What is Beta-Alanine? A Comprehensive Beginner’s Guide

Nikhil Goswami

As an athlete or workout enthusiast, you must have heard of beta-alanine. But, what is beta-alanine exactly? Beta-alanine is a naturally occurring non-essential amino acid in the body. This amino acid aids in the production of carnosine—a compound that plays a significant role in muscle building during high-intensity exercise. It’s important to understand what beta-alanine is if you are an athlete who performs such exercises.

Unlike most amino acids your body produces, it doesn’t use beta-alanine to synthesize proteins. Beta-alanine combines with another compound (histidine) to produce carnosine, which your body stores in the skeletal muscles. This compound improves athletic performance by reducing lactic acid accumulation(the cause of muscle fatigue). Unfortunately, in normal conditions, your muscles have high histidine levels and low β-alanine. This imbalance limits the production of carnosine.

Some manufacturers make beta-alanine supplements that you can use to boost these effects. We have compiled this comprehensive guide to give you the relevant information if you want to supplement beta-alanine. This guide gives you a detailed explanation of how beta-alanine works, its benefits, and possible side effects. Do you want to learn more? Let’s get to it.

How Beta-Alanine Works

This non-essential amino acid is the rate-limiting step in muscle carnosine synthesis that increases this compound’s content in the skeletal. It does so by binding with histidine in the brain and muscles. Supplementing beta-alanine enhances carnosine levels by up to 80%, as various evidence suggests.

Below is a breakdown of how carnosine works during resistance training:

Breakdown of glucose: Your body first converts glucose into energy. This process produces the fuel for the muscles during high-intensity exercise.

Lactate production: As you continue working out, your body breaks down glucose into lactic acid and further into lactate. The lactate produced will then break down to form hydrogen ions.

Increase in muscular acidic levels: The hydrogen ions then lower your muscular pH levels through acidosis. Your muscles will become acidic as lactate continues breaking down.

The onset of fatigue: You will then start to feel muscle fatigue once the acid level exceeds the normal one. This is because the acidity blocks further glucose breakdown and inhibits muscle contractions.

Carnosine production: Carnonisne is made up of histidine and beta-alanine. It will then set in to restore the pH level through homeostasis. This protein compound will enhance intracellular buffering, which delays neuromuscular fatigue and hence endurance during high-intensity exercise. 


Beta-alanine is effective in boosting muscle endurance by increasing the level of carnosine. This process takes place in your muscles during high-intensity workouts. You should still take beta-alanine supplements to boost it despite ready availability in your body. 

Effects of Beta-alanine Supplementation

According to J Int Soc Sports, β alanine supplementation helps athletic performance and body composition. Here is the breakdown of the benefits.

Athletic Performance

The notable effects of beta-alanine are improved athletic performance through reduced fatigue and increased endurance.

Improves Endurance

Studies have reported that muscle carnosine is a physiological buffer and influences enzyme regulation. During high-intensity exercise, hydrogen ions start to accumulate in your skeletal muscles. This leads to a drop in pH level, affecting athletic performance.

The more you rely on glycolysis to provide energy, the greater the lactic acid production. But beta-alanine helps in increasing carnosine levels which regulates acidity. Supplementation helps in increasing muscle carnosine concentrations hence reducing fatigue.

It Helps Shorter-duration Workout Routines

Beta-alanine can also help you during high-intensity interval training. However, acidosis can limit you from achieving your goal during this training. Beta-alanine supplementation increases help the production of carnosine. And as you have learned, carnosine acts as a buffer against the lactic acid produced during such exercise.

Body Composition

Beta-alanine supplementation can help you in gaining lean muscle mass. It does this by increasing exercise capacity. For instance, in a study, a group of men took 3.2 grams of beta-alanine supplement and creatine daily; others only took 10.5 grams of creatine. Another separate group took 10.5 grams of sugar placebo. This study ran for 10 weeks.

Results showed that the group that took beta-alanine and creatine supplements had a tremendous decrease in fat mass and significant improvement in muscle mass compared to the placebo group. It is safe to say that you can use beta-alanine supplementation to increase your lean muscle mass and enhance muscle growth.


Beta-alanine supplementation has proven to work through various studies. It will be best to use it if you are an athlete who takes high-intensity exercises. You should expect to see the results such as increased endurance right after you start cycling beta-alanine. 

Other Health Benefits of Beta-Alanine


A study suggests that beta-alanine supplementation is a surefire way of healthy aging. For starters, it improves training volume in older adults, reducing the chances of conditions such as osteoarthritis and microcrystal disorders. The exercise also inhibits the decline of brain function that results from post-endurance fatigue. In addition, beta-alanine has antioxidant, anti-aging, and immune-boosting properties.

It Possibly Helps in Reducing Cancer

According to animal studies, beta-alanine supplementation results in higher carnosine levels in body tissue, which can lower inflammation. This demonstrates how beta-alanine supplementation may be able to combat cancer cells.

Enhances Vascular Performance

According to some research findings, this supplement may increase physical working endurance at the heart threshold. However, note that it doesn’t affect vascularity directly. It’s best to keep that in mind and avoid using it as a treatment for vascular- complications.

Helps With Anxiety and Other Neurological Impairment

Beta-alanine supplementation may help with symptoms of anxiety or depression frequently linked to neurological disorders. However, it’s best to consult your doctor first if you want to use the supplement and have the conditions mentioned above.



Beta-alanine can help your body by delaying muscle fatigue and gaining muscle mass. Some of the effects include healthy aging, enhanced vascular performance, and anti-inflammation. However, note that some of these effects of beta-alanine are still under study. Therefore, it will be best to consult a medical practitioner before using the substance.

Top Food Sources of Beta-Alanine

Carnosine is a dipeptide and is found in animal tissues. The average amount you can take from food range from 50mg to 250mg, depending on your protein intake. Nevertheless, it’s still essential to take such foods to boost muscle carnosine content. Those foods have beta-alanine and varying concentrations of carnosine, and they are as follows:


Beef is one of the best foods to include in the diet if you want to improve your athletic performance. This is because it contains 0.5 to 1 gram of beta-alanine per 40-pound cut. The same amount of beef also contains 1.6 to 2.8 pounds of carnosine. However, this applies to lean cuts only. Such cuts are also rich in zinc, B vitamins, selenium, and proteins. In addition, lean meat is low in total fat and cholesterol, which makes it healthy even in large consumption.

Chicken and Turkey

Chicken is another food that you must include in your diet to boost your exercise capacity. A 40-pound cut of chicken contains 0.2 to 0.5 grams of beta-alanine and 1 to 2 grams of carnosine. This amount is concentrated on the chicken breast. Besides those compounds, chicken contains pantothenic acid, niacin, and other essential B vitamins. You can eat meat or take chicken broth to get the nutrients, beta-alanine, and carnosine.

You can also go for turkey if you want an alternative to chicken. They contain the same amount of beta-alanine and carnosine per serving. Turkey meat also contains vitamin B3, which helps in converting food into energy. In addition, it also helps in repairing DNA and creating fats.

Fish and Pork

Whitefish and other sea foods are also good sources of carnosine and beta-alanine. Experts estimate 40 pounds of fish to contain around 0.5 grams of beta-alanine and 1 gram of carnosine. These white fish can be cod, flounder, Alaskan pollock, haddock, and sole. Note that fish is rich in omega-3 also, which your body needs to regulate abnormal heart rhythm during high-intensity exercise

Pork is also essential when it comes to improving athletic performance. This is because it contains a substantial amount of beta-alanine and can help with weight management and weight loss. In a study to prove that pork can help gain lean mass, overweight people were put on a 2 pounds weekly diet. The study ran for six months, showing a significant reduction in weight, percent body fat, and BMI. 


You can also get beta-alanine and carnosine in some types of foods, namely protein-laden ones. These types of foods contain varying amounts of beta-alanine and carnosine but are effective if you consume them as you cycle. In addition, these foods contain other essential nutrients that go a long way in ensuring that you are healthy.  But you should avoid some like meat that contains fats and cholesterol. 

Beta-alanine Doses

Proper dosing is essential for beta-alanine supplementation. You will start by loading a minimum of 90 grams for 28 days. The total should amount to 179 grams over that period. Note that the dosing regimens vary from 3.2 to 6 grams daily. And as much as you should take the maximum amount, you shouldn’t take it all at once. Instead, you should go with taking the beta-alanine doses.

You can staker via a pre or post-workout, standalone product, or combination of standalone products. Whichever the case, you are supposed to experience the benefits of beta-alanine during the loading period. Evidence from the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests supplementing this amino acid for two to four weeks should improve exercise capacity.

After you are through with the loading phase, you should take beta-alanine daily so that you reduce muscle fatigue, gain lean mass, and have muscle growth. You should maintain the dosage even on your rest days for better results.


Taking beta-alanine supplements requires the right doses. There are various ways you can go about supplementation. You can take the supplement as pills or powder. The form you go for will depend on your goal and endurance. 

Possible Side Effects of Beta-alanine Supplementation

Beta-alanine improves your endurance during resistance training. However, it comes with some side effects. The common ones include:


Athletes on beta-alanine supplementation have reported tingling effects after taking it. This side effect isn’t life-threatening since the feeling subsides after 30 minutes. It shouldn’t raise concern unless it lasts longer than expected.


Some athletes and enthusiasts have reported feeling nausea after supplementing beta-alanine. Although yet to be officially studied, it’s likely due to irritation of the gastric lining. You can also experience the side effects if you take beta-alanine supplements on an empty stomach.


Although not prevalent, beta-alanine components can cause acne. In a study, healthy soldiers who took beta-alanine supplements developed acne despite high-intensity exercise. This effect can be a result of protein components in your staking.


Many users who are supplementing beta-alanine experience insomnia. This effect is possible to the stimulants in the supplement’s regimen. You should therefore expect it if you are cycling beta-alanine supplements.


There are side effects, such as tingling, that you might experience when you take beta-alanine. Some, like insomnia or acne, aren’t common but possible. Fortunately, none of the side effects of beta-alanine can harm you. In many cases, the effects wear off after a while. 

How to Prevent or Reduce the side effects

There are various ways to prevent or reduce the side effects of beta-alanine. They include:

Moderating Beta-alanine Doses

It will be best to reduce your doses if you experience excessive tingling. You can inquire in different forums to find out which beta-alanine doses work best for someone with the same physicality. You can then increase it later on as your body builds endurance.

Taking Beta-alanine Supplement With a Meal

Taking beta-alanine with a meal is the best way to avoid feeling nausea. Alternatively, you can take it with a shake if a meal doesn’t work. Whichever the case, avoid taking beta-alanine without eating first.

Consulting a Physician

You can also consult a doctor to help you with the side effects. Sometimes, the side effects can result from the medicine you are taking. Note that this consultation is essential if you have tried other means, but the side effects persist.


Lastly, it will help to combine beta-alanine with other sports supplements if it affects you when taking it as a standalone. This will help you with muscle fatigue and endurance while controlling the amount of beta-alanine you consume.


There are ways in which you can prevent or reduce the side effects of beta-alanine. Some of them are basically reducing the dosage and taking the supplement after or when eating. However, you should visit a doctor if the conditions persist. 

Common Misconceptions About Beta-alanine Supplementation

Some users peddle misleading information, which can confuse beta-alanine supplementation. Some of those misconceptions include.

You Should Take Beta-alanine With Histidine

This information is false because histidine is highly concentrated in the muscles. It’s beta-alanine that drives carnosine synthesis that is in low quantity. Therefore, there is no need to supplement histidine. However, note that the elderly and vegetarians don’t get enough histidine in the diet. But still, they should bump up protein intake instead.

Everyone Should Take Beta-alanine

Not everyone should take beta-alanine supplementation. If you are working out to be fit, taking beta-alanine is unnecessary. Furthermore, you increase your chances of side effects if you unnecessarily take beta-alanine. Therefore, unless you are working on improving your endurance or athletic performance, it will be best to continue taking proteins in your meals.

If It Doesn’t Tingle, It Isn’t orking

You don’t have to experience the tingling effect to ascertain that beta-alanine is working. Instead, you should check your body composition and performance measures. Anyone telling you to increase your beta-alanine doses to experience the tingling is misleading.


The internet is awash with misleading information about beta-alanine supplementation. It will help if you carefully choose what to take in and what to ignore. If you are uncertain about anything regarding beta-alanine, it will be best if you ask the manufacturer. 

Combining Beta Alanine With Other Sports Supplements

Many bodybuilders and athletes attest to the positive outcomes of combining beta-alanine with other supplements. In mention, some of those outcomes include improved performance and body composition. Here are the supplements you can combine beta-alanine with.

Sodium bicarbonate

This is arguably the winning combination for athletes. It is best for high-intensity cycling capacity. In a European Journal of Applied Physiology study, the researchers tested the results of combination and standalone supplements of beta-alanine and baking soda. The beta-alanine cycle was six weeks, dosing 4.8 grams daily and increasing it to 6.4 grams daily for the last two weeks.

On the other hand, the baking soda was 300 milligrams per kilogram of 90kgs body weight. The volunteers took this amount before a workout. In the result, beta-alanine showed improved time-to-exhaustion but not sodium bicarbonate. However, there was a notable difference when the same subjects used a combination of baking soda and beta-alanine. The result showed improvement in endurance and athletic performance.


Creatine is another commonly used sports supplement you can combine with beta-alanine supplementation. Many athletes choose to combine these supplements as they give greater gains. To combine it, you will take 4 to 6 grams of beta-alanine and mix it with 6 to 10 grams of creatine. You will then divide it into three to four doses to help you keep maintaining the dose for the best effects.

Some expected effects include lean body composition, increased muscle mass, and improved recovery rate. In addition, you will enhance your endurance during high-intensity exercise, have mental clarity, and reduce muscle fatigue. However, note that your stacking should be as per your goal. Furthermore, you should space your intake to ensure that two of your beta-alanine supplementations occur pre-workout and post-workout.


Research has proven that combining beta-alanine with other sports supplements is more effective. The two most common ones used in this combination are sodium bicarbonate and creatine. The effects are always noticeable within a short time. However, it will be best if you use the right doses. 

FAQs About Beta-Alanine

1.   Is beta-alanine legal?

Yes, beta-alanine supplements are legal, and you can use them if you actively compete in sports. The World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) categorizes substances such as amino acids and proteins as legal and not banned for competition. It is safe to say that no sports body can ban you from using beta-alanine supplements to enhance your endurance during workouts or sports.

2.   What are the ingredients of the beta-alanine supplement?

Beta-alanine supplements comprise 1.6 grams of amino acid, corn starch, phosphate, and cellulose. Other ingredients include dicalcium, hydroxypropyl, rice, and hypromellose. Note that these are the standard ingredients. You should, however, check because some manufacturers sell generic supplements. Such beta-alanine supplements can cause allergic reactions if they contain milk products.

3.   Where can you buy beta-alanine?

You can buy beta-alanine supplements from any reputable vendor online or in stores. However, you must be cautious. Only buy brands approved by (Food and Drugs Administration) FDA. The FDA regulates these dietary supplements but treats them as food and medicine. This means that the manufacturers don’t have to prove safety. It will be best to check the reviews to ascertain the safety before buying t supplements.

4.   Who can’t take beta-alanine supplements?

You shouldn’t take beta-alanine supplements if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because studies are yet to find out the extent to which it might affect their baby. In addition, you shouldn’t take these supplements if you have a pre-existing medical condition or are under medication. Evidence suggests that beta-alanine reacts with some heart medication. In addition, it can also react with erectile dysfunction drugs hence the need to seek advice from a qualified medical practitioner first.

5.   What’s the best time to take beta-alanine?

It’s best to take beta-alanine 30-45 minutes before high-intensity exercise. This duration allows the amino acid supplement to enter your system and be effective. However, you shouldn’t take it before bed since it can cause insomnia. This is because its stimulant properties will affect your sleep.

6.   What’s the best way to take beta-alanine supplements

You can take beta-alanine as pills or powder. However, note that your choice will depend on ease of ingestion or tolerance to handling the tingling effect. Some athletes have reported reacting differently to specific forms of beta-alanine. Therefore, trying pills or powder to ascertain how you react to it will be best.

7.   How long does it take for beta-alanine to be effective?

Your skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations rise as soon as you take beta-alanine supplements. But the notable increase in strength and power can start at four weeks. Meanwhile, your muscular endurance will be high, affecting exercise performance. However, don’t take large doses in an attempt to expedite the process.

8.   Should you take beta-alanine every day?

Experts recommend that you take beta-alanine supplements daily, including your rest days. This routine is important because you aren’t supplementing this amino acid for the immediate effect. Instead, you are in it to saturate your muscles to improve exercise performance in the long run.

9.   Which supplement is better between beta-alanine and creatine?

Beta-alanine is better than creatine. Creatine helps with short and intense bursts of power during high-intensity exercise; the effects are short-lived. In comparison, beta-alanine stops the accumulation of lactic acid in your muscles when on longer and more endurance workout routines.

10.       Can beta-alanine increase your human growth hormone?

Sports supplements like beta-alanine can increase human growth hormone (HGH).  Evidence suggests that taking 4.8 grams of β supplement pre-workout boosts HGH levels and double peak power. However, not that you must be healthy beforehand to realize these effects.

11.       Can β alanine supplementation make you sick?

According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand, orally supplied beta-alanine is safe and can’t make you sick. You, however, need to take the recommended dosage. Excessive accumulation leads to hyper-beta-alaninemia (a rare metabolic condition). The condition is characterized by lethargy, seizures, or sleep disorder. You might also experience respiratory distress. It will be best to seek immediate medical attention if you notice any of these symptoms.


Beta-alanine supplementation is ever-changing with new research findings. The questions in this section should help you as you start supplementing beta-alanine. It will be best if you go through the answers to learn more. But if you have further questions, it will be best to contact the manufacturers. 

Conclusion: What Should You Know About Beta-Alanine?

Beta-alanine supplementation is essential if you are an athlete or a high-intensity workout enthusiast. It helps increase muscle carnosine levels, preventing muscle fatigue caused by acidosis. However, to benefit from it, you need to take the right beta-alanine doses and the ones that contain tested and branded ingredients.

This is a detailed answer to what beta-alanine is. It will be best to use the information you have read in it to cycle beta-alanine safely. In addition, you should ensure that you buy approved beta-alanine supplements. And, should your error in your dose and experience severe side effects, ensure that you seek immediate medical attention. 



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