Tingles. Seriously. That’s what we’ve appropriately named it. The scientific term is paresthesia which sounds scary but really just means that your face, head, and sometimes extremities will tingle. It almost feels like a lighter version of your limbs waking back up as the blood rushes back into them if they’ve “fallen asleep.” This is often a sensation that people become rather fond of. Tingles are the only side effect, so long as you’re not vastly over-doing it and you’re taking the suggested amounts directed by the packaging or this website’s workout regimen guides.
When to Take the Supplement
Once you’ve purchased your beta-alanine supplement, you need to get yourself on a strict schedule of consumption. The product is most often ingested pre-workout, since that’s when most other supplements are taken. (Remember, you may already be taking it in some sort of pre-workout supplement mixture.) Understand that the time of day you take your beta-alanine is not important. What is important is that it’s taken at about the same time each day.
For the Experienced…
You’ve been working out for years? Good. You’ve been working with supplements that help your body get to the best shape it can be? Even better. You were familiar with almost all of the information provided above? Perfect. Now we’re going to take a look at the different things that you really need to understand about beta-alanine and the best ways to make it work for you to meet or exceed your workout goals and gain that 50% increase in muscle.
What to Stack with Beta-Alanine
Most people take beta-alanine at the same time every single day, pre-workout. That’s a perfect opportunity to stack it with your other pre-workout performance enhancers. Take this opportunity to mix your beta-alanine with creatine, citrulline, and betaine. If you’re serious about body building, these four supplements taken in tandem will lead to the impressive results you’d expect. The cumulative effects of these supplements are proven to be substantial and they all go well with that protein shake you’re about to enjoy! Here is a nice recipe and formula for guaranteed success:
- 4 grams of beta-alanine
- 8 grams of creatine
- 1 gram of betaine
- 5 grams of citrulline
- Usual protein shake mix
- Intense workout session with very few rest periods
- Post-workout mix
The beta-alanine compounds with the other supplements for exponential muscle gain.
Too Much Beta-Alanine
We decided to create this section of the guide to address the more serious conditions if you basically overdose on beta-alanine. These are not considered to be normal side effects, remember. If you’re going to seriously abuse any substance, there will be some sort of repercussion. With beta-alanine, if you consume more than 3 or 4 grams, it is common to get a flushed feeling similar to hot flashes. It’s also common to have some unpleasant itching or burning on the scalp or ears. The absolute worst case scenario is nausea. Nobody has ever been reported to be allergic to the substance and there are currently zero deaths on record as a result from taking beta-alanine supplements. The only way you’re going to put your life in danger is if you choke to death while consuming!
What Kind of Cycle Time?
If you’re taking your beta-alanine supplement with the other supplements, then you should take beta-alanine daily with no real end date in site. Your end date will be dictated by your muscle mass. If you’re happy with your physique, cut back on the frequency or the amount of beta-alanine you’re taking. If you’re trying to boost your muscle builds even more than the daily dosage is along, it’s time to start cycling.
We recommend taking your beta-alanine supplements in a 4/9 week on/off cycle. This particular cycle time will allow you a 9 week opportunity to shed any excess weight you may have put on while bulking muscle through lengthy cardio workouts. Once the 9 week shed time is over with, it’s time to start your beta-alanine supplements again in conjunction with the high-octane, intense workouts that last just a few minutes each with little time for rest.
As you know by now, beta-alanine will work best when used in a high-intensity environment. Crossfit techniques are often suggested while supplementing with beta-alanine. These particular exercises can be completed at a really high rate of speed without requiring much of a rest between sets. Do your best to hop from one to another to another with around 20 seconds of rest in between each set. A “set” shouldn’t consist of 10 or 20 or 50 reps. A set, in this case, is as many reps as you believe you can do within a set time frame. Remember, the faster the speed, the better… but don’t lose focus of what’s around you! Remain safe!
- Deadlifts – lower the weight you’d use on a typical deadlift. This is about speed and repetition.
- Medicine-Ball Clean – Keep your feet in line with your shoulders. Squat down, bring the ball up with your palms from your toes to your shoulders, stand, and the left the ball above your head. Slowly bring it back down to the starting position. Rinse and repeat.
- Squat-Thrusts/Burpees – Perhaps the most underrated exercise on the list. This requires no weighs and not much room. Add a jump at the end of the exercise to work out even more muscles.
Direct Body Composition and Other Health Benefits
It’s no secret that beta-alanine has a positive effect on your body composition as well. A study completed by the Journal of Sports Nutrition proved that the effects of combining beta-alanine supplements with high-intensity interval training vastly improved endurance and aerobic metabolism in college-aged men. These men were found to have significant aerobic improvements and increased lean body mass. A similar study was conducted on a group of 32 females in 2014. These women weren’t found to have an increase in muscle mass but they did manage to lower their BMI, inferring that they burnt more fat cells because they were less fatigued and more active.
Understanding that beta-alanine is used in the construction of carnosine is important. This means that we must look at the effects of carnosine with the same sense of urgency and care that we do the effects of beta-alanine. Carnosine naturally has anti-aging and immune-enhancing properties. These benefits reduce oxidative stress and neutralize free radicals.
In addition to this, carnosine is often used in medications to treat muscular dystrophy in people. Since carnosine is known to reduce fatigue, elderly people are prescribed beta-alanine to combat fatigue, allowing them to live fuller and more independent lives.
Avoid Muscular Failure – Recap
Muscular failure is the term that we like to use when describing that horrible feeling when you just can’t go on any longer. You feel the burn start to grow into more of a pain and you realize that you just physically cannot lift that bar one more time or you literally cannot get your back off the mat to complete that final sit-up. This is one of the most defeating feelings in the world, but at some point, we all hit the wall. No matter what exercise that you’re doing or how great of shape that you’re in, you’ve got a limit. Beta-alanine will push you past your natural limit. There is nothing wrong with a little boost. It’s an all-natural supplement that is proven to work and be completely harmless.
Make sure your workouts are pretty hardcore when you’re on the beta-alanine part of your stack cycle. You need to keep them repetitious, intense, and ever-changing. Try to contain the rest periods down to 20 or 30 seconds, then go all out for another few minutes on the next exercise. Consider high-intensity training videos or a workout partner to keep you motivated and keep that carnosine building your lean muscle mass.
Try not to take too much beta-alanine. You want tingles, not hot flashes! Prior to trying to take a dose of beta-alanine supplement, check to see if there is already some included in any of the other supplement packages that you’re going to be taking. Adjust accordingly. If you happen to accidentally take too much prior to your workout, just take a seat and wait it out. It’s unfortunate, but it’s best not to put too much stress on your body at any given time. There is no reason to make it worse if it can be avoided and you can give it a crack tomorrow! Now get out there and sculpt that body into the masterpiece that you deserve!