Beta-alanine does not have post-workout benefits per se, but can improve exercise performance when taken regularly.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid that is naturally produced within the body. It is commonly taken as a pre-workout supplement used to:
- Enhance muscle endurance. Beta-alanine improves muscle buffering capacity, delaying the onset of fatigue during high-intensity exercise.
Beta-alanine is an amino acid considered non-essential because it is regularly generated in the body. It can also be found in protein-rich foods, such as poultry, lean beef, soybeans, and fish.
Recent years have seen a burst in popularity of beta-alanine supplementation in fitness and athletic circles, and it has quickly become one of the pre-workout favorites for its purported ability to enhance muscle endurance.
Although beta-alanine not directly used in the biosynthesis of any major proteins, it is the principal precursor to carnosine, a compound naturally present in muscle that works to decrease muscle fatigue during intense activity.1 The amount of evidence backing the use of beta-alanine to improve exercise performance is growing every day.
How Beta-Alanine Might Help Post Workout Formulas
Buffering muscle acid
Supplementing beta-alanine—the rate-limiting precursor to carnosine, a key muscle-defending compound— has been shown to directly increase the concentration of carnosine in muscle cells. Carnosine goes to work when the pH level around muscles begins to fall, as happens with the release of lactic acid after intense workouts. Carnosine boosts the body’s capacity to buffer acid and minimize the amount of damage it deals to muscle protein, prolonging the onset of fatigue during strenuous activity.2
Beta-Alanine’s Post Workout Benefits & Uses
Beta alanine is typically considered a pre-workout supplement because it boosts exercise performance and does not appear to have any recovery benefits. The primary benefit of beta-alanine is improved muscle endurance during anaerobic activity, particularly of 1-4 minutes in duration. 3
Animal studies positively highlight the workout benefits of beta-alanine:
- Decreasing post exercise lactic acid concentration in rats4
- Reducing muscle fatigue in rats5 and mice6
- Enhancing the recuperation of muscle force in mice7
Clinical studies overwhelmingly support the exercise performance benefits of beta alanine.
This double-blind study examined the effects of beta-alanine on exercise performance and lean body mass. Forty-six men were assigned to either placebo or 6 g/day beta-alanine for 21 days, followed by 3 g/day for 21 more days, while following a 6-week high-intensity interval training (HIIT) course consisting of 5-6 bouts of 2 minutes cycling with 1 minute rest.
While both placebo and supplemented groups had improved performance after 3 weeks of training, only the beta-alanine group had significant improvements during the last 3 weeks. Beta-alanine supplementation resulted in a significant increase in maximal oxygen consumption, time to exhaustion, total work done, and lean body mass (1 kg).
- The researchers concluded that “The use of HIIT to induce significant aerobic improvements is effective and efficient. Chronic BA supplementation may further enhance HIIT, improving endurance performance and lean body mass.”8
In this double-blind investigation, 15 male athletes participated in isokinetic testing, which involved knee extensions and indoor sprinting. Participants were given either a placebo or 4.8 grams of beta alanine every day during the 4-week period. Compared to the placebo, beta alanine was reported as significantly increasing carnosine content in leg muscles as well as improving knee extension and mitigating fatigue.
- The study concluded that “carnosine loading slightly but significantly attenuated fatigue in repeated bouts of exhaustive dynamic contractions.”9
In this investigation, 13 men took either a placebo or 6.4 grams of beta alanine every day for 4 weeks and performed an isometric knee extension exam until fatigue. The beta alanine group was found to have a 13.2% improvement in endurance and a 13.9% enhancement in the force and duration of muscle contraction.
- The study concluded that “four weeks of β-alanine supplementation at 6.4 g·d-1 improves endurance capacity of the knee extensors at 45% MVIC, which most likely results from improved pH regulation within the muscle cell as a result of elevated muscle carnosine levels.”10
In this randomized investigation, 33 males were given a placebo, creatine, or creatine plus beta alanine every day throughout the course of a 10-week resistance training program. Significantly greater increases in lean body mass and decreases in body fat were seen in the creatine plus beta alanine group than in the other groups.
- The study concluded that “creatine plus beta-alanine supplementation appeared to have the greatest effect on lean tissue accruement and body fat composition.”11
Dosage for Post Workout
- Research points to 3 – 6.4 grams as an effective daily amount of beta-alanine
- Typical supplemental capsules carry anywhere from 0.5 – 0.75 grams of beta-alanine per serving
- Beta-alanine is frequently sold as a powder in 0.5 – 1 gram servings
Supplements in Review Says
- Beta-alanine 3 grams daily.
Beta-alanine is a great way to improve anaerobic muscle performance. Beta alanine seems to be an effective way to improve anaerobic exercise performance, although it isn’t a post-workout supplement per se since it provides no recovery benefits.
Start with a safe 3 gram dose. Beginning with a low 3 gram dose is a good way to avoid paresthesia.
- Sale C, et al. Effect of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine concentrations and exercise performance. Amino Acids. 2010 Jul;39(2):321-33. ↩
- Culbertson JY, et al. Effects of beta-alanine on muscle carnosine and exercise performance: a review of the current literature. Nutrients. 2010 Jan;2(1):75-98. ↩
- Hobson RM. et al. Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino Acids. 2012 Jul; 43(1): 25–37. ↩
- Naderi A, et al. Effect of Four Weeks of β-alanine Supplementation on Muscle Carnosine and Blood Serum Lactate during Exercise in Male Rats. J Diet Suppl. 2016;13(5):487-94. ↩
- Dutka TL, et al. Effect of carnosine on excitation-contraction coupling in mechanically-skinned rat skeletal muscle. J Muscle Res Cell Motil. 2004;25(3):203-13. ↩
- Everaert I, et al. Effect of beta-alanine and carnosine supplementation on muscle contractility in mice. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013 Jan;45(1):43-51. ↩
- Derave W, et al. Creatine supplementation augments skeletal muscle carnosine content in senescence-accelerated mice (SAMP8). Rejuvenation Res. 2008 Jun;11(3):641-7. ↩
- Smith A. et al. Effects of β-alanine supplementation and high-intensity interval training on endurance performance and body composition in men; a double-blind trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009; 6: 5. ↩
- Derave W, et al. Beta-Alanine supplementation augments muscle carnosine content and attenuates fatigue during repeated isokinetic contraction bouts in trained sprinters. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2007 Nov;103(5):1736-43. ↩
- Sale C, et al. β-alanine supplementation improves isometric endurance of the knee extensor muscles. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012;9: 26. ↩
- Hoffman J, et al. Effect of creatine and beta-alanine supplementation on performance and endocrine responses in strength/power athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2006 Aug;16(4):430-46. ↩