Effect, deficiency, dosage, side effects, overdose
Beta alanine is a non-essential amino acid and the only naturally occurring beta amino acid. It should not be confused with normal alanine because beta alanine is classified as a non-proteinogenic amino acid and there is no evidence that it is used to build proteins.
The best natural source of beta alanine are dipeptides that contain beta alanine (carnosine, anserine, and balenin). These dipeptides are found in protein-rich foods such as chicken, beef, pork, and fish.
We get most of the beta alanine from the dipeptide carnosine, as the other two dipetides are not nearly as common in our typical western diet.
However, these dipeptides are not the only way to ingest beta alanine, since our body can also produce it in the liver through the breakdown of pyrimidine nucleotides.
Of course, beta alanine can also be ingested through food supplements.
Most of the positive effects of beta alanine come from accelerating the synthesis of carnosine, an intramuscular dipeptide.
With high muscle exertion, the pH value in the muscles drop rapidly, which is mainly the result of an increase in hydrogen ions (H+). These arise when the body divides the high-energy connection ATP during training.
The splitting of ATP and the subsequent increase in H+ concentration occurs in all of our energy systems, but most often in an energy system called glycolysis, which also produces lactic acid. Lactic acid releases H+ ions, which further enlarge the H+ pool that fills your muscles due to the splitting of ATP.
If excess H+ is released and accumulates in large quantities as a result of training, the pH value in the muscles drops rapidly. The natural carnosine value of the body is overwhelmed by this amount, the energy and endurance decrease rapidly, you feel a burning sensation in the muscles, the muscle strength drops and the muscles finally fail. Carnosine can help.
Since the muscle cells are flooded with hydrogen ions, regardless of whether you feel a burning sensation or not, any additional buffering of these ions is the key to maintaining the performance of the muscles. Carnosine does just that and absorbs the H+ in a natural way, which means that you can always stay close to the optimal pH value and train harder and longer.
The problem, of course, is that we only have a limited amount of naturally stored carnosine in our muscles. With more stored carnosine, you can perform better and train longer.
Performance gains from beta alanine can usually be seen within just two weeks, although some people notice improvements after just one week.
However, the most significant results can generally be observed after 3 - 4 weeks of taking beta alanine.
Current research has shown that carnosine levels rise for a maximum of 12 weeks. Therefore, it is recommended that beta alanine is taken for at least three months in order to optimise your carnosine levels.
Research has shown that a dose of between 3.2 grams and 6.4 grams of beta alanine should be taken per day to increase carnosine levels so much that performance increases.
The latest research, using 4 - 5 grams of beta alanine per day, shows a comparable carnosine concentration and performance increase as compared to 6.4 grams per day.
Based on current study results, we recommend taking 4 grams of beta alanine per day and during the first month of intake, an optional two week loading phase of 6 grams per day.
Note: In order to benefit as much as possible from the performance-enhancing effects of beta alanine, it is crucial that the body has sufficient quantities of all vital substances important for the carnosine synthesis. For the formation of carnosine from beta alanine, the cofactor L-histidine as well as vitamin B6, niacin, folic acid and vitamin B12 are required.
Studies that examined continuous beta alanine use for up to 12 weeks showed a large number of biochemical, hematological, and hormonal markers. No negative changes were found.
Increased carnosine levels have shown in many human studies that the strength, endurance, and muscle mass increased. One study even showed that beta alanine could increase aerobic endurance and lower body fat.
Researchers have demonstrated this by performing muscle biopsies prior to the study and at different times during the study (taking a small sample of muscle tissue using a hollow needle).
These have confirmed that beta alanine effectively and significantly increases carnosine levels between 42 - 80%, depending on the dose and duration of the study.
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