Beta-alanine is an amino acid commonly used in workout supplements.
The ingredient is popular because of its positive impacts on exercise performance, capacity, and endurance (1).
In this blog post, we’ll give you a full rundown of –
- What beta-alanine is.
- How beta-alanine works.
- How beta-alanine helps your workout.
- How much beta-alanine to take.
- Potential beta-alanine side effects.
- And much more.
First up –
What is beta-alanine?
Beta-alanine is a naturally-occurring amino acid.
(You may also see this amino acid called β-alanine, using the Greek symbol for ‘beta’.)
Most people get beta-alanine from their diet, however, because many of the main sources are not vegetarian or vegan – for example, meat, fish, and poultry.
Because of this, people with vegetarian or vegan diets may look to supplement beta-alanine, as their dietary intake is likely to be lower.
Beta-alanine is commonly found in exercise supplements too, thanks to its numerous links with positive workout outcomes (more on this later).
What is an amino acid?
Answering the question “what are amino acids?” relies on a lot of unavoidable scientific jargon.
Amino acids are compounds with specific chemical properties.
They contain amine, as well as having carboxyl functional groups.
Each amino acid has a specific side chain, which allows it to be involved in chemical reactions with compatible molecules.
Science aside though, the question you’re probably more interested in is –
How do amino acids help my workout?
Amino acids are involved in almost all body functions. They’re the building blocks out of which proteins are built in your body.
Some amino acids are involved in bodily processes that create energy.
Beta-alanine is a precursor to carnosine, meaning that it’s required for carnosine to be manufactured in your body.
Carnosine reduces acidity in your muscles during anaerobic exercise, helping to boost your endurance and output.
This means that beta-alanine helps your workout by ensuring your body has the building blocks to create carnosine.
What does beta-alanine do, and what are the key beta-alanine benefits?
Beta-alanine has numerous positive impacts on exercise performance and outcomes.
In the introduction, we mentioned that beta-alanine is linked to improvements in exercise performance, capacity, and endurance.
Here are some specific benefits associated with beta-alanine in multi-ingredient pre-workout formulations, like the Powher Pre Workout for Women –
Beta-alanine increases exercise power output (2, 3). Why this matters: You’ll be able to achieve higher intensity muscle-based outcomes. The study cited showed higher intensity squats and bench presses.
Beta-alanine increases muscular endurance (4, 5). Why this matters: You’ll be able to work out for longer before feeling tired or getting exhausted, helping you to squeeze out a few more reps or metres.
Beta-alanine improves self-reported energy and focus (9, 10). Why this matters: Higher energy and better focus give you the physical resource you need for a better workout, and the mental encouragement you need to keep going.
Here are some of the other positive exercise outcomes that beta-alanine is linked to – not specifically in the context of multi-ingredient pre-workout formulations – along with scientific sources –
Beta-alanine improves exercise capacity for activities lasting 60 – 240s (14). Why this matters: You’ll be able to work harder and achieve more for exercises in this timeframe, whether it’s a run or a bout of cardio.
Beta-alanine increases muscle carnosine (15, 16) by 20-80% (17, 18). Why this matters: Carnosine is a buffer against muscle acidity arising from anaerobic exercise (19), linking higher carnosine levels with extended exercise and delayed fatigue.
Beta-alanine contributes to reduced muscle acidity. Why this matters: Lactic acid levels in your muscles increase during a workout, and this acidity is what leads to feelings of tiredness and discomfort. By reducing the acidity, carnosine helps to prolong the onset of these things. Beta-alanine is vital for this process.
The positive impacts above are primarily linked to anaerobic exercise.
The science behind the role of beta-alanine supplementation in aerobic exercise is less definitive (20).
Once your exercise duration extends beyond four minutes, your body’s ATP demand is met by aerobic rather than anaerobic pathways.
One study found that beta-alanine supplementation did increase performance in aerobic exercise over four minutes, but less so than in anaerobic bouts (21).
However, there is less unanimous consent on this point than other findings associated with beta-alanine.
In the pursuit of transparency and clarity, it’s also worth knowing the things where beta-alanine isn’t linked with performance improvements –
Beta-alanine doesn’t improve power in repeated short bouts (24). Why this matters: If your workout consists of multiple bouts of exercise lower than 60s each, beta-alanine supplementation won’t have much impact (for example, no improvements were found in 400m sprints averaging 51.3s (25)).
How does beta-alanine work?
Beta-alanine is used by your body to synthesise carnosine in your muscles.
The synthesis of carnosine relies on histidine levels being low, and beta-alanine levels being high.
If beta-alanine levels are too low, carnosine will not be synthesised. This is why beta-alanine supplementation can be an effective way of improving workout outcomes, through increased carnosine synthesis.
Women usually have lower baseline carnosine than men.
However, beta-alanine supplementation is linked to increases in muscular carnosine regardless of baseline (28). This suggests that supplementation can be helpful for anyone.
Bear in mind that people respond differently to beta-alanine supplementation. One study found that the muscular carnosine increase after beta-alanine supplementation ranged from 15% in “low responders” to 55% in “high responders” (29).
This means that some people will benefit more from supplementation than others, and without trying beta-alanine yourself, there’s no way to know where you’ll land on the low-high response spectrum.
Carnosine increases after beta-alanine supplementation were found to be higher amongst vegetarians (30).
How to take beta-alanine?
You can take beta-alanine by itself, or via a multi-ingredient supplement that contains other things as well.
The Powher Pre-Workout for Women is one example of a multi-ingredient supplement containing beta-alanine.
When you buy a beta-alanine supplement or a pre-workout supplement, you’ll find usage directions on the packaging.
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as each product will vary slightly. However, you should always follow the directions to the letter, as they’re often carefully written to ensure a safe experience that delivers the expected results.
What’s the best beta-alanine dosage?
If you’re looking to hit the ISSN’s recommended daily dose of beta-alanine, we recommend stacking the Powher Pre-Workout with a dedicated beta-alanine supplement.
In fact, this chimes exactly with the summary of the ISSN’s findings (33) –
“Combining beta-alanine with other single or multi-ingredient supplements may be advantageous when the dose of beta-alanine is sufficient (i.e., 4–6 g daily) and the treatment duration is at least 4 weeks.”
Doing this is safe as long as you don’t exceed their recommended level.
Take extra care if you’re stacking multiple products that contain the same ingredients. In this case, you need to ensure that you don’t exceed the recommended daily allowance of any of the ingredients in either formula.
Going back to beta-alanine…
Optimal results were found when supplementation took place for at least four weeks. This minimum duration is linked to increases in muscular carnosine concentrations, giving rise to the myriad positive impacts of beta-alanine outlined above.
When should I take beta-alanine?
Research shows that taking beta-alanine alongside a meal is effective for boosting muscular carnosine levels (34).
However you probably don’t want to eat just before a workout.
This is why we advise taking Powher Pre-Workout as a drink. It’s a quick and reliable way to deliver the ingredients to your bloodstream before you exercise, so they can get to work.
If you decide to stack beta-alanine products, you can take them later in the day after your workout.
That way, your body’s beta-alanine baseline will gradually increase over the period of time you’re taking the supplements.
This means that when the time comes to workout, you’ll have beta-alanine at the levels associated with the majority of benefits outlined above.
Why does beta-alanine make you tingle?
The beta-alanine tingle is a commonly-searched beta-alanine side effect.
Tingling is associated with non-sustained release forms of beta-alanine (35). Sustained-release beta-alanine is not associated with tingles.
If you do experience tingling, this usually disappears 60-90 minutes after ingesting beta-alanine (36).
It’s nothing to worry about, either –
A detailed analysis of multiple studies into beta-alanine found no evidence that tingling is harmful in the short term or long term (37).
Are there any other beta-alanine side effects?
Beyond the beta-alanine tingle (formally known as paraesthesia), the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) note that beta-alanine has no other reported side effects (38).
We did find some mentions of ‘beta-alanine itch’ while researching this article. However, it looks like this is just how some people describe the tingling we’ve already mentioned.
The Office of Dietary Supplements backup the ISSN’s claim that paraesthesia is the only reported side effect of beta-alanine.
What is the best beta-alanine supplement?
The answer to this question depends on your needs and workout goals.
We recommend the Powher Pre-Workout as a source of 1g daily beta-alanine, an amount which can be topped up with other products.
The Powher Pre-Workout for Women is a multi-ingredient supplement designed to deliver numerous benefits to your workout. We’ve built the formula to energise you, and to boost your endurance and motivation.
However, it’s not a dedicated beta-alanine supplement.
Many women are looking for a holistic pre-workout to keep them working out harder and longer, meaning that Powher aligns perfectly with their needs.
There you have it
Hopefully, our blog post has answered all of the questions you have about beta-alanine.
This amino acid plays an important role in the body. It’s a building block of carnosine and, together, these two chemicals deliver a range of exercise benefits.
We’ve introduced a lot of these benefits, and backed them up with peer-reviewed scientific research and opinion from international sports nutrition organisations.
The information we’ve provided here is designed to help you make an informed decision about which supplements are right for your personal workout needs.