Beta alanine is considered one of the most effective sports supplements of all time. Widely known for its iconic “tingles”, otherwise known as paresthesia, studies have shown that the non-essential amino acid beta alanine significantly improves muscular endurance and exercise capacity. Foods that contain beta-alanine can improve blood plasma level concentrations, however, maintaining that amount may prove to be difficult with diet alone. We’re going to discuss which beta-alanine foods contain the highest concentration of beta-alanine to help you improve your athletic performance.
What Is Beta-Alanine
Beta-alanine is a non-essential, beta amino acid naturally found within the body. Beta-alanine supports the synthesis of a di-peptide called carnosine, which acts as a buffer against lactic acid. Studies have shown that elevated levels of carnosine in the body delays the onset of muscle fatigue. Delayed muscle fatigue means increased time to exhaustion, which can extend endurance, improve workout volume, build muscle strength, sharpen mental focus, and enhance peak performance [R].
Carnosine is a dipeptide – a molecule made of two amino acids bonded together, consisting of beta alanine and histidine. These dipeptides are rich in foods such as poultry, beef, and seafood.
Carnosine is found exclusively in animal tissue, think “carnivore” to help you remember foods rich in carnosine are found in protein. The average daily intake of carnosine from foods, is between 50-250mg dependent upon protein intake. Supplementing with beta-alanine with an average of 4-6g per day can significantly increase carnosine concentration up to 64% after 4 weeks, and 80% after 10 weeks. Considering that beta-alanine from food is so minimal, supplementation is highly recommended as a stand-alone supplement to enhance muscular endurance and workout volume. When it comes to improving athletic performance, the beta-alanine from your body’s natural production and most diets is simply not enough [R].
Beta Alanine Foods
It’s important to remember that carnosine and Beta-alanine are two different molecules. More carnosine content is key to increasing athletic performance outcomes, therefore we will cover what foods have beta-alanine and their concentrated amounts of carnosine.
Chicken is found to have a concentrated amount of beta alanine with even more carnosine content, containing 1-2g of carnosine and 0.2-0.5g of beta-alanine per 4oz serving. It may not sound like a lot, but a few chicken breasts throughout the day, will give you a whopping 1g of beta-alanine per day.
Turkey much like chicken is also rich in beta-alanine and carnosine. Adding some lean ground turkey to your weekly meal prep is an easy and convenient way to get more beta-alanine and protein into your diet.
Depending on the cut, beef is loaded with carnosine, containing 1.6-2.8g per on average per 4oz. Beef also contains 0.5 – 1g of beta alanine per 40z cut. Sticking to lean cuts of beef and adding them to your weekly meal prep will load you with more beta-alanine and carnosine in your diet.
4oz of white fish has over around 0.5g of beta-alanine per serving, and 1g of carnosine. Fish and seafood is another great beta alanine rich food way to get more carnosine in your diet to help improve performance.
Studies show a dosage of 4-6g of beta-alanine per day up for a minimum of 4 weeks, is required for an increase in atheltic performance benefits.
Beta-Alanine Rich Foods: Takeaway
Adding more high-quality sources of protein to your diet, is a great way to increase your intake of beta-alanine. However, in order to derive the ergogenic benefits of beta-alanine, diet is simply not enough. Supplementing with a stand-alone beta-alanine supplement, is the best way to increase muscle carnosine content to improve exercise performance, delay muscle fatigue, and increase strength gains
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Trexler, Eric T et al. “International society of sports nutrition position stand: Beta-Alanine.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition vol. 12 30. 15 Jul. 2015, doi:10.1186/s12970-015-0090-y
Wu, Guoyao. “Important roles of dietary taurine, creatine, carnosine, anserine and 4-hydroxyproline in human nutrition and health.” Amino acids vol. 52,3 (2020): 329-360. doi:10.1007/s00726-020-02823-6