Fat-Loss With Beta Alanine – Is It Real?

Beta Alanine, a naturally occurring amino acid, combines with histidine to form carnosine in skeletal muscle (Caruso et al., 2012). A relatively new addition to the “ergogenic” group of supplements (those that improve exercise performance), Beta Alanine – either alone or in combination with carnosine – has been shown perform useful physiological functions within the human body.

Beta AlanineImproving exercise performance, enhanced athletic ability and fat loss are some of the purported benefits of Beta Alanine supplementation.

Although, Beta Alanine-containing supplements are marketed and sold for their health and exercises benefits, we decided to investigate whether Beta Alanine really does affect health and exercise performance favourably.

Background on Beta Alanine

Beta Alanine is an amino acid present in the human body (Derave, Everaert, Beeckman, & Baguet, 2010). It combines with histidine to form carnosine in skeletal muscle (Caruso et al., 2012). A relatively new addition to the ‘ergogenic’ group of supplements (those that improve exercise performance), Beta Alanine – either alone or in combination with carnosine – has been shown perform useful physiological functions within the human body. Improving exercise performance, enhanced athletic ability and fat loss are some of the purported benefits of Beta Alanine supplementation.

Beta Alanine-containing supplements are marketed and sold for their health and exercises benefits.

Read on to find out more Beta Alanine including the mechanism of its alleged fat-burning abilities, the recommended dose, the safety profile and more importantly, the scientific evidence in favour (or otherwise) of Beta Alanine.

The Beta Alanine mechanism for Improved exercise performance and fat loss

As stated earlier, Beta Alanine is endogenously produced (in the human body) within the liver – by a process which involves irreversible degradation of nucleic acid bases, thymine, cytosine and uracil (Derave et al., 2010). This Beta Alanine finds its way to the skeletal muscle cells where it exerts its beneficial actions on exercise performance. Also, it combines with histidine to form carnosine (Caruso et al., 2012). Carnosine itself is an ergogenic which further potentiates the beneficial effects of Beta Alanine.

Carnosine so produced, plays a plethora of physiological roles in humans; some of these are: inhibition of lipid and protein oxidation, ATPase activation, cell membrane protection and protection of proteins from glycation (Derave et al., 2010; Tiedje, Stevens, Barnes, & Weaver, 2010; Penafiel, Ruzafa, Monserrat, & Cremades, 2004; Boldyrev, 1993; Harris et al., 2006; Hipkiss, 2009; Hipkiss, Michaelis, & Syrris, 1995). It is also believed to an anti-aging agent (Hipkiss, 2009) and a neurotransmitter (Caruso et al., 2012).

However, more importantly (from exercisers’ point of interest), carnosine (and therefore, Beta Alanine supplementation indirectly) is responsible for abating exercise-induced fatigue (Culbertson, Kreider, Greenwood, & Cooke, 2010; Tiedje et al., 2010; Boldyrev, 1993; Harris et al., 2006; Trombley, Horning, & Blakemore, 2000).

Exercise – especially high intensity – is associated with production of lactate acid and H+ ions within the muscle cells. This produces a fall in pH from 7.1 to less than 6.5 (reference). These high levels of metabolic acidosis, especially high level of H+ ions, compromise muscle contractility and recovery from exercise. Mechanism like impaired calcium ion release and compromised calcium-ATPase activity (Gladden, 2004), reduced calcium reuptake by sarcoplasmic reticulum (Sahlin, Harris, Nylind, & Hultman, 1976; Hoffman et al., 2008) and competitive inhibition of calcium at troponin c subunit have been suggested.

To normalize such conditions, muscle cells utilize what are called buffers. Owing to its potent H+ accepting abilities, carnosine remains a principal buffer over a wide range of pH within type I as well as type II skeletal muscle fibers (Caruso et al., 2012; Dutka, Lamboley, McKenna, Murphy, & Lamb, 2012; Sweeney, Wright, Glenn, & Doberstein, 2010).

Supplementation with Beta Alanine, by improving carnosine levels in skeletal muscle, is indirectly responsible for improving exercise capacity in an individual.

It has also been suggested that Beta Alanine supplements may induce an anabolic response (with increase in levels of testosterone). A study conducted by Hoffman et al., suggested that Beta Alanine and creatine, when used together, may translate the increased levels of testosterone into increased strength gains (Hoffman et al., 2006). The study also concluded that Beta Alanine may be responsible for gain in lean tissue and improved body composition (fat loss) (Hoffman et al., 2006).

Although the direct mechanism responsible for the alleged fat-burning abilities of Beta Alanine has not been defined, it is suspected that the improved exercise performance, lean body mass and anabolic milieu may be responsible for inducing fat-loss.

Recommended Doses and Safety

Effective doses of Beta Alanine as an ergogenic and fat-loss supplement have not been defined. However, clinical studies have tended to use doses as high as 6.4 grams per day (for as many as 10 weeks) without any adverse effects.

The only adverse effect – reported rarely – on oral ingestion of Beta Alanine is paresthesia (altered touch sensations) (Caruso et al., 2012). Researchers believe that the severity of these paresthesia episodes may be related to the dose used. Also, there seems to be a general consensus that Beta Alanine supplementation should be avoided in those with a previous history of paresthesia.

Our Verdict on Beta Alanine

It appears that Beta Alanine does improve exercise performance, in both athletes as well as the normal population. How, it causes fat-loss, however, is not known. Diet Pills Watchdog would like to reserve judgement on this one until such a time that more concrete proof is available.

Reference List

  • Boldyrev, A. A. (1993). Does carnosine possess direct antioxidant activity? Int J Biochem., 25, 1101-1107.
    Caruso, J., Charles, J., Unruh, K., Giebel, R., Learmonth, L., & Potter, W. (2012). Ergogenic effects of beta-alanine and carnosine: proposed future research to quantify their efficacy. Nutrients., 4, 585-601.
  • Culbertson, J. Y., Kreider, R. B., Greenwood, M., & Cooke, M. (2010). Effects of beta-alanine on muscle carnosine and exercise performance: a review of the current literature. Nutrients., 2, 75-98.
  • Derave, W., Everaert, I., Beeckman, S., & Baguet, A. (2010). Muscle carnosine metabolism and beta-alanine supplementation in relation to exercise and training. Sports Med, 40, 247-263.
  • Dutka, T. L., Lamboley, C. R., McKenna, M. J., Murphy, R. M., & Lamb, G. D. (2012). Effects of carnosine on contractile apparatus Ca(2)(+) sensitivity and sarcoplasmic reticulum Ca(2)(+) release in human skeletal muscle fibers. J Appl.Physiol (1985.), 112, 728-736.
  • Gladden, L. B. (2004). Lactate metabolism: a new paradigm for the third millennium. J Physiol, 558, 5-30.
    Harris, R. C., Tallon, M. J., Dunnett, M., Boobis, L., Coakley, J., Kim, H. J. et al. (2006). The absorption of orally supplied beta-alanine and its effect on muscle carnosine synthesis in human vastus lateralis. Amino.Acids, 30, 279-289.
  • Hipkiss, A. R. (2009). On the enigma of carnosine’s anti-ageing actions. Exp.Gerontol., 44, 237-242.
  • Hipkiss, A. R., Michaelis, J., & Syrris, P. (1995). Non-enzymatic glycosylation of the dipeptide L-carnosine, a potential anti-protein-cross-linking agent. FEBS Lett., 371, 81-85.
  • Hoffman, J., Ratamess, N., Kang, J., Mangine, G., Faigenbaum, A., & Stout, J. (2006). Effect of creatine and beta-alanine supplementation on performance and endocrine responses in strength/power athletes. Int J Sport Nutr.Exerc.Metab, 16, 430-446.
  • Hoffman, J., Ratamess, N. A., Ross, R., Kang, J., Magrelli, J., Neese, K. et al. (2008). Beta-alanine and the hormonal response to exercise. Int J Sports Med, 29, 952-958.
  • Penafiel, R., Ruzafa, C., Monserrat, F., & Cremades, A. (2004). Gender-related differences in carnosine, anserine and lysine content of murine skeletal muscle. Amino.Acids, 26, 53-58.
  • Sahlin, K., Harris, R. C., Nylind, B., & Hultman, E. (1976). Lactate content and pH in muscle obtained after dynamic exercise. Pflugers Arch., 367, 143-149.
  • Sweeney, K. M., Wright, G. A., Glenn, B. A., & Doberstein, S. T. (2010). The effect of beta-alanine supplementation on power performance during repeated sprint activity. J Strength Cond.Res., 24, 79-87.
  • Tiedje, K. E., Stevens, K., Barnes, S., & Weaver, D. F. (2010). Beta-alanine as a small molecule neurotransmitter. Neurochem.Int, 57, 177-188.
  • Trombley, P. Q., Horning, M. S., & Blakemore, L. J. (2000). Interactions between carnosine and zinc and copper: implications for neuromodulation and neuroprotection. Biochemistry (Mosc.), 65, 807-816.

Disclaimer: Our reviews and investigations are based on extensive research from the information publicly available to us and consumers at the time of first publishing the post. Information is based on our personal opinion and whilst we endeavour to ensure information is up-to-date, manufacturers do from time to time change their products and future research may disagree with our findings. If you feel any of the information is inaccurate, please contact us and we will review the information provided.

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