WHAT IS BETA ALANINE?
Beta Alanine is a non-essential amino acid typically found in meat, fish and poultry.
Your body primarily uses beta-alanine to form a compound molecule called carnosine, which is stored in your muscles and brain. It does this by combining beta-alanine with an essential amino acid, L-histidine.
Where carnosine is of interest to athletes is because it helps buffer the acidity produced by hydrogen ion accumulation when we exercise. When a muscle contracts repeatedly, it becomes more and more acidic and causes our muscles to feel a burning sensation. This is one of the ways muscles become fatigued.
Higher carnosine levels in the body therefore result in an increased ability to buffer these hydrogen ions and reduce the burning sensation. Carnosine counteracts this by reducing muscle acidity, thereby increasing the amount of work the muscles can do before they become fatigued.
Beta Alanine is the limiting enzyme in the synthesis of carnosine. In other words, the amount of carnosine your body produces is directly dependent on the amount of beta-alanine available. Without sufficient beta-alanine, carnosine synthesis is limited.
Similarly, beta-alanine supplementation has been shown to delay the onset of neuromuscular fatigue. Although beta-alanine does not improve maximal strength or VO2max, some aspects of endurance performance, such as anaerobic threshold and time to exhaustion, can be enhanced, making it beneficial to both endurance and strength athletes.