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Beta-Alanine is a beta amino acid that is backed by an ample amount of scientific research as an effective sports supplement. ß-Alanine has shown in multiple human clinical trials to increase performance by buffering lactic and other acid, increasing muscle Carnosine levels, and increasing muscle growth. Supplementing with ß-Alanine is characterized by a unique “tingling effect” when taken in potent doses usually over 10 mg/kg bodyweight, this effect is unique to the ingredient and is a completely normal sensation when using effective doses.

Chemistry

Beta-Alanine is the ß isomer of the non-essential amino acid L-Alanine. The ß or (Beta) indicates that the amino group specific to the amino acid Alanine is on the ß- Carbon or the second Carbon from the Carboxylate group. The IUPAC name for Beta-Alanine is 3-aminopropionic acid.

Beta-Alanine is the rate-limiting pre-cursor to Carnosine meaning that the amount of Carnosine produced by the body is limited by a lack of ß-Alanine. Supplementation with ß-Alanine has been shown to increase the concentration of Carnosine in the muscles because once it crosses the GI tract it bonds with L-Histidine (another amino acid) to synthesize ß-alanyl-L-histidine or Carnosine.

When ß-Alanine and L-Histidine are bound to create Carnosine it has a pKa of around 6.83 making it a very effective intramuscular buffer during exercise.

How Beta-Alanine Works 

Increasing Carnosine

Beta-Alanine combines with the amino acid L-Histidine to create a dipeptide known as Carnosine or ß-alanyl-L-histidine. Since L-Histidine is abundantly available relative to its need during Carnosine synthesis, supplementation with ß-Alanine alone has been shown in human clinical trials to increase muscle Carnosine concentration by 80.1%. [1]

Carnosine (ß-alanyl-L-histidine) is a pH buffer in muscle tissue, an antioxidant, and improves muscle contractions by increasing cellular sensitivity to Calcium. Multiple human studies have shown increases in bench press volume, cycle sprint performance, aerobic capacity, and muscle growth during supplementation with Beta-Alanine. This increase in performance and muscle growth can be attributed to the increased muscle Carnosine concentration caused by the ß-Alanine.

Buffering Acid

When exercising, your muscles build up acid, creating a burn and causing you to fatigue or reach “failure”. Fatigue is caused by a build of up lactic acid in the muscle and the high production and hydrolysis of ATP to fuel a muscle contraction (creating excess H+ Ions). These 2 processes cause the buffering systems to become overwhelmed causing the pH of the blood and muscle to fall and create a state of acidosis.

Beta-Alanine supplementation increases Carnosine concentration, which acts as a buffer and keeps the blood and muscle at optimal pH to continue muscle contractions past when fatigue would normally set in [3]. This enables you to push out more reps with heavier weights to cause maximum muscle tearing so that you can increase rock-hard muscle and strength [4]. A Clinical trial involving ß-Alanine supplementation in males performing resistance trainign showed a 22% increase in reps performed and a significant increase in anaerobic power (98.4 watts vs. 7.2 watts in the placebo). [2]

Conclusion

Beta-Alanine has been shown in all clinical trials to be well tolerated and safe with no harmful side effects reported. The tingling or paresthesia sensation associated with ß-Alanine supplementation is not harmful and is a common effect of supplementing with high doses of the product. Some people enjoy the sensation and some people are irritated by it. If you don’t enjoy this effect it can be mitigated by increasing water intake with the product or, by decreasing the dose and spreading it out over a longer period of time.

With the amount of empirical and scientific evidence to support ß-Alanine as a safe and effective amino acid supplement, it is important for any serious athlete to have in their nutrition arsenal. By adding ß-Alanine to supplement your exercise, training, or sport, you will improve your body’s ability to push through the stress of exercise and get the results that you want.

Cheers,

Evan Ward, BScHK, CPT
CEO & Founder, DYNAMIS

DYNAMIS AMINOpulse and FUEL xRM contain Beta-Alanine to help buffer lactic acid and improve exercise performance. Use the code DYNAMIS15 for 15% off of your order of AMINOpulse, FUEL xRM, or any other DYNAMIS supplement.  

Selected References

[1] Influence of Beta-Alanine Supplementation on Skeletal Muscle Carnosine Concentrations and High Intensity Cycling Capacity. (2007) C.A. Hill et al. Amino Acids. 32(2):225-33

[2] ß-Alanine and the Hormonal Response to Exercise (2008) J. Hoffman, N.A. Ratamess et al. International Journal of Sports Medicine 29:952-58

[3] Short-Duration ß-Alanine Supplementation Increase Trainign Volume and Reduces Subjective Feelings of Fatigue in College Football Players (2008) J.A. Hoffman, N.A. Ratamess et al. Nutrition Research 28(1):31-5

[4] Effects of ß-Alanine Supplementation on High Intensity Interval Training, Endurance Performance, and Body Composition in Men; a Double-Blind Trial (2009) A.E. Smith, A.A. Walter et al. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. Feb 11: 6:5

April 20, 2015 by Evan Ward