So, you have taken a step forward and decided to focus on your physical health – Getting healthier by exercising and training your body regularly. The first workout goes really well and you are proud of your efforts and the way you sweat out those extra calories from your body. The next morning, when you try to get out of the bed, you would most certainly have that wincing pain of muscle soreness and “What-have-I-done?”, “I-can’t-move” kind of feeling. At that time, all you could think of are the ways to reduce the soreness and get you back to your normal self at the earliest. A big catch to get you up and running is Beta-Alanine. What is Beta-alanine and how would it help your body after the workout? Read more to find out!
What is Beta-alanine?
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid formed in the liver or by gut microbes. Unlike the amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins, Beta-alanine is used to produce carnosine. Beta-alanine produces carnosine by combining with L-histidine in muscle or in the brain.
L-Carnosine or Carnosine is the one which could be stored in skeletal muscles and acts as an intracellular buffer to Hydrogen. It reduces the accumulation of lactic acid in your muscles and thereby helps in improving athletic performance. They are particularly helpful in moderate to high-intensity exercises by helping in withstanding the fatigue more effectively.
According to research, it has been proven that women and vegetarians have a lower amount of muscle carnosine compared to men and non-vegetarians respectively. Additionally, all of them have decreased levels of body carnosine with age. In these cases, supplementing the body with Beta-alanine helps. But how exactly does Beta-alanine play a role in reducing body fatigue? You can find the solution in the following sections.
How does Beta-alanine work?
In normal conditions, the human body has high levels of histidine and low levels of Beta-alanine. This restricts the production of carnosine. Supplementing your body with Beta-alanine increases the production of carnosine and there are high chances that the carnosine levels elevate up to 80%. But how does carnosine work to reduce fatigue? Here is its mechanism:
The breakdown of glucose is known as glycolysis. Glucose is a fuel which could be broken down to produce energy during high-intensity workouts.
Production of lactate:
The broken down glucose gets converted into lactic acid and then it is converted into lactate by releasing the hydrogen ions (H+).
Increase in acidity:
As the number of hydrogen ions increase, acidity in the muscles peaks up and the pH level of your muscles reduces.
The increase in the acidity level of the muscles creates an unfavorable environment for the breakdown of glucose and blocks it. This reduces the ability of the muscle to contract. Thus increasing the stiffness and fatigue.
The carnosine produced using Beta-alanine acts as a buffer against the acid and traps hydrogen ions. This reduces the acidity in muscles and increases muscle endurance and decreases the fatigue in high-intensity workouts.
Health Benefits of Beta-alanine:
Being aware of how Beta-alanine could help your body in reducing fatigue during exercises, let us look into the other benefits of Beta-alanine.
Effects on athletic performance and strength:
Aforementioned, Beta-alanine is known for its ability to reduce fatigue, increase the endurance power and boost performance in high-intensity exercises.
Beta-alanine increases the time to exhaustion (TTE) which means it would help you in exercising for a longer period by increasing the ventilation rate and without the feeling of fatigue. Beta-alanine prevents the acidosis which could limit the high-intensity and short-duration exercise.
Increases muscle mass:
Beta-alanine plays role in increasing the oxygen intake and thereby increasing the ventilatory threshold. It also decreases body fat and increases fat-free mass, endurance, stamina, and overall body mass.
Lowers Anxiety and improves PTSD:
Beta-alanine favors the production of carnosine in the brain. Along with bodybuilding benefit of Carnosine, it is also known to reduce the anxiety by increasing the concentration of anti-anxiety molecules, Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). This factor is popular for its capability to reduce any Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) symptoms.
May improve cognitive function:
Beta-alanine might improve the cognitive function while under stress such as combat practice.
In the cases of breast cancer, Beta-alanine reduced tumor function and its aggressiveness. In the case of colon and rectal tumor cells, it reduced the tumor cell growth.
Aging comes with various health issues due to the age-related stress (also known as glycoxidation stress). It could damage the cells and increases the chance of age-related chronic diseases. The carnosine molecule produced by Beta-alanine helps in combating this and thereby increases the individual’s lifespan.
Recommended dosage of Beta-alanine:
The daily standard recommended dosage of Beta-alanine is 2-5 grams.
Although the beta-alanine is a pre-workout supplement, the supplementation is not timing dependent. The muscle carnosine could be increased up to 80% if the doses of Beta-alanine consumption is 3.2 to 6.4 g for 4-12 weeks. Research suggests that the efficiency of Beta-alanine increases if taken along with a meal such as a pre-exercise meal. Beta-alanine supplements could also be combined with sodium bicarbonate, creatine, and various other pre-workout supplements. Combining Beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate supplements could inhibit acidosis in an efficient manner whereas combining Beta-alanine with creatine could benefit your exercise performance, strength, and lean muscle mass.
Food sources of Beta-alanine:
Nutrition supplements are not a substitute for a nutritionally balanced diet! Supplements are like an addendum to boost your physical health and shape of your body. For this very reason, you need to supply your body with Beta-alanine rich foods along with Beta-alanine supplements. The top foods that are rich in Beta-alanine are Meat, fish, and poultry. Since a vegetarian diet doesn’t consist any of these foods, it is common for vegetarians and vegans to have 50% less carnosine. Beta-alanine in foods is a part of larger compounds which consists carnosine and anserine. Beta-alanine is broken free when digested.
Side effects of Beta-alanine:
Beta-alanine poses side effects when taken in excess but there is no evidence that it could be harmful in any way. High doses of Beta-alanine i.e. >800 mg could cause Paresthesia or itching. Paresthesia is an unusual sensation of tingling of the skin. Generally, it is experienced in the face, neck, and back of the hands. The itching is due to the fact that excess Beta-alanine binds and activates MRGPRD (a receptor found in skin’s sensory neurons). This causes itchy feeling. The intensity of tingling is directly proportional to the dosage of Beta-alanine. It usually disappears after 60-90 minutes of Beta-alanine consumption.
The other possible side effects of Beta-alanine is its ability to reduce the absorption of taurine levels into the muscles. It is because of the reason that Beta-alanine competes against taurine during the absorption.
Although other side effects of Beta-alanine are not well researched, some consumers have complained about flushing or hot flashes.
How to reduce the side effects?
- Beta-alanine dosage consumption should be under 800 mg
- Consume slow-release doses of Beta-alanine. It releases Beta-alanine into your body slowly
Sore today and strong tomorrow – is a mantra all bodybuilders would like to follow. But Beta-alanine jumps in as a savior and soothes the soreness while keeping your strong tomorrow part of the mantra intact. Beta-alanine is a performance-enhancing supplement that has hit the sports nutrition market since creatine (creatine blog link). It helps in training the body harder and accomplish more in each gym session. So, supplement your body with Beta-alanine and utilize its superpower.