Endurance is the key to your overall performance. If you can sprint faster, row harder, or lift heavier, you can gain a competitive advantage and improve your results. Beta-Alanine is a beta amino acid, which has proven to enhance muscular endurance. But before we get to the clinical evidence that supports the claims and benefits of Beta-Alanine, let’s find out how Beta-Alanine actually works.
What Is Beta-Alanine?
Beta-Alanine is a non-essential beta amino acid, proven to improve muscle endurance by counteracting the development of lactic acid. Lactic acid is created from the buildup of Hydrogen Ions (H+), which causes our muscles pH to drop, becoming more acidic. During high-intensity training, lactic acid produces a burning sensation and causes increased fatigue, resulting in a loss of power and eventually muscle fatigue. Imagine if you were able to fight fatigue or the time between your lactic acid buildup and maintain a high-level of performance even at the point of exhaustion? You could increase training volume, which results in better performance. Let’s continue.
How Does Beta-Alanine Work?
Beta-alanine mixes within the bloodstream with the amino acid L-Histidine, creating a synergistic combination, which boosts the synthesis of a naturally occurring di-peptide Carnosine. Carnosine is found in both type 1 and type 2 muscle fibers. More prevalent in type 2 fibers however, which are primarily used in high-intensity strength training.
During high-intensity training, when hydrogen ions are released lactic acid starts to build within muscle fibers, Carnosine acts as a hydrogen-ion buffer, which delays or counteracts lactic acid buildup and the onset of muscle fatigue, increasing your exercise performance, by allowing you more time to exhaustion.
Clinical studies have shown that supplementation with beta-alanine increases muscle carnosine concentrations by up to 58 percent in just four weeks, and 80 percent in 10 weeks. Higher carnosine levels, means greater delayed lactic acid build up, resulting in more training, and harder workouts.
In a randomized, double-blind, controlled trial, conducted by Ghent University in Beligium, eighteen elite rowers were administered 5g of Beta-alanine or a placebo per day for 7 weeks. The study found that muscle carnosine levels increased 45.3% within the Beta-Alanine group and rowing times were 4.3 seconds faster than the placebo group. Therefore the study concluded that there was a positive correlation between muscle carnosine levels and enhanced endurance and training volume (1)
In another study published in the Journal of Strength And Conditioning 37 collegiate athletes were studied to examine the effectiveness of beta-alanine supplementation on anaerobic power output of high-intensity interval, repeated sprint, and resistance training. After eight weeks, and 4g of administered beta-alanine per day, the study found an increase in lean muscle mass and faster sprint times within the supplement group. Therefore beta-alanine seems to have a hypertrophic effect, either inherently or through greater workload, due to the buffering effects and build up of lactic acid (2)
How Much Beta-Alanine Should You Take?
In every clinically relevant study, subjects were administered around 5g of Beta-Alanine per day, which showed superior enhancements in muscular endurance. We suggest supplementing with the same amount of 5g per day before workouts to enhance training volume, and replicate results found in the studies that enhance overall exercise performance.
Beta Alanine Vs Creatine
What’s the difference between beta-alanine and creatine? Beta-Alanine works to enhance muscular endurance. Creatine Monohydrate is proven to increase muscular strength, power, and explosiveness. Therefore, the effects of each are very different, yet taken together could prove to be extremely beneficial in overall performance.
If you’re looking to improve your athletic performance and gain a competitive advantage, then you should absolutely have beta-alanine within your supplement arsenal.
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- Baguet A, Bourgois J, Vanhee L, Achten E, Derave W. Important role of muscle carnosine in rowing performance. J Appl Physiol. 2010;109(4):1096-101.
- Kern BD, Robinson TL. Effects of β-alanine supplementation on performance and body composition in collegiate wrestlers and football players. J Strength Cond Res. 2011;25(7):1804-15.