Pre-workout supplements, creatine, CLA, and who knows what else are all the rage when it comes to pre-workout supplements to maximize training.
And while most blends contain some semblance of beta-alanine—all in different doses of course—most people have zero clue what it actually does; it’s just another ingredient a blend that gets you pumped.
So, for anyone that has no idea why beta-alanine needs to be in your training stack or is starting to get on board with it, let’s zero in on all thing’s beta-alanine.
But despite common conception, it’s not just for strength and hypertrophy workouts.
WHAT IS BETA-ALANINE?
Some of us may know about the non-essential amino acid alanine. Beta-alanine is the beta form of alanine, because the amino group is attached to the beta carbon instead of the usual alpha position of alanine, hence the name BETA-alanine.
We’ll get more into that later, but beta-alanine is the rate-limiting precursor to the synthesis of carnosine and supplementation of beta-alanine is consistently shown to increase muscle levels of carnosine.
A dose of just 4-6g per day can increase carnosine levels by up to 64% in just 4 weeks and 80% after 10 weeks . Imagine the effect on performance then?!
But in terms of what beta-alanine actually does, it helps to enhance performance and extend work time by reducing buildup of lactic acid. If you’ve ever had serious lactic acid building in your muscles during a workout before, you know what a pain in the ass it is to deal with and how detrimental to your workout it can be.
The whole point of taking beta-alanine is to increase muscle carnosine levels so that lactic acid doesn’t build up.
HOW DOES BETA-ALANINE WORK: THE LINK BETA-ALANINE AND CARNOSINE
I mentioned that beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid, and while most amino acids are shunted towards protein synthesis, beta-alanine is different.
It actually combines with another amino acid called histidine to produce carnosine, which is stored in skeletal muscle. Because the amount of beta-alanine is the limiting factor in the synthesis of carnosine, supplementing helps to boost muscular levels .
By now you’re probably wondering what all this talk about carnosine is and how it has anything to do with beta-alanine. And if that’s you, let’s help you understand how muscles work.
Normally, levels of histidine are high and beta-alanine are low in muscles, which limits the amount of beta-alanine your body can produce (it’s needed to make carnosine).
But by increasing the amount of substrate available to make carnosine, you can increase levels to meet those of histidine and produce a mass of carnosine.
Now, the role of carnosine during exercise is to prevent muscular fatigue and extend your ability to work. Time to get all science on you.
Here’s a step-by-step of how it works:
- Glucose is broken down to supply quick energy during high-intensity exercise
- The muscles break down glucose into lactic acid, which is converted to lactate + hydrogen ions (H+)
- As hydrogen ions start to build up from glucose breakdown, the pH of muscles drops and starts to become more acidic
- Higher muscle acidity prevents the breakdown of glucose and limits your muscles’ ability to contract, which means fatigue sets in
- Then comes along carnosine the buffer, which serves to buffer the acid and reduce levels during high-intensity exercise
It’s suggested that lowest muscle pH, and therefore maximum H+ accumulation, happens after about 4 minutes of high-intensity exercise 
The whole point of taking beta-alanine is to reduce acidity in the muscles to allow glucose to continue to be broken down to supply energy to fuel work. And since beta-alanine increases muscle carnosine, it helps to reduce acid and prevent fatigue (or at least delay it).
5X WORLD CROSSFIT CHAMPION MAT FRASER’S PRE-WORKOUT CHOICE FOR IMPROVED CARDIO AND ENDURANCE
In a recent interview with Joe Rogan and Mat Fraser—retired CrossFit star who has won 5 CrossFit Games championships—Fraser was asked what his favorite pre-workout supplement was and the answer would probably surprise most people. Not a pre-workout, not creatine, but beta-alanine.
Beta-alanine? Yup, that’s right.
According to Fraser, he uses “a sh*t load of beta-alanine” before every training session and it makes him feel like he has a third lung. It’s kind of like a WTF moment for most of us who have never used the stuff, but apparently it works.
Because beta-alanine plays a role in muscle endurance in high-intensity exercise, it’s marketed as a way to enhance sports performance and extend endurance capabilities.
So, what’s in it for high-intensity metabolic training sessions?
Aside from the skin tingling itchy feeling you get after taking a decent amount, actually a lot.
3 BENEFITS OF USING BETA-ALANINE FOR CARDIO AND HIIT TRAINING
WATCH THIS VIDEO BELOW
It’s typically been a muscle or strength-only supplement, but the benefits of beta-alanine are changing gears and extend well into other forms of training. Where HIIT and cardio are concerned, there couldn’t be a better supplement.
Beta-alanine is actually most effective during anaerobic exercises (intense and exhaustive exercise that causes lactic acid accumulation) like high-intensity interval training or sprints. And if you’re doing repeated bouts of intense exercise—as is the case with my programs—with short recovery periods, it’s going to come in handy.
HERE ARE THE 3 MAIN BENEFITS OF TAKING BETA-ALANINE ON HIGH-INTENSITY TRAINING BACKED BY RESEARCH
# 1 It Increases Time to Fatigue
This is the biggie with beta-alanine and it’s what everyone goes after it for. Whether you’re training for a competition or hitting one of my high-intensity metabolic workouts, beta-alanine is my go-to for preventing fatigue onset.
Basically, beta-alanine works to help you train harder for longer, without feeling that muscle-clenching, painstakingly terrible feeling of your muscles tensing up and tiring.
There’s ample research to suggest that beta-alanine supplementation improves exercise capacity in tasks lasting 60-240 second (1-4 minutes), but interestingly not in tasks lasting less than 60 seconds where acidosis is not likely the primary limiting factor [x].
Here’s the proof:
One study looked at the effects of beta-alanine supplementation versus a placebo on VO2 max, time to exhaustion, and lactate concentrations in physical education male students [x2]. Thirty-nine male physical education students were given 2g beta-alanine (5x400mg) or placebo (5x400mg dextrose) daily, and outcomes were measured with a continuous graded exercise test (GXT) on an electronically braked cycle ergometer. Results showed that supplementing beta-alanine significantly increased VO2 max and significantly decreased time to exhaustion and lactate concentrations.
Another study showed similar results. It investigated the effect of beta-alanine supplementation during a high-intensity interval training (HIIT) program on repeated sprint ability (RSA) performance using 6.4g/day of beta-alanine or the same amount of dextrose for 6 weeks [x3]. Results showed that using beta-Alanine during the high-intensity interval training program increased repeated sprint performance, which may be attributed to improving muscle carnosine content, which attenuates central fatigue
# 2 Great for Short-Duration Work
Working through muscle cramps is some pretty gnarly stuff. Some people can do it, but for most of us our ability to push on is severely comprised. Muscle acidosis is the number one killer of high-intensity training and if you want to avoid that, taking beta-alanine is key.
Because of the natural of high-intensity training—short duration, max effort—glucose is burned at a rapid pace because the muscles require large amounts of energy. More glucose being burned means more lactate being produced and thus more acidic muscles.
But if you can supplement with beta-alanine and put that risk out the window, you’re gold.
Piggybacking on the last benefits, there are several studies to show the benefit of beta-alanine for extending work capacity in short-duration exercises.
One study evaluated the effects of combining beta-alanine with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to measure its effects on endurance performance and aerobic metabolism in recreationally active college-aged men [x4]. Participants were given either 6 g/day for the first 21-days, followed by two times per day (3 g/day) for the subsequent 21 days or a placebo. Results showed significant improvements in VO2peak, VO2 time to exhaustion, and pre-training VO2peak after just three weeks of training.
But it’s not limited to just one study. Other consistently show that beta-alanine supplementation can elicit significant improvements in performance during multiple bouts of high-intensity exercise as well as single bouts of exercise lasting more than 60 seconds.
# 3 Maximize Muscle Endurance in People 40+
I can’t tell you the number of people that think hitting their person best is a thing of the past as they start to age. Yeah, physical performance and muscles mass start to decrease as we get older, but there are SO many things we can do to prevent that. The excuse of “it’s not as easy as it once was” hold some merit, but most often it’s a load of bull for people to give themselves as an out for working hard.
My point here is that because the ageing process does compromise some of our muscular endurance and strength, as well as decreases intramuscular carnosine levels, most people will experience a quicker rate of fatigue during exercise than they did 20 years ago. But beta-alanine can stop that (or at least delay it).
I KNOW. If you’re in your 50s or 60s you’re probably thinking “Funk, I’m way past my days of taking pre-workout supplements, man.” A beta-alanine one is different. No jitters, crashes, or whatever else happens from pre-workouts. Just clean energy than can help to reduce fatigue onset and extend your endurance training by boosting skeletal muscle carnosine and increasing your lactate threshold.
Listen to this.
This one study looked at the effects of 90 days of beta-alanine supplementation on the physical work capacity at the fatigue threshold (PWCFT) in elderly men and women aged 55-92 [x5]. Groups took either 800m beta-alanine 3 times per day or a placebo. Results showed significant increases in fatigue threshold from pre-supplementation to post, suggesting that beta-alanine supplementation can increase work capacity by delaying neuromuscular fatigue via improving intracellular pH control, thereby improving muscle endurance in older people.
The Best Beta-Alanine: Funk Roberts Beta Alanine Supplement
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Obviously, beta-alanine supplements different in potency and therefore the results you’re going to get, I don’t want you to have to sort through shelves or pages of supplements trying to find something that works for you.
Funk Beta-Alanine is a power-building supplement designed to build lean mass, increase muscular strength, endurance, and power output while delaying muscular fatigue to enable you to train harder for longer.
It’s potent high-quality beta-alanine with 3,400mg per serving, and you’ve got to know that it’s third-party tested and GMP compliant to ensure you’re only getting the purest and most effective product.
How To Use Beta Alanine
The supplementation strategy for beta-alanine is important to maximize its effects.
Research does suggest that you need a loading phase and dose of 4-6g daily for a minimum of 2 weeks which will increase muscle carnosine concentration from 20-30% (6) and after 4 weeks 40-60% increase. (7)
Additionally, if supplementing with a non-time release version, consuming a total daily dose of 6 g would be important for augmenting muscle carnosine .
Combining beta-alanine consumption with a meal during beta-alanine loading has also been shown to be effective for further augmenting muscle carnosine levels (8)
After the loading phase you can switch to using this before workouts.
 Trexler ET, Smith-Ryan AE, Stout JR, et al. International society of sports nutrition position stand: Beta-Alanine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12:30. Published 2015 Jul 15. doi:10.1186/s12970-015-0090-y
 W Derave, MS Ozdemir, RC Harris, 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;103(5):1736-1743. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00397.2007
 Hobson RM, Saunders B, Ball G, Harris RC, Sale C. Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino Acids. 2012;43(1):25-37. doi:10.1007/s00726-011-1200-z
[x] Hobson RM, Saunders B, Ball G, Harris RC, Sale C. Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino Acids. 2012;43(1):25-37. doi:10.1007/s00726-011-1200-z
[x2] Ghiasvand R, Askari G, Malekzadeh J, et al. Effects of Six Weeks of β-alanine Administration on VO(2) max, Time to Exhaustion and Lactate Concentrations in Physical Education Students. Int J Prev Med. 2012;3(8):559-563.
[x3] Milioni F, de Poli RAB, Saunders B, et al. Effect of β-alanine supplementation during high-intensity interval training on repeated sprint ability performance and neuromuscular fatigue. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2019;127(6):1599-1610. doi:10.1152/japplphysiol.00321.2019
[x4] Smith AE, Walter AA, Graef JL, et al. Effects of beta-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. Published 2009 Feb 11. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-6-5
[x5] Stout JR, Graves BS, Smith AE, et al. The effect of beta-alanine supplementation on neuromuscular fatigue in elderly (55-92 Years): a double-blind randomized study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2008;5:21. Published 2008 Nov 7. doi:10.1186/1550-2783-5-21