Beta-Alanine Supplementation for Athletes

Next Level Podcast with Host Tavis Piattoly, MS, RD, LD

Abbie. E. Smith-Ryan- Podcast

Abbie E. Smith-Ryan, Ph.D., CSCS*D, FISSN
Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science. 

Abbie E. Smith-Ryan, Ph.D., CSCS*D, FISSN is an Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science.  Her research interests center around exercise and nutrition interventions to modify various aspects of body composition, cardiovascular health, and metabolic function.  She is an active researcher in the field of sport nutrition and exercise performance, in both young and old athletes.  Some of her primary work has focused on high-intensity interval training, beta-alanine, and creatine supplemenation.  Dr. Smith-Ryan contributes to the current body of scientific literature through her many peer-reviewed manuscripts, scholastic book chapters, and international/national presentations.

In this podcast you will learn:

  1. When was Beta-Alanine discovered?
  2. What is Beta-Alanine and how does it work?
  3. Would Beta-Alanine be beneficial for an endurance athlete, strength and power athlete, or both?
  4. Why a large amount of pre-workout products are being formulated with Beta-Alanine and will this trend continue?
  5. What are the results of her research on Beta-Alanine?
  6. Recommend dosages for Beta-Alanine?
  7. How to take Beta-Alanine (Pre-Workout, During The Workout, Post Workout, or at all phases?
  8. Does combining Beta-Alanine with other supplements like Creatine add an additional benefit?
  9. What brand of Beta-Alanine consumers should look for when reading a supplement facts panel?
  10. The safety of Beta-alanine and whether there are any side effects from taking it?
  11. Safety if used by athletes under the age of 18?

Links and Resources

Podcast Transcript

0:00 Tavis Piattoly Introduction

2:00 Dr Abbie E. Smith-Ryan Background

  • Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science. 
  • Exercise and nutrition intervention
  • Active researcher in the field of sports nutrition and exercise performance for young and old adults
  • Primary work - HIIT, Beta alanine and creatine
  • Has many peer reviewed manuscripts, scholastic book chapters and international presentations.

3:40 When was Beta-Alanine discovered?

  • First discovered by Dr. Harris
  • 2005-2006 first initial papers came out

4:18 What is Beta-Alanine and how does it work?

  • Non essential amino acid, Beta form of alanine
  • Can be obtained from diet (6-7 chicken breasts)
  • Increase muscle carnosine levels - natural buffer in the skeletal muscle of the human body

5:20 Would Beta-Alanine be beneficial for an endurance athlete, strength and power athlete, or both?

  • Potential for any athlete
  • More research needs to be done
  • Fatigue is a result of increase in hydrogen ions, phosphate and lactate
  • Beta alanine can reduce this and potentially train at a higher volume

6:55 Why a large amount of pre-workout products are being formulated with Beta-Alanine and will this trend continue?

  • Was not in pre-workouts at first, easy to add to pre workout to make it look more attractive 
  • Beta alanine needs to be supplemented for 2-4 weeks multiple times a day
  • Taking too close to workout could result in negative effects due to saturating spinal receptors in spinal cord and skin and decrease performance. 

9:43 What are the results of her research on Beta-Alanine?

  • Beta-alanine works
  • Over time, we might see it beneficial to people who are not athletes
  • Literature supports that 2-4 minute performance range will see a benefit
  • Combining with interval training, potential better body composition
  • Benefits are there, but not as good as what companies are saying
  • Central vs peripheral needs for beta-alanine
  • Influence on cardiac tissue and heart rate but more data needed

12:38 Recommended dosages for Beta-Alanine?

  • Initially started with 3.2g dose, now 6.4g per day in divided doses
  • 1.6g 4x a time is optimal
  • Taken with glucose or carbohydrates will help with absorption

13:30 How to take Beta-Alanine (Pre-Workout, During The Workout, Post Workout, or at all phases?

  • Should be taken multiple times a day, 4 times a day ideal

14:20 Does combining Beta-Alanine with other supplements like Creatine add an additional benefit?

  • Taking Beta-Alanine with creatine can have better effects overall.

15:23 What brand of Beta-Alanine consumers should look for when reading a supplement facts panel?

  • Carnosyn is the best form on the market 

17:10 The safety of Beta-alanine and whether there are any side effects from taking it?

  • Tingling feeling can come from beta-alanine, especially on an empty stomach
  • Different ethnicities can feel it more than others
  • Decrease in Taurine - important for metabolic function - not a concern if diet is good
  • More is not better. Example: vomiting can occur

19:45 Safety if used by athletes under the age of 18?

  • It is not too beneficial for athletes under the age of 18.

20:41 Anything else people should know about Beta alanine? 

  • Beta alanine will continue to be studied.
  • Beta alanine is not a replacement for a poor diet.

21:47 Tavis Piattoly Closing Remarks

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