Beta-alanine

September 8th, 2016 by

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There aren’t too many supplements, specifically ingredients, which have solid research behind them, but one that does is beta-alanine.

For those of you who don’t know, beta-alanine is an amino acid. When consumed, beta-alanine combines with another amino acid called histidine to form carnosine. It’s carnosine that’s really doing all the work because it helps buffer hydrogen ions.

So what are hydrogen ions? Well, you know when you’re exercising and performing a high number of reps and then you get a burning sensation in your muscles – there’s a good chance that’s hydrogen ions building up. Basically, carnosine helps reduce hydrogen ions, which allows you to squeeze out a few more reps. That being said, there is research to support this. In fact, there’s even one that came out this month in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. See below for more info.

In this study, researchers split 16 untrained, collegiate women into two groups. Both groups followed an 8-week, weight-training program consisting of 4 workouts a week. The difference between groups was that one received 3.4g of beta-alanine before their workouts while the other received a placebo.

Before and after the study, the researchers looked at the body composition (i.e. lean body mass, fat mass and body fat percentage) of each subject. They also had them perform one-rep max (1RM) on bench press and leg press. Subjects also performed as many reps as they could on bench press and leg press using 65% of their 1RM.

What they found was both groups increased lean body mass and decreased their fat mass and body fat percentage. There was no difference between groups. Likewise, both groups increased their 1RM on leg press and bench press, but there was no difference between groups. Both groups also increased the number of reps they could perform on bench press and leg press, however, the group taking beta-alanine before their workouts were able to perform significantly more.

Therefore, while beta-alanine doesn’t appear to help with body composition or maximal strength. It does look to have an affect on muscular endurance.

Also, just an FYI, while we don’t endorse one product over another, most of the research conducted uses CarnoSyn, which is the branded beta-alanine.

Finally, be forewarned, beta-alanine can cause an tingling sensation under the skin with effects feeling more pronounced when you first start using it.

For more information:
Outlaw, J.J. et al. Effects of β-Alanine on Body Composition and Performance Measures in Collegiate Women. J Strength Cond Res. 2016. Sep. 30(9): 2627–2637