Beat the Burn: Beta-Alanine and Muscular Endurance

Beat the Burn: Beta-Alanine and Muscular Endurance

How much endurance do your muscles really have? Try sprinting around a track for as long as possible — you probably won’t be able to keep this up for more than a few minutes or a couple of laps. But you can improve how hard you can go and how much you can accomplish before your muscles give out.

One obvious way is training, and another is proper supplementation: Here’s the part where you learn everything there is to know about beta-alanine, a key ingredient in Openfit Fuel that’s receiving a lot of attention for its ability to delay fatigue and boost endurance.

Give Openfit Fuel a try before you next workout for an extra boost to keep you sweating! 

 

What Is Beta-Alanine?

We’ve all been there: You go to the gym, you’re working hard, and you just… can’t… finish.

“Beta-alanine is an amino acid, and the reason it’s getting a lot of attention is that supplementing with it can help improve exercise performance, specifically by delaying muscular fatigue,” says Trevor Thieme, C.S.C.S.

To talk about why beta-alanine matters and what it can do for your workouts, we have to start with adenosine triphosphate, or ATP.

 

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ATP

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is the body’s go-to energy source. The more intensely you exercise, the faster your body will metabolize it to support your working muscles, and the faster one of the byproducts of that metabolism, hydrogen ions, will accumulate in your muscle tissue.

When those ions start to accumulate faster than your body can clear them, your muscles become acidified. That, in turn, impairs their functioning, hastens their fatigue, and triggers what many people experience as a deep burning sensation.

 

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Carnosine

Carnosine is a dipeptide protein that buffers muscular acidification, thus helping to stave off muscular fatigue.

When carnosine is consumed, either in supplement form or from natural sources like animal proteins, it is broken down into its two amino acids.

“Beta-alanine is one of two amino acids — the other is L-histidine — that comprise the protein carnosine, which can help buffer muscle acidification and thereby delay fatigue,” says Thieme.

 

Benefits of Beta-Alanine

You’re probably wondering: If carnosine is the key to completing longer, more intense workouts, shouldn’t we all just start taking carnosine supplements?

Well, no. “When you consume carnosine, the body breaks it down into L-histidine and beta-alanine,” says Thieme, “and then reassembles those amino acids back into carnosine inside muscle cells.” But there’s typically less beta-alanine available in your cells than L-histidine.

“By supplementing with beta-alanine, you can increase your body’s ability to synthesize and store carnosine in muscle tissue,” says Thieme. “The result: A greater ability to buffer muscle acidification and delay fatigue.”

 

When to Take Beta-Alanine

Thieme says an ideal strategy is to take 1,600 mg a day in two equal doses, although 1,600 mg at once is acceptable, too, if you’re not suffering any side effects (see below). And it’s important to note that you probably won’t see results right away.

“Keep in mind that it takes time to elevate carnosine concentration,” says Thieme. “You’ll likely notice improvements in exercise performance after one to two months of daily use.”

 

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Why Does Your Skin Tingle With Beta-Alanine?

The only common side effect from beta-alanine consumption is a harmless symptom called paresthesia. It’s characterized by a tingling sensation throughout the body, and most often occurs with higher doses, although some people experience the symptom with doses as low as 800 mg.

If you experience paresthesia, try taking several smaller (i.e., less than 800 mg) doses of beta-alanine throughout the day instead of one or two large ones.

About

Micah Elconin is the founder and principal of Season to Taste, a consulting firm focused on growing small to mid sized food businesses to create stronger regional food economies. He is a former private chef and nutrition consultant focused on using food to support health and happiness. His client list includes Will Smith, David Crosby and Noah Wyle. Micah is also a passionate rock climber and cyclist.