Beta-alanine is a popular supplement among athletes and fitness enthusiasts.
This is because it has been shown to improve performance and benefit overall health.
What is beta-alanine?
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid.
Unlike most amino acids, it is not used by the body to synthesize protein.
Instead, together with histidine, it produces carnosine. Carnosine is then stored in skeletal muscle (1 Trusted Source).
Carnosine reduces lactic acid buildup in muscles during exercise, improving athletic performance
How does it work?
In muscles, histidine levels are normally high and beta-alanine levels low, which limits carnosine production.
Supplementing with beta-alanine has been shown to increase carnosine levels in muscles by 80%.
Here's how carnosine works during exercise:
- Glucose is broken down: glycolysis is the breakdown of glucose, which is the main source of fuel during high-intensity exercise.
- Lactate is produced: as you exercise, your muscles break down glucose into lactic acid. This is converted into lactate, which produces hydrogen ions (H ).
- Your muscles become more acidic: hydrogen ions reduce the pH level in your muscles, making them more acidic.
- Fatigue begins: muscle acidity blocks the breakdown of glucose and reduces the ability of the muscles to contract. This causes fatigue.
- Carnosine buffers: carnosine acts as a buffer against acid, reducing acidity in the muscles during high-intensity exercise.
Because beta-alanine supplements increase carnosine levels, they help your muscles reduce acid levels during exercise. This reduces overall fatigue.