The ABCs of Beta-Alanine


Pop quiz: Why would a nonessential amino acid that’s not thought to be used as a building block for muscle end up among the most important supplements for supporting muscle growth? Here’s the crib sheet:

What is beta-alanine? It’s a unique amino acid, the only beta amino that occurs naturally. In addition to being a nonessential amino (meaning the body manufactures it on its own), beta-alanine is taken into the body through foods such as meat, poultry and fish. Generally, it enters the body as carnosine, which is constructed of one beta-alanine amino and one histidine amino.

What does it do? Beta-alanine helps drive the processes that assemble other aminos into muscle tissue. When plenty of beta-alanine is available, the body is better able to support muscle growth through these actions:

1) Increased strength. Studies show that muscles with more carnosine in them also have increased strength.
2) Increased endurance for cardio and weight training. Beta-alanine (or carnosine) helps you perform intense exercise for longer periods. This means you’ll be able to perform more reps with weights, stimulating more muscle growth.
3) Increased muscle mass. Increased strength and endurance ultimately yield better muscle growth.

How should I take it? In addition to consuming plenty of lean meats and fish, take 1 to 2 grams of beta-alanine or carnosine right before and after workouts. In addition, add up to 5 grams of creatine to your preworkout and postworkout supplement regimen to further boost beta-alanine’s benefits.