Supplement Beta-alanine, what is the Big Deal?

Posted: Monday, 5 March 2012 by Strength&Nutrition24/7 in Labels:

Topics covered

  1. What is Beta-alanine Used for?
  2. What is Beta-alanine?
  3. Why is Carnosine So Important?
  4. Why Not Take Carnosine Supplement Instead of Beta-Alanine?
  5. If we get it naturally why should we supplement?
  6. How Much Should I Take?
  7. How Should I take it?
  8. Is it Safe for Me to Take It?


What is Beta-alanine used for?
Common uses:

  • Increase muscle hypertrophy
  • Increase muscle strength
  • Increase power output
  • Proton Buffering
  • Anticatabolic

What is Beta-alanine?

Beta- alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is common in foods especially meats. Recap:

  • Must be ingested from diet 


  • Body can produce them

Conditionally Essential

  • Must be ingested from diet during stressful conditions

It is believed to be the rate-limiting substrate for synthesis of carnosine, which is an important intracellular buffer

Why is Carnosine So Important?
It is an important intracellular buffer and is especially important in dealing with glycation

What is Glycation?

  • is the result of the bonding of a protein or lipid molecule with a sugar molecule, such as fructose or glucose, without the controlling action of an enzyme
  • Glycation may occur either inside the body (endogenous glycation) or outside the body (exogenous glycation). Enzyme-controlled addition of sugars to protein or lipid molecules is termed glycosylation; glycation is a haphazard process that impairs the functioning of biomolecules, whereas glycosylation occurs at defined sites on the target molecule and is required in order for the molecule to function.
Glycation side effects
  • The by-products of glycation have been found to cause diseases such as
  • Cardio vascular disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, peripheral neuropathy, and other sensory losses such as deafness

What else does Carnosine do?
Physiological actions attributed to carnosine:

  • Acting as an antioxidant
  • Regulation of Ca+2
  • Excitation-contraction coupling
  • Protection against glycation by acting as a sacrificial peptide
  • Carnosine decreases intracellular ph associated with anaerobic metabolism
  • Of these, only that of pH buffering is undisputed

Why Not Take Carnosine Supplement Instead of Beta-Alanine?

To obtain these aforementioned benefits of carnosine, it would seem logical to simply ingest supplemental carnosine. However, when consumed orally in humans, carnosine is rapidly hydrolyzed in blood plasma by the enzyme carnosinase. Independent ingestion of beta-alanine and histidine allows these 2 molecules to be transported into the skeletal muscle and be resynthesized into carnosine. It appears that beta-alanine is the amino acid that influences intramuscular carnosine levels the most

Where is Carnosine Found?

Carnosine is mainly found in type IIa and type IIx fibers in skeletal muscle and contribute to intracellular buffering of H+.

How do we Increase Carnosine without Supplementation?

  • Carnosine concentrations in athletes such as sprinters is higher than in marathoners or untrained individuals
  • Intense physical training may increase muscle carnosine concentrations

If we get it naturally why should we supplement?

  • Two to four weeks of beta-alanine supplementation increased muscle carnosine by 60% and 10 weeks increased it by 80% (Hill et al., 2007).
  • In theory, increasing skeletal muscle carnosine levels (via beta-alanine supplementation or intense training) should increase buffering capacity, delay fatigue, and increase exercise performance.
  • Higher carnosine concentration in muscle was associated with higher mean power from a 30-s maximal sprint on a cycle ergometer

How Much Should I Take?

clinical trials providing beta-alanine in the context of exercise performance are few. Therefore, recommended dosages can only be based on what the majority of what these trials have reported. On a total gram per day basis, beta-alanine ingestion has ranged from 2.4 to 6.4 g per day. In most of these trials, the total daily amount of beta-alanine ingestion was divided into 2 to 8 smaller doses, with the most common being 4 equal doses of 1.6 g per dosage. Due to the relatively few investigations reporting different intakes of beta-alanine, more research is needed to determine the optimal dosage of beta-alanine.

How Should I take it?

Is it Safe for Me to Take It?

  • Always consult your doctor prior to taking supplements
Body weight, side effects, and treatment:
  • Body weight (kg) was similar between groups in the pretesting (PL = 71.5 T 2.5; AALA = 73.4 T 2.2; NS) as well as in the post testing (PL = 70.9 T 2.9; AALA = 73.1 T 3.0; NS). None of the subjects reported any significant side effect during the period of the study. At the end of the study, the subjects were asked as to whether they could identify the treatment received. Both in PL and AALA, two subjects correctly identified their treatment, whereas the others were either unsure or guessed the wrong treatment. Thus, treatment identification was not different between the two experimental groups.


  • Dunnett, M., & Harris, R. C. (1999). Influence of oral betaalanine and L-histidine supplementation on the carnosine content of the gluteus medius. Equine Veterinary Journal Supplement, 30, 499 – 504.
  • Harris RC, Tallon MJ Dunnett M, Boobis L, Coakley J, Kim HJ, Fallowfield JL, Hill CA, Sale ‘C, Wise JA (2006). The absorption of orally supplied b-alanine and its effect on muscle carnosine synthesis in human vastus lateralis. Amino Acids 30: 279–289
  • Hill, C. A., Harris, R. C., Kim, H. J., Harris, B. D., Sale, C., Boobis, L. H. et al. (2007). Influence of beta-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity. Amino Acids, 32, 225 – 233.
  • Tipton, K. D., Jeukendrup, A. E., & Hespel, P. (2007). Nutrition for the Sprinter . Journal of Sports Sciences, 25(S1), S5-S15.
  • Campbell, Bill, I., Wilborn, Coling, D., & La Bounty, Paul, M. (2010). supplements for strength-power athletes. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 32(1), 93-100.
  • Van Thienen R, Van Proeyen K,  Vanden Eynde B,  Puype J,  Lefere T, Hespel P. (2009) Beta-alanine improves sprint performance in endurance cycling. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, 41, 898–903.


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  1. Oligopeptide-6 is a synthetic peptide consisting of alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, phenylalanine and threonine Oligopeptide-6