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What Does Beta-Alanine Do In Pre-Workout?

Tyler Sellers
Published by Tyler Sellers
Fact checked by Donald Christman, BHSc FACT CHECKED

One of the most common ingredients that you’ll find on the nutrition label of pre-workout supplements is beta-alanine.

And as a personal fitness coach, I’ve spent a lot of time researching the benefits and effects of this ingredient. When you take a close look at all the science behind it, you learn to appreciate it a lot more.

But the most interesting thing is how it actually works so that you can figure out whether it’s something that should be part of your supplement stack.

Let’s see what it’s about.

Quick Summary

  • Beta-alanine is an amino acid that the human body naturally produces, and boosting the available amount can directly impact muscle performance.
  • It plays a key role in how energy is available in muscle cells and how they are affected by lactic acid during training.
  • The trick with pre-workout beta-alanine is to get the timing right, and there are some key tips to get the most out of it.

How Does Beta-Alanine Affect The Body?

Man working out inside the gym

Beta-alanine affects the body by influencing how muscle cells can handle the buildup of lactic acid.

During resistance training, muscles break down glucose for energy, and the byproduct is lactic acid.

That’s the stuff that makes your muscles burn and signals that you’re close to how far you can push yourself [1].

What beta-alanine does is influence how much carnosine is available in muscle cells.

And carnosine, in turn, protects muscle cells from lactic acid buildup [2].

What all that fancy stuff means is that a pre-workout with beta-alanine can help to reduce the impact of lactic acid on muscle fatigue. You’ll be able to lift a few extra pounds, do a few more reps, or add a few extra sets.

And all that makes your training sessions that much more efficient. It’s also something that you can easily measure if you do some trial runs where you do the same training session with and without this pre-workout ingredient.

Related Article: Beta-alanine vs Creatine

Who Can Benefit The Most From Beta-Alanine In Pre-Workout?

Athletes who go through intense resistance training or who engage in workouts where they push themselves through endurance training can benefit from beta-alanine in pre-workout.

Let’s break that down a bit more.

First of all, any bodybuilder who aims to get the maximum benefits from each training session will notice that they can add a few more pounds to a barbell or complete an extra rep or two compared to a standard training session.

That extra amount might not sound like much. But when you add it all up over weeks and months, you’ll see faster bulking.

Similarly, endurance athletes like long-distance runners can experience similar benefits by delaying the muscle burn and soreness and helping them deal with hitting “the wall” that much better [3].

“Beta-alanine aids in the production of carnosine. That's a compound that plays a role in muscle endurance in high-intensity exercise.”

- Melinda Ratini, DO, MS WebMD.com

When Is The Best Time To Take It?

Workout supplement on bowl

The best time to take beta-alanine in a pre-workout is about 20 to 30 minutes before you start your workout.

This is just a guideline, and you’ll need to do some experimenting depending on your training.

As a bodybuilder, you want the benefits to kick in once you complete your warm-up and start your first sets.

That should be about 10-15 minutes into your gym session.

Start taking your beta-alanine supplement about 30 minutes before your warm-up and see if you notice the difference in your sets.

If the benefits don’t kick in until later, then you need to take it a bit earlier.

For endurance runners, I would recommend that you take it right when you start running.

That way, it will kick in once your muscles start showing signs of fatigue. And if you’re running a marathon or longer distances, then consider taking it after you start to gain the most benefit later in your run.

FAQs

Is Beta-Alanine a BCAA?

No, beta-alanine isn’t a BCAA. BCAA are three of the nine essential amino acids that the body uses to make other proteins. Beta-alanine is a non-proteinogenic amino acid, which means it’s used as is and not to create other proteins.

Can You Mix Beta-Alanine with Creatine?

Yes, you can mix beta-alanine with creatine.

You’ll find that many pre-workout supplements contain both of these ingredients because they provide benefits for both strength and fatigue, making each training session a bigger success.

Get The Most Out Of Your Workouts

Beta-alanine is one of the main ingredients that I always look out for in pre-workout supplements. There’s just a lot of scientific evidence for the benefits, and my personal experience with clients has proven the impact many times as well.

If you need help finding the right supplement to boost your workout, then check out our testing results for some great pre-workouts.

These are the products we have thoroughly researched and seen consistent results with clients.


References:

  1. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-does-lactic-acid-buil/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20479615/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6092497/
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