New Study: Beta-Alanine Improves Strength
When it comes to pre-workout supplements with considerable human research behind them, the list is extremely sparse. One of those precious, proven commodities is beta-alanine, which has long been known as the endurance supplement.
Prized for its ability to increase carnosine levels, prolong stamina, and reduce “the burning” sensation that slams your muscles during training, beta-alanine has been a staple inclusion in pre-workouts for over a decade now. But some new research shows that beta-alanine might have more to offer than just helping you last longer during your workouts, though that’s always appreciated.
Related - Does Beta-Alanine Build Muscle?
Let’s check out the study!
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The Beta-Alanine Research
30 resistance-trained athletes (ages 18-25) took part in the study and split into two groups, with 15 subjects consuming beta alanine, and the other 15 (the control group) received a placebo.
Some other interesting notes worth mentioning about the test subjects:
- Could not be “elite athletes”
- Refrained from using performance-enhancing compounds for three months prior to starting the trial
- No use of any narcotics or mind-altering drugs
- Minimum 6 months experience with the back squat and able to squat at least 90kg
- Minimum 12 months of resistance training
For a period of five weeks, subjects trained three days per week, which included a 15-minute warm-up, and three leg exercises (back squat, barbell step ups, loaded jumping lunges). A total of 26 subjects completing the study. The remaining four individuals data was removed, and not included in the study results.
The beta-alanine group received a unique dosage of beta-alanine, with a total of 6.4 g per day (common dosage is 3.2g) provided in 8 x 800mg doses, administered at least 90 minutes apart.
The study noted that the reasoning behind the multitude of small doses throughout the day had nothing to do with increased bioavailability or hypothesized increased effectiveness over fewer and larger doses, but was instead used to prevent paresthesia (the “tingles”). The PLA group received the same dosing structure, with an identical pill (no beta-alanine) taken every 90+ minutes.
The participants each exercised three days a week for 35-60 minutes per session, including a 15-minute warm-up followed by a circuit of back squat, barbell step ups, loaded jumping lunges for a prescribed number of reps. Training volume was adjusted weekly modified weekly.
Beta-Alanine Supplementation Protocol
The group receiving beta alanine consumed a heaping 6.4g (2x the amount usually found in pre-workouts!) divided amongst 8 capsules containing 800 mg. Subjects consumed these capsules at least 90 minutes apart and no longer than 3 hours apart. The reason for the split dosing was to enhance nutrient uptake and avoid paresthesia, a.k.a. The tingles.”
The results to say the least were extremely impressive. Though both groups demonstrated big increases in squat strength, the beta-alanine group experienced a giant leap in progress. Here’s a chart that easily lays it out:
Additionally, researchers observed that beta alanine also increased:
- Power output for loads equivalent to 1RM
- Power output gains at maximum power
- Number of sets executed
While the results are impressive, it is worth noting that these results were only attained when consuming 6.4g of beta alanine, 2-4x what you’re going to get in any pre-workout on the market. Furthermore, who is realistically going to consumed 6+ grams of beta alanine over the course of eight separate doses.
People have a hard enough time remembering to take their creatine every day. Do you really think they’re going to want to take 8 separate 800mg doses of beta-alanine?
Another thing to consider is beta-alanine’s interaction with taurine. The two compete for the same uptake receptor in the body, and, if you’re consuming too much beta alanine, you could, in theory, experience a deficiency in taurine.
Now, research to date has identified any substantial loss of intracellular taurine due to beta alanine supplementation, but if you are going to take beta-alanine and taurine, it’s best to take the two performance-enhancing supplements several hours apart.