Beta-Alanine: Boost Your Endurance and Power Up Your Workouts

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Beta-alanine supplements are known to help improve endurance, reduce muscle fatigue, and aid in the development of lean muscle mass, making them a favored option for people aiming to enhance their physical performance. This article will examine the scientific basis of beta-alanine and discuss its various health benefits for both competitive athletes and individuals engaged in regular fitness activities. For those looking to improve their exercise outcomes or intensify their workout routines, beta-alanine could provide a beneficial addition to their supplement regimen.

What Is Beta-Alanine?

Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid naturally occurring in the body and found in various protein-rich foods. Unlike other amino acids, beta-alanine is not used to synthesize proteins but plays a critical role in the production of carnosine, a compound vital for muscle endurance in high-intensity exercise. Beta-alanine supplements are recognized in fitness and sports nutrition circles for their potential to enhance performance and delay muscle fatigue.

Metabolism of Beta-Alanine to Carnosine and Its Benefits

Once in the body, beta-alanine travels to skeletal muscle cells, where it combines with histidine, another amino acid, to form carnosine. This process is significant because histidine is typically present in high concentrations in muscle cells, but beta-alanine is the limiting factor in carnosine synthesis. Therefore, supplementing with beta-alanine can increase muscle carnosine levels.

Carnosine acts as a buffer, reducing acidity in muscles during high-intensity exercise. As muscles work, they produce lactic acid, which lowers the pH inside muscle cells. This acidic environment contributes to muscle fatigue and decreases the muscles’ ability to contract forcefully. By buffering this acidity, carnosine allows for extended periods of high-intensity performance, delaying the onset of fatigue and improving overall exercise capacity.

Furthermore, carnosine has been attributed with antioxidant properties, protecting cells from damage caused by reactive oxygen species produced during exercise. This dual role of buffering acid and combating oxidative stress makes carnosine—and by extension, beta-alanine supplementation—an important factor in enhancing athletic performance and recovery.

What Are the Benefits of Beta-Alanine?

  • Improved overall exercise capacity: By enhancing endurance, delaying fatigue, and supporting higher levels of performance, beta-alanine can contribute to an overall improvement in exercise capacity. This means that individuals may be able to train at a higher intensity for longer durations, leading to more significant improvements in fitness and athletic performance over time.
    • Reduced muscle soreness: Some studies suggest that beta-alanine supplementation may lead to a reduction in muscle soreness following intense exercise, may allow for quicker recovery between workouts.
    • Increased endurance during high-intensity exercise: Beta-alanine supplementation has been shown to increase the body’s stores of carnosine, a compound that helps buffer against the buildup of lactic acid in muscles. This buffering effect allows individuals to sustain higher levels of exertion for longer periods, resulting in improved endurance during activities such as sprinting, cycling, or high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
    • Delayed onset of muscle fatigue: By enhancing the buffering capacity of muscles, beta-alanine can delay the onset of fatigue during intense exercise. This means that individuals may be able to perform more repetitions, lift heavier weights, or sustain higher speeds before experiencing a decrease in performance due to muscle fatigue.
    • Potential for greater gains in lean muscle mass when combined with proper training: Research suggests that beta-alanine supplementation, when combined with a structured resistance training program, may lead to greater gains in lean muscle mass compared to training alone. This may be due to the increased training volume and intensity made possible by beta-alanine’s fatigue-delaying effects.
    • Endurance exercise: Beta-alanine supplementation can help individuals maintain exercise intensity throughout longer workouts by reducing the impact of fatigue on performance. This can be especially beneficial for endurance athletes participating in activities such as long-distance running, cycling, or swimming.
  • Cognitive Function: There is evidence to suggest that beta-alanine supplementation may have positive effects on cognitive function, including improvements in reaction time and mental clarity during periods of fatigue.
  • Support for Aging: Beta-alanine supplementation may be beneficial for older adults by helping to mitigate age-related declines in muscle mass and function, as well as could improve physical performance and quality of life.

Evidence suggests that β-alanine supplementation can increase resilience to post-traumatic stress disorder, mild traumatic brain injury and heat stress. The evidence regarding cognitive function is inconclusive but may be more of a function of the stressor that is applied during the assessment period. The potential benefits of β-alanine supplementation on soldier resiliency are interesting

The Effect of β-Alanine Supplementation on Performance, Cognitive Function and Resiliency in Soldiers [PMC9961614]

In this review focused on the effect of β-Alanine supplementation on performance and cognitive function in soldiers, researchers highlighted both cognitive and physical performance effects.

Muscle carnosine levels increase with beta-alanine supplementation can vary among individuals, influenced by factors such as initial carnosine levels, diet, exercise, and supplement duration and dosage. Both fast and slow-twitch muscle fibers see comparable increases, despite fast-twitch fibers having naturally higher carnosine. The relationship between beta-alanine intake and carnosine levels is linear, so higher doses lead to greater increases. However, levels can decrease over time as well. [PMC9961614]

Food Sources of Beta-Alanine

Food SourceAmount of Beta-Alanine per Serving (in grams)
Beef (3 oz)1.5
Pork (3 oz)1.0
Lamb (3 oz)1.3
Chicken Leg (3 oz)0.9
Chicken Breast (3 oz)0.8
Turkey (3 oz)1.0
Tuna (3 oz)0.6
Salmon (3 oz)0.4
Shrimp (3 oz)0.3
Cottage Cheese (1 cup)0.1
Soybeans (1 cup)0.4

Are Beta-Alanine Supplements Safe?

Beta-alanine is generally regarded as safe for most people when taken in appropriate doses. Numerous studies have evaluated the safety of beta-alanine supplementation, and no serious adverse effects have been reported at recommended doses. However, some individuals may experience minor side effects such as flushing or tingling sensations, known as paresthesia, especially when taking higher doses. Adhere to recommended dosage guidelines and avoid excessive intake, as very high doses may lead to potential adverse effects. Overall, when used responsibly and as directed, beta-alanine can be a safe and effective way to support athletic performance and overall fitness goals.

Medication Interactions with Beta-Alanine

  • Calcium carbonate (Antacids): Calcium carbonate may reduce the absorption of beta-alanine when taken concurrently, possibly decreasing its effectiveness. To avoid this interaction, it’s advisable to take beta-alanine supplements at a different time than calcium carbonate-containing antacids.
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or aspirin: NSAIDs may interfere with the mechanism of action of beta-alanine, might reduce its effectiveness in delaying muscle fatigue. It’s recommended to use caution when combining beta-alanine supplements with NSAIDs, as the interaction may impact exercise performance.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): MAOIs may interact with beta-alanine, although the specific effects of this interaction are not well understood. Individuals taking MAOIs should consult with a healthcare professional before using beta-alanine supplements to determine if any potential interactions exist.
  • Beta-blockers: Beta-blockers may theoretically interact with beta-alanine, as both substances can affect heart rate and blood pressure. Combining beta-blockers with beta-alanine supplements may result in unpredictable effects on cardiovascular function, so individuals using beta-blockers should exercise caution and seek medical advice before using beta-alanine.

Supplement Interactions with Beta-Alanine

  • Creatine: Creatine, a popular supplement known for its role in improving muscle strength and power, may interact with beta-alanine to enhance exercise performance. When taken together, creatine and beta-alanine have been shown to work synergistically, resulting in greater gains in strength and muscle mass compared to either supplement alone.
  • Caffeine: Caffeine, commonly found in coffee and pre-workout supplements, may complement the effects of beta-alanine on exercise performance. Research suggests that caffeine can enhance the benefits of beta-alanine by improving muscular endurance and reducing fatigue during workouts, making it a popular combination among athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
  • Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): BCAAs, including leucine, isoleucine, and valine, are essential for muscle repair and growth. Combining beta-alanine with BCAAs may support muscle recovery and protein synthesis, could enhance overall exercise performance and muscle development when used together.
  • Nitric oxide (NO) boosters: Supplements that increase nitric oxide levels, such as citrulline or arginine, may interact with beta-alanine to improve blood flow and nutrient delivery to muscles. This combination could lead to better exercise performance, muscle pump, and overall workout efficiency.
  • Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate (HMB): HMB is a metabolite of the amino acid leucine and is known for its role in muscle recovery and preservation. When combined with beta-alanine, HMB may further support muscle protein synthesis, recovery, and overall exercise performance, making it a beneficial addition to a supplementation regimen for individuals looking to optimize their workouts.

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Beta-Alanine Powder by NOW Sports

-Supports Muscular Endurance
-Helps Delay Muscle Fatigue*
-High Potency
-A Dietary Supplement
-Vegetarian Product

Beta-Alanine is a non-essential amino acid that is used by muscle cells to synthesize Carnosine. Carnosine is a dipeptide (Beta-Alanine plus Histidine) that functions as a buffer for the hydrogen ions (acid) produced during strenuous exercise, thus helping to maintain optimum muscular pH. NOW uses CarnoSyn®, a patented form of Beta-Alanine that has been clinically tested and shown to increase muscle Carnosine content, allowing muscles to work harder and longer during intense exercise. NOW® Beta-Alanine is backed by scientific research demonstrating that CarnoSyn® supplementation results in delayed muscle fatigue and rapid recovery time, thereby helping you attain your strength and endurance training goals.*

As a dietary supplement, take a 1/2 level teaspoon (2.0g) 3 to 4 times daily. Mix into 8 fl. oz. of water or your favorite beverage. For best results, allow at least 2 hours between doses. 

Amount Per 1/2 Level Teaspoon (2.0g) Serving: 
CarnoSyn® Beta-Alanine … 2.0g

Contains no: sugar, salt, starch, yeast, wheat, gluten, corn, soy, milk, egg, shellfish or preservatives. Vegetarian/Vegan Product.

Caution: Beta-Alanine may cause a harmless, temporary tingling sensation on the skin for some individuals. After a few weeks of supplementation with Beta-Alanine, this sensation normally lessens or subsides.

Beta Alanine-SR NSF by Thorne

Beta Alanine-SR is NSF Certified for Sport® and the PureTab® sustained-release delivery system minimizes tingling sensations and maximizes absorption.* Because acidity is a major contributor to muscle fatigue, the presence of carnosine helps maintain a normal pH in muscles by buffering the hydrogen ions created when muscles generate energy.* Thorne’s Beta Alanine-SR is required to create carnosine.* Supplementing with beta alanine will support muscle health, muscle work capacity, and perceived time-to-exhaustion in anaerobic exercise that lasts 1-4 minutes and aerobic exercise that lasts longer than four minutes.* Carnosine’s absorption is poor, and tends to be lower in females and in individuals who limit animal protein in their diet. Sustained-release beta-alanine supplementation, such as Thorne’s Beta Alanine-SR, has been shown to increase carnosine concentrations in the muscle.*

Beta-alanine has been shown to benefit athletic performance.* For example, studies show improvements in fatigue in cyclists, in 2,000-meter rowing time trials, in strength in college football players, and in sprint performance in endurance cyclists.* Increasing the level of carnosine also provides an antioxidant effect by limiting the accumulation of free radicals from oxidation of lipid membranes.* The PureTab® sustained-release delivery system minimizes the tingling sensations and poor absorption associated with consuming non-sustained release beta-alanine above 800 mg.

Because an athlete needs to know that his or her supplements are trustworthy and compliant, every batch of an NSF Certified for Sport® product is tested for compliance with label claims and to ensure the absence of more than 200 substances banned by many major athletic organizations, including stimulants, narcotics, steroids, diuretics, beta-2 agonists, and masking agents.

Take 2 tablets one to two times daily or as recommended by your health professional.

Serving Size: 2 Tablets

Amount Per Serving
SR CarnoSyn® Beta-Alanine
 … 1.6g

Food First!

Although this article discusses supplements in detail, don’t forget that we are absolutely committed to the “Food First” approach to nutrition. When it comes to your health, the totality of your eating habits far surpasses the impact of individual nutrients or any single supplement you consume. Even though this article doesn’t delve into the broader picture of your overall diet, it’s crucial to keep this element at the forefront of our minds. Your food needs to provide all the vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals to nourish your body systems down to the cellular level.

Food choices, rather than supplements, are the most critical factors for a healthy gut microbiome. These trillions of tiny inhabitants in your gut affect your brain waves; they orchestrate your immune system. They possess the power to create molecules that can switch genes on or off and are even capable of synthesizing neurotransmitters. Opting for organic foods and steering clear of plastic packaging (including those labeled BPA-free) is a smart move to limit toxin exposure. The sum of all these parts leads to a powerful conclusion: the ultimate key to your health lies in the quality and balance of the food you consume. Supplements are secondary.

To Sum It Up

Incorporating beta-alanine supplements into your fitness routine can offer a range of health benefits. From improving endurance and delaying muscle fatigue during high-intensity exercise to supporting lean muscle mass gains and enhancing overall exercise capacity, beta-alanine can be a valuable addition to your fitness regimen. Its ability to boost performance in activities like sprinting and weightlifting, along with its potential to reduce muscle soreness and support healthy aging, makes it a versatile supplement for individuals looking to optimize their workouts and achieve their fitness goals. Whether you’re an athlete striving for peak performance or someone simply aiming to improve your overall fitness level, beta-alanine supplements can help you take your training to the next level and unlock your full potential.

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