Quick Navigation

Beta-Alanine

Beta-alanine is the building block of carnosine, a molecule that helps buffer acid in muscles. Beta-alanine supplementation improves performance during high-intensity exercise lasting from 1 to 10 minutes. Carnosine appears to be an antioxidant and may have effects on aging.

Our evidence-based analysis on beta-alanine features 142 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by and reviewed by the Examine team.
Last Updated:

Summary of Beta-Alanine

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

What is beta-alanine?

Beta-alanine is a nonproteinogenic amino acid (i.e., it is not incorporated into proteins during translation). It is synthesized in the liver and can be ingested in the diet through animal-based foods like beef and chicken. Once ingested, beta-alanine combines with histidine within skeletal muscle and other organs to form carnosine. Beta-alanine is the limiting factor in muscle carnosine synthesis.

What are beta-alanine's main benefits?

Beta-alanine has been shown to enhance muscular endurance during high-intensity exercise lasting 1–10 minutes.[1] Examples of exercise that may be enhanced by beta-alanine supplementation include 400–1500 meter running and 100–400 meter swimming.

Carnosine also appears to exert antiaging effects, mainly by suppressing errors in protein metabolism, as the accumulation of altered proteins is strongly associated with the aging process. These antiaging effects may derive from its role as an antioxidant, a chelator of toxic metal ions, and an antiglycation agent.[2]

What are beta-alanine's main drawbacks?

Large doses of beta-alanine may cause a tingling feeling called paresthesia.[3] It is a harmless side effect, but some people find the sensation uncomfortable.

How is beta-alanine taken?

Studies have investigated a range of 3.2–6.4 grams per day of beta-alanine.[4] To avoid paraesthesia, a dose of 0.8-1.6 grams of beta-alanine every 3-4 hours is recommended. There are also sustained-release formulations available that permit the use of greater doses without the risk of paresthesia.[5][6] Although beta-alanine is commonly included in preworkout stacks, the timing of ingestion does not influence its effectiveness.

How does beta-alanine work?

When beta-alanine is ingested, it turns into the molecule carnosine, which acts as an acid buffer in the body. Carnosine is stored in cells and released in response to drops in pH. During intense exercise, carnosine binds to hydrogen ions (H+) to attenuate the decline in intracellular pH, allowing for a longer duration of exercise at higher intensity.

Want the unbiased truth on building muscle?

Our free muscle building mini-course teaches you what works, what's a waste of time, and advanced tips.

We cover bottlenecks, supplements that actually work, a surprising way you could be limiting your muscle gains, and what you need to do to maximize muscle building.

Easily stay on top of the latest nutrition research

Become an Examine Member to get access to the latest research. Get 150+ studies summarized for you across 25 different categories every month.

Members also have access to the Examine Study Database of 400+ supplements and their effects on 600+ health outcomes, as well as in-depth research analyses. Understand the whole body of nutrition and supplement evidence at a glance.

Get instant access — start your free 14-day trial

Already a Member? Click here to log in.


Human Effect Matrix

Unlocked for Examine Members

Easily stay on top of the latest nutrition research

Become an Examine Member to get access to the latest research. Get 150+ studies summarized for you across 25 different categories every month.

Members also have access to the Examine Study Database of 400+ supplements and their effects on 600+ health outcomes, as well as in-depth research analyses. Understand the whole body of nutrition and supplement evidence at a glance.

Get instant access — start your free 14-day trial

Already a Member? Click here to log in.


The Human Effect Matrix summarizes human studies to tell you what effects Beta-Alanine has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

Full details are available to Examine Members. Not a Member? Try Examine Membership completely free for two weeks.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-a Minor Very High See all 8 studies
The lone meta-analysis suggests a small benefit: a median 2.85% increase in muscular endurance when exercising for 60-240 s (usually measured by time to exhaustion).
grade-b Minor High See all 3 studies
A mildly positive effect, possibly secondary to an increase in muscular endurance and to a reduction in fatigue, rather than being due to any cardiopulmonary interaction.
grade-b Minor High See all 7 studies
Somewhat effective at reducing fatigue and, secondary to that, at improving time to exhaustion.
grade-b - Very High See all 5 studies
No significant effect on acute power output.
grade-b - Moderate See all 5 studies
Effects on VO2 max are highly unreliable and not currently thought significant.
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
Some studies suggest a fat loss effect, possibly secondary to an increase in workout volume.
grade-c Minor Very High See all 3 studies
Beta-alanine seems to have a hypertrophic effect, either inherently or through greater workload, but this effect does not appear overly potent.
grade-c - - See study
grade-c - - See study
grade-c - - See study

Studies Excluded from Consideration

  • One study was excluded due to the confounding effect of creatine.[7]

Stay on top of the latest research

To unlock the full archives of our Study Database and research analyses, become an Examine Member today.

Start your 14-day free trial

Frequently Asked Questions and Articles on Beta-Alanine

What beneficial compounds are primarily found in animal products?

Things to Note

Primary Function:

Also Known As

b-alanine, β-alanine, carnosine precursor

Do Not Confuse With

L-alanine, L-carnitine

  • If an excess is taken acutely, harmless tingling (paresthesia) will result.

Are you tired of all the misinformation pushed by supplement companies?

We've developed a free muscle building mini-course based on nutrition research to help you understand how to build muscle better. Learn about:

  • What supplements work
  • What supplements are a waste of time and money
  • How antioxidants could be messing up your muscle growth
  • How to maximize muscle growth
Click here to see all 142 references.