Beta-Alanine, aka 3-aminopropanoic acid, is a naturally occurring beta amino acid.
Beta-Alanine is the rate-limiting precursor of carnosine (meaning carnosine levels are limited by the amount of available beta-alanine). Beta-alanine’s ability to increase intramuscular carnosine concentrations is where it derives its ergogenic properties. After 10 weeks of supplementing with beta-alanine, the increase in intramuscular carnosine was an average of 80.1%. (1)
A lot of talk about carnosine, and we still haven’t discussed what it does. Carnosine is a dipeptide, consisting of the amino acids beta-alanine and histidine.
Carnosine has a plethora of benefits.
- Carnosine can oppose glycation (2,3) – meaning it prevents the formation of AGEs (Advanced Glycation end products. Why is this important? While some AGEs are benign, others are implicated in many age-related chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer, neuropathy, and deafness.
- Carnosine acts as an antioxidant – carnosine has been proven to scavenge reactive oxygen species (ROS)
- Chelation agent.
- Because of its antiglycation, antioxidant, and chelation properties, carnosine supplements have been proposed as a general anti-aging therapy.
- Has the ability to stabilize muscular pH by soaking up fatigue causing hydrogen ions. This allows you to train for longer durations without getting tired.
As you can see, it is definitely worth it to supplement with beta-alanine, even if your main reason for taking it isn’t muscle gain.
Hill CA, Harris RC, Kim HJ, Harris BD, Sale C, Boobis LH, Kim CK, Wise JA. (2007). "Influence of beta-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity". Amino Acids 32 (2): 225–33. DOI:10.1007/s00726-006-0364-4.PMID 16868650.
Reddy VP, Garrett MR, Perry G, Smith MA (May 2005). "Carnosine: a versatile antioxidant and antiglycating agent". Science of Aging Knowledge Environment2005 (18): pe12.DOI:10.1126/sageke.2005.18.pe12. PMID 15872311.
Rashid I, van Reyk DM, Davies MJ (March 2007). "Carnosine and its constituents inhibit glycation of low-density lipoproteins that promotes foam cell formation in vitro". FEBS Letters 581 (5): 1067–70.DOI:10.1016/j.febslet.2007.01.082. PMID 17316626