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. Some of Dr. Smith-Ryan's primary work has focused on high-intensity interval training, beta-alanine supplements, 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 Dr. Smith-Ryan answers, "what is beta alanine?" and discusses beta alanine purpose and beta alanine doses for athletic individuals.

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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