Beta-alanine has gained significant popularity as a dietary supplement due to its potential benefits in improving physical performance and reducing fatigue. It’s a common ingredient in pre-workout blends, noted for giving you an itchy, tingling feeling. This article aims to delve into the research surrounding beta-alanine supplementation and its effects on various aspects of exercise performance. Let’s explore the benefits of beta-alanine, while also addressing potential side effects and dosage recommendations for optimal results.

Increased Muscle Carnosine Levels

Beta-alanine acts as a precursor to carnosine, a dipeptide found abundantly in skeletal muscle. Studies have shown that supplementing with beta-alanine can elevate muscle carnosine levels significantly (Stellingwerff et al., 2012). Increased carnosine levels are associated with improved exercise performance and muscle endurance (Hobson et al., 2012).

Improved High-Intensity Exercise Performance

Beta-alanine supplementation has been extensively researched for its impact on high-intensity, short-duration activities such as weightlifting, sprinting, and interval training. By buffering the accumulation of lactic acid, beta-alanine helps delay the onset of fatigue and enables individuals to engage in longer and more intense workouts (Artioli et al., 2010).

beta-alanine benefits

Enhanced Muscle Endurance

In addition to its impact on high-intensity exercise, beta-alanine has also been found to improve muscle endurance during anaerobic activities. By reducing acidosis in muscles, beta-alanine delays fatigue and enhances overall endurance capacity (Derave et al., 2007).

Increased Time to Exhaustion

Studies have shown that beta-alanine supplementation extends the time to exhaustion in both aerobic and anaerobic activities. This means individuals can exercise for longer periods before reaching the point of fatigue, leading to improved training adaptations and potential performance gains (Smith et al., 2009).

Positive Effects on Body Composition

Several studies suggest that beta-alanine supplementation may have a positive impact on body composition. By improving training intensity and volume, beta-alanine may contribute to greater gains in lean muscle mass and potentially aid in reducing body fat (Kern et al., 2011).

Potential Side Effect: Itch (Paresthesia)

Beta-alanine supplementation may cause a harmless side effect known as paresthesia, characterized by tingling or flushing sensations on the skin. The intensity and duration of paresthesia can vary among individuals. While it is not harmful, some individuals may find it uncomfortable. It is important to note that the presence of paresthesia does not indicate the effectiveness of beta-alanine.

beta alanine benefits

Beta-Alanine Supplementation: The Verdict

A meta-analysis of 40 studies concluded “β-alanine had a significant overall effect while subgroup analyses revealed a number of modifying factors.” The most important of those modifying factors was “duration of continuous exercise.” At 1-4 minutes the effect was significant. However, “No effect was shown for exercise protocols lasting under 1 min.” Note that an average 10-rep set lasts about 30 seconds.

So, beta-alanine is valuable for high-rep sets (20 reps or more), circuit training, supersets, giant sets, drop sets, high-intensity cardio, and any exercise performed with maximum effort and minimal rest for more than a continuous minute, from sled-pushing to cycling to MMA fighting and much more. If none of the above applies to you, beta-alanine is an unnecessary supplement. But for most of exercisers, beta-alanine is a useful supplement. It’ll help you eke out a couple final reps near the end of a drop set or giant set or keep you sprinting during that final burst of cardio.

Beta-Alanine Dosage Recommendations

To achieve optimal results with beta-alanine supplementation, a loading phase followed by a maintenance phase is recommended. During the loading phase, individuals typically consume 4-6 grams of beta-alanine per day, divided into multiple doses, for a duration of 2-4 weeks. This loading phase helps saturate muscle carnosine levels. After the loading phase, a maintenance dose of 2-3 grams per day is usually sufficient to maintain elevated carnosine levels.


Stellingwerff, T., Anwander, H., Egger, A., Buehler, T., Kreis, R., & Decombaz, J. (2012). Effect of two β-alanine dosing protocols on muscle carnosine synthesis and washout. Amino Acids, 42(6), 2461-2472.

Hobson, R. M., Saunders, B., Ball, G., Harris, R. C., & Sale, C. (2012). Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino Acids, 43(1), 25-37.

Artioli, G. G., Gualano, B., Smith, A., Stout, J., & Lancha Jr, A. H. (2010). Role of beta-alanine supplementation on muscle carnosine and exercise performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 42(6), 1162-1173.

Derave, W., Everaert, I., Beeckman, S., & Baguet, A. (2007). Muscle carnosine metabolism and beta-alanine supplementation in relation to exercise and training. Sports Medicine, 47(7), 135-146.

Smith, A. E., Walter, A. A., Graef, J. L., Kendall, K. L., Moon, J. R., Lockwood, C. M., … & Stout, J. R. (2009). Effects of β-alanine supplementation and high-intensity interval training on endurance performance and body composition in men; a double-blind trial. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 6(1), 5.

Kern, B. D., & Robinson, T. L. (2011). Effects of β-alanine supplementation on performance and body composition in collegiate wrestlers and football players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 25(7), 1804-1815.