Introduction to Beta Alanine

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Beta Alanine helps increase carnosine levels in the muscles which can aid in performance during certain types of metabolic workouts. Specifically when there is a longer time under significant tension per set (1).

How It Works

This is mostly a cumulative effect, so only taking a small amount before training is not going to give you the greatest potential benefit.  It can take 1-2 weeks of daily supplementation to saturate the muscle tissue at 1.5-4g per day depending on the person and how much muscle tissue they have.

Once the muscles are saturated, a much lower dose, about 2g is required on a daily basis to maintain carnosine levels. Carnosine levels return to baseline after approximately 2 weeks without supplementation. (2)

Carnosine helps to buffer lactic acid produced during training and can aid in extending the time you are able to work at higher intensities.  This does not diminish the effects of lactic training as it does not stop the production of lactic acid.

Increasing muscle carnosine levels will actually allow you to perform more total metabolic work before the buildup of lactate inhibits muscular contraction and you are no longer able to perform another rep (3).  It is for this reason that some claim that beta alanine has the ability to improve muscle gain and fat loss. The effect is indirect and still requires adequate training stimulus and nutrition. Taking beta alanine alone won’t put on muscle or help you lose fat any faster.

Doses & Timing

You don’t always have to take your beta alanine pre-workout if your goal is to increase muscle carnosine levels. You can space out doses throughout the day which can be beneficial for those who don’t tolerate larger doses well.

Some people can tolerate 2-3g at a time while others handle <1g at a time.  When you take more than your body tolerates you will notice it within minutes.  You’ll start to notice a tingly or itchy sensation on your skin, known as paraesthesia.

That sensation you get is a result of your nervous system being agitated. The tingling is NOT the goal.  While not necessarily harmful, it can be quite distracting and take your focus away from executing your workout with full intensity.

Finding Your Dose

You should try to find the dose that is just under the threshold of where you start to feel that sensation. We recommend starting low (500-1000mg) and titrating up in increments of 250-500mg until you hit the point where you experience paraesthesia.  Then stick with the dose that is 250-500mg below that amount.

Cycling Recommendations

Beta alanine is not something that necessarily needs to be cycled as your body does not build up a tolerance like it does to other substances.

It may be beneficial to keep in your regimen if you frequently switch to training stimuli that it would be helpful in.  This way you don’t have to start loading up on beta alanine 2 weeks before going to more lactic training program and have the flexibility to switch programs as frequently as necessary for your goals and trainability.

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