Beta Alanine – the tingles
You know that tingly feeling you get when you have a pre workout? That’s the feeling that Beta Alanine, or CarnoSyn can have on some people. (If you don’t like the tingles, you can drink your beta alanine slower, and make sure you don’t have it on an empty stomach!)
But what can beta alanine do for you, and why should you consider taking it?
Beta alanine is an amino acid and is considered to be non-essential. (Some amino acids are essential, some conditionally essential and some non-essential). Here at AAA supplements, we would like you to understand why you might like to consider it essential for your workout! Structurally, beta-alanine is a cross between the neurotransmitters glycine and GABA.
Beta Alanine/ CarnoSyn is considered to increase levels of carnosine in the muscle and therefore increase the amount of effort that you can do at high workloads.
Beta Alanine can be produced in one of three ways: the breakdown of dipeptides; the byproduct of alanine to pyruvate; and it can be formed during digestion when intestinal microbes remove a carbon atom from L-aspartate, releasing both beta-alanine and CO2.
When you take Beta Alanine, it passes from the bloodstream to the skeletal muscle via a transporter that depends upon sodium and chloride. When it enters the muscle cell it forms the dipeptide carnosine. That’s the cool part: beta alanine is actually the rate-limiter for carnosine synthesis.
When you supplement with beta alanine, muscle carnosine significantly increases, and that’s not just limited to certain people. Although there are occasionally non-responders to creatine, everyone tested responds to beta alanine.
Higher levels of carnosine in muscle can be found after just 5 weeks of supplementation (just over half), and after 10 weeks it increases by 80 percent!
Increasing carnosine (a powerful antioxidant) works in two ways:
1. it is a way to reduce muscle fatigue. When pH levels drop, forget doing an extra rep in your set.
2. Bigger concentrations of carnosine are linked with having a high percentage of type 2 fast twitch muscle. So sprinters, and people with lots of muscle have greater levels of carnosine.
What Are The Sources Of Beta-Alanine?
Beta alanine usually comes from your food. Most comes after digestion of animal proteins: so it is no surprise that you’ll find that in just 5 weeks of a vegetarian diet that carnosine is lower in the muscle than carnivores or omnivores.
What can it do for my performance?
Beta alanine can assist in short-to-medium duration high-intensity muscle performance, so bouts of longer than 60s. Four weeks of six grams per day of beta-alanine increased the punch force of amateur boxers by an amazing 20 times. Cyclists also had significant improvement in all out cycle tests of four minutes in both the first minute and last minute after dosing with beta alanine.
When Should I Take It?
There is an immediate stimulant response to taking Beta Alanine and for that reason it’s often good to take it pre workout, but the greatest effects are seen in taking it daily from the increase in the muscle carnosine concentration over time. So take it daily!
The dose response to beta-alanine increases exponentially over time because of the long clearance time of elevated muscle carnosine concentrations. Once you build up your carnosine concentration with beta-alanine, those elevated levels have been shown to drop by just two percent every two weeks after you cease supplementing.
How Should I Combine It?
CREATINE: If you aren’t interested in combining beta alanine with creatine, think again and read what creatine can do here. Creatine and beta alanine are synergists so not only are you stronger, but you recover better to increase your work volume. Increasing work volume ultimately means that you get more done in the same length of time and therefore quicker gains in a shorter amount of time.
TAURINE: Another good one to combine is taurine: very important for neuromuscular, cognitive and lung function. Beta alanine and taurine compete for pathways, and the concentration of one effects the other. If you increase one of these two without the other, it may lead to neurological and neuromuscular decreases in performance.
Another suggestion if you are training for sports would be to consider BCAAs, glutamine, Omega 3, and maybe citrulline.
Should I cycle it?
Cycle beta alanine if you do not have taurine in your other supplements.
If you do not supplement with taurine, cycle 4-9 weeks on Beta alanine and to 4-9 weeks off as the effects of beta alanine supplementation after saturation in the muscle remains elevated for at least 4 weeks after supplementation.
Since we do not yet know whether there is a dose dependant increase to power output in muscle carnosine concentrations (i.e does 80% concentration have a rate dependent effect higher than 50%), or whether it is helpful to cycle beta alanine after a certain muscle carnosine concentration, it’s unclear whether it is most beneficial to stay on beta alanine long term or cycle it. I personally tend to have it long term in my supplement regime and take 1-2 full days off a week, plus take it off for my deload week every 6 weeks.
Can you have side effects?
You might recall feeling pins and needles in your neck or arms the first time you tried a pre-workout supplement that contained beta-alanine. On your first intake, these pins and needles can last up to 90 minutes.
If pins and needles are a concern, simply limit initial consumption to no more than about 800-1200 mg of beta-alanine, every 3-4 hours, for the first four weeks. This will be sufficient to derive the supplement’s performance benefits and your reaction to its use. You can also consider having beta alanine with food, as every dose of beta alanine simply adds to muscle carnosine concentration levels.
Who should take Beta Alanine?
Anyone looking to increase their performance, especially women, vegetarians and hard gainers! Check your pre workout for Beta Alanine, or make sure you supplement exogenously with beta alanine.