Last Updated: September 14, 2023

Beta-alanine is a building block of carnosine, a molecule that helps buffer acid in muscles. Beta-alanine supplementation improves performance during high-intensity exercise lasting from 1 to 10 minutes. Carnosine also has antioxidant effects and may be beneficial for aging and neurological conditions.

Beta-Alanine is most often used for

What is beta-alanine?

Beta-alanine is a nonproteinogenic amino acid (it is not incorporated into proteins during translation). It is synthesized in the liver and can be ingested in the diet through animal-based foods like beef and chicken. Once ingested, beta-alanine combines with histidine within skeletal muscle and other organs to form carnosine — the role of which is to maintain the acid-base balance in skeletal muscles, the brain, and the heart. Beta-alanine is the limiting factor in muscle carnosine synthesis.

What are beta-alanine’s main benefits?

Beta-alanine improves high-intensity exercise performance in events lasting 1–10 minutes.[7] Examples of exercise that may be enhanced by beta-alanine supplementation include 400–1500 meter running and 100–400 meter swimming.

Since beta-alanine is the limiting factor for carnosine synthesis, supplementing with beta-alanine is effective at increasing levels of carnosine in the body. Because of its role as an antioxidant, a chelator of toxic metals, and an antiglycation agent,[8] carnosine may benefit conditions such as Parkinson’s disease[9] and Alzheimer’s disease.[10] Beta-alanine and carnosine also reduce blood glucose, HbA1c, and markers of insulin resistance in individuals with diabetes or overweight/obesity.[11]

While speculative, beta-alanine/carnosine may also have anti-aging effects, as carnosine depletion appears to be associated with aging.[12][13]

What are beta-alanine’s main drawbacks?

Large doses of beta-alanine may cause a tingling feeling called paresthesia.[14] This most often occurs on the face, abdomen, chest, and extremities. It is a harmless side effect, but some people find the sensation uncomfortable. Paresthesia can be avoided by taking a smaller dose of beta-alanine (0.8–1.6 grams), using an extended-release formulation, or taking doses at least 3 hours apart.

How does beta-alanine work?

Beta-alanine works by elevating levels of carnosine in the body.

When beta-alanine is ingested, it combines with another amino acid called L-histidine, forming carnosine. Carnosine acts as an intracellular proton buffer — it protects against drops in pH (increases in acidity). Carnosine is stored in cells (i.e., brain and skeletal muscle tissue), and in response to increasing levels of acidosis, such as during intense exercise, carnosine buffers intracellular acidity by binding to hydrogen ions (H+), allowing for a longer duration of exercise at a higher intensity.

What else is Beta-Alanine known as?
Note that Beta-Alanine is also known as:
  • b-alanine
  • β-alanine
  • carnosine precursor
Beta-Alanine should not be confused with:
  • L-alanine
  • L-carnitine
Dosage information

Studies have found a range of 3.2–6.4 grams per day of beta-alanine to be effective for enhancing exercise performance.[1] To optimize carnosine stores, a chronic loading dose of 4–6 grams per day of beta-alanine divided into doses of 2 grams or less for a minimum of 2 weeks is suggested — this results in a 20%–30% increase in muscle carnosine stores, while a 40%–60% increase is observed after 4 weeks.[2] A larger dose of 6 grams per day divided into 4 equal doses (1.5 grams each) is more advantageous.

To avoid paresthesia, a dose of 0.8–1.6 grams of beta-alanine every 3–4 hours is recommended. There are also sustained-release formulations available that permit the use of greater doses without the risk of paresthesia.[3][4] Although beta-alanine is commonly included in preworkout supplements, the timing of ingestion does not influence its effectiveness.

Combining beta-alanine supplementation with creatine may enhance its effectiveness.[5] Furthermore, carnosine levels may increase to a greater extent when beta-alanine is co-ingested with a meal containing carbohydrates and protein[6] or when taken with caffeine,[1] though there isn’t much research in support of these effects.

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Written By

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  1. ^Pedro Perim, Felipe Miguel Marticorena, Felipe Ribeiro, Gabriel Barreto, Nathan Gobbi, Chad Kerksick, Eimear Dolan, Bryan SaundersCan the Skeletal Muscle Carnosine Response to Beta-Alanine Supplementation Be Optimized?Front Nutr.(2019 Aug 27)
  2. ^Trexler ET, Smith-Ryan AE, Stout JR, Hoffman JR, Wilborn CD, Sale C, Kreider RB, Jäger R, Earnest CP, Bannock L, Campbell B, Kalman D, Ziegenfuss TN, Antonio JInternational society of sports nutrition position stand: Beta-AlanineJ Int Soc Sports Nutr.(2015 Jul 15)
  3. ^Alyssa N Varanoske, Jay R Hoffman, David D Church, Nicholas A Coker, Kayla M Baker, Sarah J Dodd, Roger C Harris, Leonardo P Oliveira, Virgil L Dawson, Ran Wang, David H Fukuda, Jeffrey R StoutComparison of sustained-release and rapid-release β-alanine formulations on changes in skeletal muscle carnosine and histidine content and isometric performance following a muscle-damaging protocolAmino Acids.(2019 Jan)
  4. ^David D Church, Jay R Hoffman, Alyssa N Varanoske, Ran Wang, Kayla M Baker, Michael B La Monica, Kyle S Beyer, Sarah J Dodd, Leonardo P Oliveira, Roger C Harris, David H Fukuda, Jeffrey R StoutComparison of Two β-Alanine Dosing Protocols on Muscle Carnosine ElevationsJ Am Coll Nutr.(Nov-Dec 2017)
  5. ^Zoeller RF, Stout JR, O'kroy JA, Torok DJ, Mielke MEffects of 28 days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on aerobic power, ventilatory and lactate thresholds, and time to exhaustionAmino Acids.(2007 Sep)
  6. ^Stegen S, Blancquaert L, Everaert I, Bex T, Taes Y, Calders P, Achten E, Derave WMeal and beta-alanine coingestion enhances muscle carnosine loading.Med Sci Sports Exerc.(2013-Aug)
  7. ^Saunders B, Elliott-Sale K, Artioli GG, Swinton PA, Dolan E, Roschel H, Sale C, Gualano Bβ-alanine supplementation to improve exercise capacity and performance: a systematic review and meta-analysisBr J Sports Med.(2017 Apr)
  8. ^Alexander A Boldyrev, Giancarlo Aldini, Wim DeravePhysiology and pathophysiology of carnosinePhysiol Rev.(2013 Oct)
  9. ^Boldyrev A, Fedorova T, Stepanova M, Dobrotvorskaya I, Kozlova E, Boldanova N, Bagyeva G, Ivanova-Smolenskaya I, Illarioshkin SCarnosine corrected increases efficiency of DOPA therapy of Parkinson's disease: a pilot study.Rejuvenation Res.(2008-Aug)
  10. ^Hipkiss ARCould carnosine or related structures suppress Alzheimer's disease?J Alzheimers Dis.(2007-May)
  11. ^Joseph J Matthews, Eimear Dolan, Paul A Swinton, Lívia Santos, Guilherme G Artioli, Mark D Turner, Kirsty J Elliott-Sale, Craig SaleEffect of Carnosine or β-Alanine Supplementation on Markers of Glycemic Control and Insulin Resistance in Humans and Animals: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysisAdv Nutr.(2021 Jul 31)
  12. ^Derave W, Jones G, Hespel P, Harris RCCreatine supplementation augments skeletal muscle carnosine content in senescence-accelerated mice (SAMP8).Rejuvenation Res.(2008-Jun)
  13. ^S Gallant, M Semyonova, M YunevaCarnosine as a potential anti-senescence drugBiochemistry (Mosc).(2000 Jul)
  14. ^Eimear Dolan, Paul A Swinton, Vitor de Salles Painelli, Benedict Stephens Hemingway, Bruna Mazzolani, Fabiana Infante Smaira, Bryan Saunders, Guilherme G Artioli, Bruno GualanoA Systematic Risk Assessment and Meta-Analysis on the Use of Oral β-Alanine SupplementationAdv Nutr.(2019 May 1)
  15. ^Yeum KJ, Orioli M, Regazzoni L, Carini M, Rasmussen H, Russell RM, Aldini GProfiling histidine dipeptides in plasma and urine after ingesting beef, chicken or chicken broth in humans.Amino Acids.(2010-Mar)
  16. ^Gil-Agustí M, Esteve-Romero J, Carda-Broch SAnserine and carnosine determination in meat samples by pure micellar liquid chromatography.J Chromatogr A.(2008-May-02)
  17. ^Abe H, Dobson GP, Hoeger U, Parkhouse WSRole of histidine-related compounds to intracellular buffering in fish skeletal muscle.Am J Physiol.(1985-Oct)
  18. ^Everaert I, Mooyaart A, Baguet A, Zutinic A, Baelde H, Achten E, Taes Y, De Heer E, Derave WVegetarianism, female gender and increasing age, but not CNDP1 genotype, are associated with reduced muscle carnosine levels in humansAmino Acids.(2011 Apr)
  19. ^Marina Yazigi Solis, Simon Cooper, Ruth M Hobson, Guilherme G Artioli, Maria C Otaduy, Hamilton Roschel, Jacques Robertson, Daniel Martin, Vitor S Painelli, Roger C Harris, Bruno Gualano, Craig SaleEffects of beta-alanine supplementation on brain homocarnosine/carnosine signal and cognitive function: an exploratory studyPLoS One.(2015 Apr 14)
  20. ^Blancquaert L, Baguet A, Bex T, Volkaert A, Everaert I, Delanghe J, Petrovic M, Vervaet C, De Henauw S, Constantin-Teodosiu D, Greenhaff P, Derave WChanging to a vegetarian diet reduces the body creatine pool in omnivorous women, but appears not to affect carnitine and carnosine homeostasis: a randomised trial.Br J Nutr.(2018-Apr)
Examine Database References
  1. Muscular Endurance - Zoeller RF, Stout JR, O'kroy JA, Torok DJ, Mielke MEffects of 28 days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on aerobic power, ventilatory and lactate thresholds, and time to exhaustionAmino Acids.(2007 Sep)
  2. Muscular Endurance - Hobson RM, Saunders B, Ball G, Harris RC, Sale CEffects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysisAmino Acids.(2012 Jul)
  3. Fatigue Symptoms - Sale C, Saunders B, Hudson S, Wise JA, Harris RC, Sunderland CDEffect of β-alanine plus sodium bicarbonate on high-intensity cycling capacityMed Sci Sports Exerc.(2011 Oct)
  4. Anaerobic Capacity - Sweeney KM, Wright GA, Glenn Brice A, Doberstein STThe effect of beta-alanine supplementation on power performance during repeated sprint activityJ Strength Cond Res.(2010 Jan)
  5. Power Output - Derave W, Ozdemir MS, Harris RC, Pottier A, Reyngoudt H, Koppo K, Wise JA, Achten Ebeta-Alanine supplementation augments muscle carnosine content and attenuates fatigue during repeated isokinetic contraction bouts in trained sprintersJ Appl Physiol.(2007 Nov)
  6. Power Output - Hoffman J, Ratamess NA, Ross R, Kang J, Magrelli J, Neese K, Faigenbaum AD, Wise JABeta-alanine and the hormonal response to exerciseInt J Sports Med.(2008 Dec)
  7. Muscular Endurance - Jordan T, Lukaszuk J, Misic M, Umoren JEffect of beta-alanine supplementation on the onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA) during treadmill running: Pre/post 2 treatment experimental designJ Int Soc Sports Nutr.(2010 May 19)
  8. Muscular Endurance - Stout JR, Cramer JT, Zoeller RF, Torok D, Costa P, Hoffman JR, Harris RC, O'Kroy JEffects of beta-alanine supplementation on the onset of neuromuscular fatigue and ventilatory threshold in womenAmino Acids.(2007)
  9. Oxygen Uptake - Smith AE, Walter AA, Graef JL, Kendall KL, Moon JR, Lockwood CM, Fukuda DH, Beck TW, Cramer JT, Stout JREffects of beta-alanine supplementation and high-intensity interval training on endurance performance and body composition in men; a double-blind trialJ Int Soc Sports Nutr.(2009 Feb 11)
  10. Fatigue Symptoms - Stout JR, Cramer JT, Mielke M, O'Kroy J, Torok DJ, Zoeller RFEffects of twenty-eight days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on the physical working capacity at neuromuscular fatigue thresholdJ Strength Cond Res.(2006 Nov)
  11. Lean Mass - Walter AA, Smith AE, Kendall KL, Stout JR, Cramer JTSix weeks of high-intensity interval training with and without beta-alanine supplementation for improving cardiovascular fitness in womenJ Strength Cond Res.(2010 May)
  12. Power Output - Baguet A, Bourgois J, Vanhee L, Achten E, Derave WImportant role of muscle carnosine in rowing performanceJ Appl Physiol.(2010 Oct)
  13. Lean Mass - Kern BD, Robinson TLEffects of β-alanine supplementation on performance and body composition in collegiate wrestlers and football playersJ Strength Cond Res.(2011 Jul)
  14. Muscular Endurance - Hoffman JR, Ratamess NA, Faigenbaum AD, Ross R, Kang J, Stout JR, Wise JAShort-duration beta-alanine supplementation increases training volume and reduces subjective feelings of fatigue in college football playersNutr Res.(2008 Jan)
  15. Anaerobic Capacity - Weiliang Chung, Greg Shaw, Megan E. Anderson, David B. Pyne, Philo U. Saunders, David J. Bishop, Louise M. BurkeEffect of 10 Week Beta-Alanine Supplementation on Competition and Training Performance in Elite SwimmersNutrients.()
  16. Fatigue Symptoms - Stout JR, Graves BS, Smith AE, Hartman MJ, Cramer JT, Beck TW, Harris RCThe effect of beta-alanine supplementation on neuromuscular fatigue in elderly (55-92 Years): a double-blind randomized studyJ Int Soc Sports Nutr.(2008 Nov 7)