Beta-alanine is a popular supplement among athletes, and for good reason. Research has found that the benefits of beta-alanine include increasing performance and supporting overall health - both of which are high priorities for dedicated athletes and gym-goers.
What’s more, many fitness enthusiasts report being able to accomplish more reps or perform endurance sports for longer periods of time when supplementing with beta-alanine.
These beta-alanine effects sound great, right?
But many more people haven’t even heard of this amino acid, don’t know how it impacts their training, and aren’t sure how to integrate it into their daily nutrition. So, today we’ll uncover what it is, what the benefits of beta-alanine are, and when to take it for maximum impact.
What is beta-alanine?
Beta-alanine (3-amino propionic acid) is a non-essential amino acid that is produced naturally by the body and is a component of carnosine, anserine, and vitamin B5. It takes part in many metabolic processes.
The most significant of these processes for athletes is the reduction of lactic acid accumulation in the muscles.
During strenuous exercise, lactic acid is produced and broken down by your skeletal muscles. And - as you’ve probably experienced during a workout - the longer you exercise, the more difficult it becomes for your body to break it down in a timely manner.
Lactic acid is largely responsible for that “burn” you feel when you’ve been running, lifting weights, or participating in another endurance sport.
Beta-alanine combines with histamine to become a dipeptide molecule named carnosine. This molecule is stored in bulk in your muscles and brain tissue and is used to buffer lactic acid accumulation, which decreases discomfort and fatigue and improves athletic performance.
While the body has natural stores of carnosine, high-intensity athletes (who use much higher levels of amino acids than the average person) may get benefits of beta-alanine by eating foods or supplements that contain extra beta-alanine in them.
But what are the benefits of beta-alanine? Let’s take a look at what this amino acid can do for you.
5 benefits of beta-alanine for athletes
There are many positive benefits of beta-alanine. These benefits may include increased endurance ability, decreased fatigue, and improved overall wellness.
Runners, cyclists, rock climbers, and other endurance athletes may find beta-alanine particularly useful before a challenging workout or competition.
And, it may be even more important for vegan and vegetarian athletes who have less of this animal-based protein stored in their muscles due to their plant-based diet.
Here are some of the benefits you may enjoy after supplementing with beta-alanine:
1. Beta-alanine may help you longer before getting tired
The first of our benefits of beta-alanine relates to “time to exhaustion” (TTE). This refers to the amount of time a person can engage in an activity before they are overcome with fatigue.
Whether that’s 10 minutes or 2 hours depends on a host of factors, like your diet, sleep patterns, general fitness, and more.
Regardless of those factors, though, beta-alanine may just be one way to improve your TTE through increasing carnosine stores and decreasing the negative impact of lactic acid on your muscles.
A 2015 study found that cyclists who took daily beta-alanine supplements for 10 weeks were able to work 13% more than those who took the placebo.
2. Beta-alanine could increase your effort in short, high-intensity exercise
Muscle acidosis (the process where glucose is broken down into lactic acid) doesn’t just limit the amount of time you can do a high-intensity activity. It can also impact how hard you can go in the moment. This is especially relevant in endurance activities as well as challenging short-duration exercises like HIIT or Crossfit.
In a study done on the benefits of beta-alanine on high-intensity interval training, researchers found that taking beta-alanine supplements for 6 weeks improved the TTE for participants by 19%.
Another study done on rowers found that 7 weeks of beta-alanine supplementation was linked to faster speeds in 2,000-meter races.
3. Beta-alanine may help increase muscle endurance in people over 55
There may be additional benefits of beta-alanine for those who are aged 55 and older. The increased muscle endurance has beneficial quality-of-life applications that last well beyond your training years.
Older adults can decrease their risk of falls and increase their capacity for independent living through beta-alanine supplementation. In a double-blind randomized study on adults ages 55-92, researchers found that beta-alanine supplementation was associated with the delayed onset of neuromuscular fatigue in older men and women.
4. Beta-alanine may help you build lean muscle mass
By reducing your time to exhaustion, you will be able to get in longer, more difficult workouts. As such, your goals will be easier to reach - especially when you pair beta-alanine with a high-quality pre-workout protein supplement, like Frog Fuel Ultra liquid protein shots.
In a double-blind trial looking at the benefits of beta-alanine for building muscle mass, 46 men were assessed for peak O2 utilization, time to exhaustion, ventilatory threshold, and total work done.
Half of the group was then given 1.5 grams of beta-alanine four times a day for 21 days, and the other half was given a placebo. They were also asked to participate in a 6 week routine of HIIT workouts.
Not surprisingly, the researchers observed significant benefits of beta-alanine in all the participants in the areas measured. But there was an additional improved lean body mass in those taking the beta-alanine.
5. Beta-alanine may have antioxidant and anti-aging properties
You may not be taking a workout supplement to look younger, but if it happened, it wouldn’t hurt, right? Consider this just one more of the benefits of beta-alanine. The key is carnosine, which is what happens when you combine beta-alanine with histamine.
Studies have found that carnosine may act as an antioxidant in neutralizing free radicals, which supports the immune system and reduces the effects of oxidative stress on your body.
Carnosine may also elevate nitric oxide production, which improves oxygen and nutrient delivery to cells throughout the body. More nutrients and oxygen mean fuller, more supple skin. This, in turn, helps to preserve the body’s youthfulness and delay the onset of aging.
If your interest is piqued, it’s worth noting here that collagen protein has become widely known in the past couple of years because of its potential anti-aging qualities.
Aside from offering you a complete protein source, collagen is a vital ingredient in healthy nails, hair, and skin. This is one visible difference you may notice when you start taking a daily collagen protein supplement that contains beta-alanine.
But what are some other ways to get beta-alanine in your diet? Let’s take a look at foods that are naturally high in this beneficial amino acid.
Which foods contain beta-alanine?
Beta-alanine is found most densely in animal products such as fish, chicken, beef, and pork. And, when you consume beta-alanine in your diet, it is most often already combined with other molecules to form carnosine.
Here are the top food sources of beta-alanine:
Poultry. Turkey and chicken are some of the richest sources of beta-alanine. In 3 ounces of turkey breast, there are 2 grams of alanine. The same can be found in 1 cup of rotisserie chicken breast.
Soybeans. Soybeans have 3 grams of alanine in every cup. You can purchase soybeans to munch on as a snack, or use soy flour in your recipes.
Beef. Loin beef filet, top roast, ground beef, or other lean cuts all provide the benefits of beta-alanine due to their high beta-alanine content.
- Fish. A 3-ounce serving of yellowtail fish has an estimated 1 gram of alanine. Other types of fish with high protein and alanine include rainbow trout, tilefish, rockfish, coho salmon, pink salmon, haddock, mackerel, herring, and tuna.
Because beta-alanine is found mostly in animal products, it is not surprising that vegetarians and vegans have an average of 50% less carnosine than people who eat meat. For athletes following a plant-based diet, beta-alanine supplements may be particularly helpful in achieving optimum results in sports and fitness.
However, since collagen can only be found in animal proteins, we do not sell vegetarian or vegan collagen. We do, however, have several customers on plant-based diets who still enjoy getting the nutrients they need with Frog Fuel.
It’s their one flex food - and it’s a worthy one if you ask us.
When to take beta-alanine to get maximum benefits
Beta-alanine turns into the molecule carnosine the moment it’s ingested, which becomes an acid buffer in the body.
For this reason, most athletes choose to take beta-alanine pre-workout to get the most positive beta-alanine effects out of their supplement.
However, scientifically speaking, the timing of beta-alanine supplementation is actually not super important. This is because beta-alanine turns to carnosine and is stored in the muscles. It doesn’t simply disappear if you don’t work out shortly after (such as with caffeine).
Your carnosine stores are still there several days after supplementing with beta-alanine. Even better news, research has found that muscle stores of carnosine only decrease by 2% each week after you’ve stopped taking regular beta-alanine supplements.
Try taking beta-alanine with citrulline malate
Beta-alanine and citrulline malate - both active ingredients in Frog Fuel Ultra liquid protein shots - are an excellent pairing for those living an active lifestyle.
Citrulline malate is the amino acid citrulline combined with malate, an organic salt. It assists with multiple biochemical reactions in muscle tissue, including reducing lactic acid and ammonia buildup, increasing nitric oxide production, and increasing ATP energy.
Like beta-alanine, it just may enhance performance during endurance exercise or regular gym workouts. Try combining the benefits of beta-alanine with citrulline malate benefits for the best beta-alanine effects.
Ensure proper beta-alanine dosing
Scientific literature shows that beta-alanine supplementation should be started with a loading phase of 4-6g daily for 4 weeks. This is essential for increasing carnosine levels. After this, dosage may be dropped to 2g daily.
If you encounter paraesthesia (tingling) during the loading phase, you can try dividing your daily dosage into lower doses.
Frequently asked questions about beta-alanine
Here are a few questions people often ask before they make the plunge to start taking beta-alanine.
Are there any side effects to taking beta-alanine?
Some people who take beta-alanine may experience side effects such as tingling, flushing, and itching. If you experience any of these side effects, discontinue use and consult with a healthcare professional.
Note that these side effects are rare, and as such, you will be unlikely to experience them.
Should I take beta-alanine every day?
Beta-alanine is safe to take every day, and you will experience the most powerful benefits of beta-alanine if you take it regularly.
Does beta-alanine help build muscle?
As mentioned above, beta-alanine can help you to gain muscle mass by reducing exhaustion time, meaning that you can get in longer and more potent muscle-building sessions in the gym.
Can I take beta-alanine with other supplements?
Beta-alanine is a relatively safe supplement, and you can take beta-alanine with other supplements without any adverse effects.
Can I take beta-alanine while working out?
If you’re wondering what to drink during workouts and are curious as to whether beta-alanine can help, we are happy to confirm that beta-alanine can help your performance mid-workout.
Are there any precautions I need to take when taking beta-alanine?
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have any pre-existing medical conditions, or are taking any prescribed medications, please consult with a healthcare professional before taking beta-alanine.
Can I use beta-alanine as part of a football conditioning program?
If you’re wondering about using beta-alanine for your football conditioning program but are concerned that it may trigger a positive result for anabolic steroids, fear not. Beta-alanine contains no steroids, and as such, can be used even if you will be getting tested.
How long does it take beta-alanine to work?
Benefits of beta-alanine occur most notably during a workout, when you’ve realized you’ve pushed past that burn and can now work out longer than last time.
Some customers even report a stimulant-type response when taking beta-alanine, so we recommend multiple smaller doses throughout the day.
And, even though the stores will stay in your body for a few days, a pre-workout beta-alanine supplement will kick in as soon as you take it, making it a great addition to your pre-gym routine.
What’s the best beta-alanine supplement for athletes?
When it comes to fueling your body - and your workouts - it’s important to choose a supplement that is high quality and contains only trusted ingredients that will help you reach your goals.
Frog Fuel Ultra combines powerful nano hydrolyzed collagen protein with beta-alanine, citrulline malate, and hydrating electrolytes for the ultimate pre-workout.
Our Ultra line of supplements takes the benefits of beta-alanine, along with other active ingredients, and packages them into a convenient, ready-to-drink protein pouch.
Using liquid protein shots, you can consume Frog Fuel easily without any water, mixing, or shaker bottle required. These can be taken throughout the day for maximum endurance benefits and just before a workout for an energizing kick.
Ready to ramp up your workout?