Beta-alanine has been a staple ingredient in pre-workouts supplements since it burst onto the scene a little over a decade ago. It’s both adored and loathed by masses of people for the same reason — the tingles, a.k.a paresthesia.

While these spidey-sense type feelings confer no direct benefit to athletes (aside from making them feel itchy and/or alert), beta-alanine does actually have a pretty robust body of evidence demonstrating it can enhance athletic performance across a wide range of physical endeavors, including rowing, boxing, running, football, and weightlifting.

More specifically, various studies have noted that beta alanine supplementation may help increase training volume by an additional rep or two.[1,2,3] Other research suggests it can boost endurance by 2.85% and improve performance in repeated sprint interval training.[4,5]

When you take beta alanine, your body combines it with histidine to form an intracellular buffer called carnosine.

Carnosine helps buffer and remove H+ ions (metabolic waste products resulting from muscle contractions) as they accumulate during training. The more H+ ions that can be buffered, the greater your endurance and capacity to continue banging out reps is.

But here’s the thing…while beta alanine may be effective in certain situations for certain athletic populations, there’s a great deal of misunderstanding and misinformation about the ingredient.

Namely, that it belongs in pre-workouts.

Simply put, beta alanine has no place in a pre workout.

We’ll say that again — there is absolutely no reason to take beta alanine pre-workout. Do we have your attention now?

Now, before you go and start dumping your tubs of beta alanine-inclusive pre-workout down the toilet like a coke dealer getting his door blown in by the SWAT team, know that there is nothing “wrong” with taking beta alanine pre-workout.

It’s just that there is not an inherent need or just cause to take it pre-workout. In other words, there’s no point to taking beta alanine pre-workout.

You see, the purpose of a pre-workout is to provide your body with nutrients that have an acute (immediate) effect and improve your performance in the training session immediately following your ingestion of said pre-workout.

Beta-alanine provides NO known ergogenic effect in the ensuing workout.

None. Nada. Zip.

You see, beta-alanine works via bioaccumulation in skeletal muscle. In layman’s terms that means your muscles continue to store beta-alanine (as carnosine) until it becomes “saturated” with it.

The only way this happens is if you take it every day, and a fair amount of it too (typically more than what is put in your typical bargain bin pre-workout).

Research shows that you need to consume between 3.2-6.4g of beta alanine everyday to reach the “saturation point” of 179g to derive benefit from it.

That means you would have to be taking 6.4 grams per day (divided across multiple doses) for 28 days straight before your muscles are fully loaded, you start experiencing the benefits of beta alanine supplementation.

Unfortunately, most people don’t take a pre workout every day of the week, and not everyone uses a pre workout before every training session (nor are we recommending that you take a stim-based pre workout everyday either).

Therefore, if you’re relying on your pre workout to satisfy your beta alanine supplementation needs, and you are not taking your pre workout everyday (and again we’re not recommending that you do), then your muscles aren’t continually receiving their “fix” of beta alanine, which prolongs the point at which you reach saturation, if you ever reach it at all given the pitiful dose and infrequent dosing protocols of BA-inclusive pre workouts.

For these reasons (lack of acute ergogenic effect, required daily dosing, large accumulation amount, etc.), there is no valid reason to include beta alanine in your pre workout supplement!

This is why we do not include beta alanine in ATP Perform Kinetics.

Perform Kinetics was scientifically engineered to supply your mind and muscles with ingredients that provide immediate impact, confering acute ergogenic benefits in the immediately proceeding workout.

Now, don’t worry, we didn’t completely neglect beta alanine.

We do include it in Generation, our all-day, everyday “muscle multivitamin” that is intended to be consumed on training days and non-training days.

Companies who choose to include beta alanine in their pre workouts are using it as a cheap filler ingredient and/or as a means to make you think your pre workout is “hitting hard” due to the paresthesia, acute doses of beta alanine can provide.

But don’t be fooled, that 1.6 or 2g dose of pre workout beta alanine is having no immediate impact on your performance, and as such does not earn a spot in the pantheon of best pre workout ingredients.

References

  1. Baguet, Audrey, et al. “Important role of muscle carnosine in rowing performance.” Journal of Applied Physiology 109.4 (2010): 1096-1101.
  2. Hoffman, Jay R., et al. “Short-duration β-alanine supplementation increases training volume and reduces subjective feelings of fatigue in college football players.” Nutrition research 28.1 (2008): 31-35.
  3. Kresta, Julie Y., et al. “Effects of 28 days of beta-alanine and creatine supplementation on muscle carnosine, body composition and exercise performance in recreationally active females.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 11.1 (2014): 1.
  4. Hobson, Ruth M., et al. “Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis.” Amino acids 43.1 (2012): 25-37.
  5. Quesnele, Jairus J., et al. “The effects of beta-alanine supplementation on performance: a systematic review of the literature.” Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 24.1 (2014): 14-27.