Small amount of beta-alanine also works
The body is just as thrifty with beta-alanine in daily doses of 1.6 g as it is with doses of 3.2 g. A study done at the Nestle Research Center in Lausanne has shown that both doses cause a sustained increase in the carnosine concentration in the muscles.
Beta-Alanine is an amino acid; its structural formula is shown below. In the body it is one of the building blocks for the dipeptide carnosine. The more beta-alanine you take, the more carnosine your muscles synthesise. And that's good news, because carnosine works as a buffer. It neutralises the hydrogen ions that are released during intensive exercise. The higher the carnosine concentration in your muscle cells, the longer you can keep going at high exertion.
Cyclists, runners, swimmers and footballers can last longer and sprint more if they take beta-alanine supplements; strength athletes can do longer sets. Beta-Alanine supplements help athletes to perform better and gives them better training stimuli.
We don't yet know how long it's worth taking beta-alanine for and what the optimal dose is, but the study described here, published in Amino Acids, gives some pointers.
Thirty-one slim men were given a placebo or beta-alanine for a period of eight weeks. The beta-alanine was given in 800-mg tablets, which the men took three times a day with their meals.
One group took a daily dose of 3.2 g beta-alanine for the first four weeks and then 1.6 g beta-alanine daily for another four weeks [high-low]. Another group took 1.6 g per day for eight weeks [low-low].
The figure below shows that in all cases during the eight weeks' supplementation, the carnosine concentration continued to rise. If you take 1.6 g per day the increase is a little slower than if you take 3.2 g, but in the end the carnosine concentration in muscle cells reaches the same level.
Looking at the research results, you can also conclude that you can take a daily 3.2 g beta-alanine for at least eight weeks – and probably for longer – and that during that period your carnosine concentration will continue to rise. Looks like the supplementation effect increases throughout the entire period.
Amino Acids. 2012 Jun;42(6):2461-72.
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