Beta-alanine (β-Alanine) is an amino acid naturally found in muscles and the brain. Together with histidine, it forms carnosine, which helps reduce acid build-up during exercise. Despite mixed evidence of success, it is sold as a performance-enhancing supplement under names like Carnosyn and its slow release version, SR CarnoSyn.
Beta-alanine is popularly taken by athletes and avid gym goers because research has shown that beta alanine can boost your performance and your overall health.
Beta-alanine is most effective during anaerobic exercise (intense and exhaustive exercise that causes lactic acid to accumulate in the muscles), such as high-intensity interval training or sprinting. Most notably, it delays fatigue during repeated bouts of intense exercise with short recovery periods.
Women and vegetarians have lower amounts of muscle carnosine than men and meat-eaters, respectively. Furthermore, body carnosine naturally decreases with age. These groups may particularly benefit from beta-alanine.
Additionally, beta alanine is a supplement that pairs well with other supplements for further benefits.
Best Beta Alanine
1 Transparent Labs Beta Alanine
Transparent labs takes first spot by keeping everything simple; no artificial sweeteners, preservatives, or coloring, just 100% pure beta alanine. Each container has 50 servings of 3g of beta alanine which is right in the middle of the standard dosage of 2-5 grams.
Just mix 1-2 scoops before your next workout in water to help reduce muscle soreness and increase exercise repetitions and endurance.
2 NOW Sports Beta Alanine
NOW Sports beta-alanine has been a best seller for years – and for good reason. It comes in easy to swallow capsules with a minimal amount of stabilizing agents and binders. This is great for those who don’t want to deal with messy powder or dosing.
NOW Sports beta-alanine is ultra convenient and will help delay muscle fatigue and improve muscle endurance.
3Bulk Supplements Pure Beta Alanine
Bulk supplements is about as minimalist as it gets. No scooper, just a ton of raw, clean, beta alanine powder with no fillers. It’s also one of the only supplements on the list that’s lab tested for verification and guaranteed purity.
You’ll need your own scale and scooper for this one, but the value doesn’t get much better than with bulk supplements.
4 Thorne Beta Alanine-SR
Thorne is one of the cleanest supplement companies on the planet. Their team of medical professionals, researchers, and engineers lead with science, thoughtfully refining every product and process.
Their beta-alanine comes in sustained release capsule from for maximum convenience and effectiveness.
5 Optimum Nutrition Beta-alanine powder
Optimum nutrition has been in the game for a long time, so they usually know what they’re doing. Their beta-alanine powder is another example of their commitment to excellence. It’s clean, pure and exactly what you would expect.
They include supporting ingredients such as L-histidine, sodium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorous to help support your intramuscular buffering system and endurance.
6 Legion Athletics Pulse
Legion Athletic’s is a new player in the supplement space. The real magic of Pulse, is in its unique combination of natural substances scientifically proven to increase strength, endurance, focus, and mood.
Pulse contains 3.6 grams of beta-alanine per serving. This is the optimal amount because it provides significant performance benefits while also minimizing the common and harmless side effect of a mild prickling, itching, or tingling of the skin. Combine this with other synergistic ingredients such as caffeine and L-theanine, and you have one ultra effective supplement.
7 Vintage Blast Pre Workout
Vintage blast pre workout has been a best seller on amazon for years, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s the world’s first two-stage natural pre workout energy drink for men and women; steadily delivering you ingredients to power you through workouts and competitive events.
In terms of it’s beta-alanine content, each serving contains 1g. This is a little low for us and the main reason it’s a lot lower on this list.
8 Celluor C4 Original
Cellucor has been pioneering, building, and perfecting pre-workouts longer than most brands have been in sports nutrition.
Every scoop of C4 delivers a high-octane experience with the best in energy, pumps, endurance, performance, and focus, including 1.6g CarnoSyn beta alanine, 1g NO3-T creatine nitrate, 1g arginine AKG, and 150mg caffeine, with zero sugar, carbs, or calories.
9 BSN NO-XPLODE
BSN is one of the original companies that has been helping athletes train harder since 2004. There pre workout formula has changed over the years, but the results have stayed the same.
NO-Xplode contains 275mg of caffeine, 1.8g of beta-alanine and creatine for explosive energy and maximum endurance. It also comes in 5 amazing flavors – cherry limeade, raspberry lemonade, green apple, grape, fruit punch.
10 Purisure Beta-Alanine
Purisure offers a good quality bulk beta-alanine product. It doesn’t rank as highly because you only get 250 grams per container. It comes in powder form so you’ll probably need a scale as well for accurate measurements.
You’d probably want to opt for a 500 gram option, if you are considering beta-alanine as a bulk supplement though.
How We Rank
When formulating our rankings, we had some different criteria based on how the beta-alanine was delivered. This is because it’s available as part of pre-workout formulations (which usually contain with additional beneficial ingredients) and it’s available on its own.
For the most part, capsule-based beta-alanine products did not fare-well. This is because the 750mg per capsule amount requires a lot of capsules to be swallowed to get the clinically effective beta-alanine dosage of 3-5g.
In regards to pure beta-alanine powders, we looked at what was in it and how was it delivered. For pure powders, the top products almost always had just one ingredient: beta-alanine. Products lost points if they contained fillers and binders like caramel color, titanium dioxide, cellulose, and vegetable acetoglycerides. We also looked at the manufacturing processes and third-party lab verifications for purity.
When it came to the pre-workout powders, it was a little more difficult because many of the ingredients worked synergistically with one another. The first thing we looked at was the amount of beta-alanine in the formulation – anything less than 3g or beta-alanine per serving lost points (this is because the clinically effective dosage of beta-alanine is 3-5g, with most studies using 4g).
Among the supplements whose sole active ingredient was beta-alanine, we put a very high premium on purity. Here, powder-based beta-alanine supplements easily won out, because all of the pill-based beta-alanine supplements currently on the market, like Now Sports Beta-Alanine Endurance and GNC Pro Performance Beta-Alanine, had far too many unnecessary fillers and extras. We then looked for what other ingredients were included and gave points to those that tried to remain as natural as possible. Good flavors and taste were a bonus as well.
The final list became a combination of the best multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements as well as the best pure beta-alanine supplements.
1Beta alanine helps reduce lactic acid build up in your muscles while you exercise to help you last longer. Beta-alanine is processed with another compound, histidine, to produce carnosine, a compound exclusive to your skeletal muscle tissues (1).
Carnosine is what actively works to improve your performance. Specifically, carnosine can reduce the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles while you exercise (2).
This results in greater endurance and improved performance in the gym or in your sport (3).
Beta-alanine’s function is mostly in the muscle. In muscles, the amount of beta alanine is usually low while the levels of histidine are usually high (4).
This naturally limits the production of carnosine (5).
When you take a beta alanine supplement you are effectively increasing carnosine levels in your muscle tissue by up to 80% showing that beta alanine supplements are efficient at being delivered to the muscle tissue (6, 7).
This means that the end effect of beta alanine supplementation is due carnosine. Unfortunately, supplementing with carnosine itself doesn’t produce the same result (8).
In the body, carnosine works as a buffer.
Note, that the muscles first need energy, through glycolysis, where they break down glucose for energy- especially during high-intensity exercise. Without ample time or oxygen lactate is produced from lactic acid.
Lactate is not the only byproduct of rapid energy production, you also get a surplus of hydrogen ions. These ions make your muscles acidic. This acidity halts the breakdown of glucose and effectively stops your muscle from contracting, we know this as fatigue (9, 10, 11).
As a result, beta alanine supplements assist muscles reduce their acid levels during exercise by increasing carnosine levels in muscles. In turn, supplementing with beta-alanine reduces fatigue.
2Beta-alanine improves athletic performance. We know beta alanine reduces fatigue, but not how much. Studies on athletes exercising to exhaustion show that beta-alanine supplementation significantly increases time to exhaustion.
Specifically, researchers studied cyclists after four weeks of beta-alanine supplementation and found this intervention increased the total work output by 13% (17).
Continuing the study further out to 10 weeks there was still an improvement of 3.2% (18).
For non-athletes, one study performed on 20 men showed a 13-14% increase in their time to exhaustion after 4 weeks of beta-alanine supplementation (19).
3Beta-alanine staves off muscle failure and muscle acidosis (20). The limiting factor for continuing high-intensity activity is generally muscle acidosis. This makes beta alanine the ideal supplement for boosting performance during these types of activities.
This means that for long duration minimal intensity activity, such as running a marathon, or high intensity very short duration activity, like throwing a shotput, beta alanine is not ideal.
The research illustrates that over 6 weeks of beta-alanine supplementation time to exhaustion was increased from 1,168 to 1,387 seconds during high-intensity interval training (21).
A similar study tested 18 rowers over 7 weeks of beta-alanine supplementation. At the end of the intervention the rowers were 4.3 seconds faster than the placebo group in a 2,000-meter race lasting over 6 minutes (22).
Lastly, in older subject’s beta-alanine supplementation is seen to increase muscle endurance (23).
4Beta-alanine increases recovery rate during exercise (24).
This means that not only does beta alanine help to buffer muscle acidosis but it increases the excretion of acidic metabolic byproducts from the body as well (25).
5In resistance training, beta-alanine can boost training volume. Again, beta-alanine works to improve performance when you are primarily using energy created by glycolysis, so when you’re strength training beta alanine reduces fatigue regardless of fatigue (26, 27).
While beta alanine reduces fatigue, it doesn’t increase your strength (28, 29).
6Beta-alanine may improve body composition. The good news is that research shows when supplementing with beta-alanine for only three weeks male subjects saw a significant increase in lean muscle mass (30).
For females, one study with beta-alanine supplementation over 4 weeks lead to a reduction in body fat with an increase in lean muscle mass (31).
The confusing part is that beta-alanine’s body composition effect may be due to an increase in performance because increasing training volume will promote more muscle growth and fat loss.
This is supported by studies that show no difference in body composition after beta-alanine supplementation (32, 33).
7Beta-alanine enhances the immune and cardiovascular system. In animals and in vitro research carnosine is seen to enhance the immune system and work as an antioxidant (34, 35, 36).
Even more than that, carnosine enhances the resiliency of protein structure and functions in the body, providing anti-aging properties (37).
Carnosine is also seen to improve your cardiovascular health by increasing nitric oxide production (38). With increased nitric oxide production markers of increased immune function and anti-aging are increased as well (39).
In the elderly, research shows that increasing carnosine boosts both the quality and the efficiency of muscles (40, 41).
8Beta-alanine is often combined with other supplements for increased benefit. The three main supplements that beta-alanine is combined with include sodium bicarbonate, creatine, and pre-workout supplements.
9Sodium bicarbonate and beta alanine supercharge workout endurance. On its own, baking soda reduces acid in the blood and muscle tissues to boost exercise performance (42). There are benefits gained by combining sodium bicarbonate with beta alanine.
This is mainly due to the synergistic effect of both beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate on buffering muscle acidity (43).
The beneficial effect of this combination increases performance the most in those activities where glycolysis is the dominant source of muscular energy (44).
10Creatine and beta alanine works to provide a different source of energy to muscle tissues. Specifically, creatine increases available ATP, which provides fuel for very short duration high-intensity activity.
When you combine creatine and beta alanine there is a benefit to exercise performance (45). Incidentally, strength and lean muscle mass increase as well (46, 47).
11Pre-workout supplements with beta alanine improve workout capacity, strength gains and lean muscle mass (48). One of those ingredients is often beta alanine, typically 2 to 4 grams.
12Beta-alanine may be beneficial for shorter duration exercises. In general, muscle acidosis limits the duration of high-intensity exercise. For this reason, beta-alanine specifically helps performance during high-intensity and short-duration exercise lasting one to several minutes. One study revealed that six weeks of taking beta-alanine increased TTE by 19% during high-intensity interval training (HIIT) (52).
In another study, 18 rowers who supplemented for seven weeks were 4.3 seconds faster than the placebo group in a 2,000-meter race lasting over 6 minutes (53).
13Beta-alanine may boost brain function while under stress. A 2015 study published in Amino Acids showed that beta-alanine improved cognitive function during a 30-day study of 18 elite soldiers, engaging in combat practice (54).
14Beta-alanine may help fight off aging. Telomeres are strands of DNA that help prevent aging. As you age biologically, the strands get shorter. While yet to be confirmed in humans, decreasing the rate at which your telomeres shrink could have longevity-boosting effects. A 2004 study on beta-alanine showed that carnosine has the ability to lessen telomere shortening, and lowerde the cellular aging rate of cultured-fibroblasts (55).
According to other studies, carnosine from beta-alanine can mimic the action of resveratrol in the body; which is known to improve blood flow over the body and protect the heart. A 2009 study showed that muscle carnosine concentration drops up to 45 percent during the aging process (56).
15Beta-alanine can improve jump performance. A 2008 study published in the International Journal of Sport Medicine showed that athletes were able to complete 22 percent more squats at 70 percent of their one-rep max after taking beta-alanine supplements for 30 days (57).
16Beta-Alanine may help obese and overweight individuals. It may be possible that beta-alanine can help individuals indirectly lose weight since it does not have direct appetite suppressant or thermogenic effects. However, it’s theorized that since it can help you workout longer and harder, you’ll be able to burn more calories and lose more weight.
A 2019 study published in the journal Science & Sports involving overweight women found that there was a significant increase in the exercise capacity of the women taking the beta alanine supplement compared to the placebo group (58).
1Beta-alanine supplementation can induce skin tingles (paraesthesia). Paraesthesia is a unique feeling that most describe as skin tingling.
Paraesthesia is localized to the face, neck, and the hands with the tingling sensation increasing in intensity directly with the dosage of beta-alanine you take. According to most cases of beta-alanine induced paresthesia, symptoms start in doses of over 800 mg (59).
Luckily, symptoms are not permanent and go away in an hour or so after beta-alanine consumption (60). Overall, suffering from paraesthesia as a side effect from beta-alanine supplementation is not harmful or permanent. It will usually subside within 90 minutes of taking beta-alanine.
2Beta-alanine supplementation can reduce taurine levels. Both beta-alanine and taurine use transport proteins to enter your muscle tissue.
With an increase in beta alanine, from supplementation, taurine becomes out-competed and less taurine is taken into the muscle tissue.
This difference can be significant, as seen in animal studies, where supplementing with beta-alanine is seen to lower levels of taurine in the muscle by 50% (61).
Beta-alanine is safe to consume daily. In just 4 weeks of 2 to 5 grams of beta-alanine daily, you’ll see, on average, a 40-60% increase in muscle carnosine levels (62).
To further boost beta alanine absorption, consume your beta alanine with a meal.
Combine beta-alanine with creatine. When used together, beta alanine and creatine elicit a double whammy effect. They have shown to feed off each other’s benefits to increase muscle endurance and power in individuals (63).
Combine beta alanine with baking soda. Research has shown that combining these 2 compounds together reduce acid level build up in the muscles, thus increasing overall performance output (64).
What causes the tingling sensation from beta alanine? The tingling feeling (similar to pins and needles) you may experience when having a pre-workout supplement is often the effects of beta-alanine at work. This tingling feeling is know as acute paresthesia. The feeling is caused because of the effect beta-alanine has on your central nervous system. A 2012 study used some clever research techniques to demonstrate that beta alanine can aggravate this specific type of nerve ending in a unique way (65).
Beta alanine stimulates nerve endings in your skin, but not because it’s causing an allergic reaction. To reduce this itching, spread your beta alanine dosage out over a longer period, and avoid taking more than 800 mg of beta alanine at once.
How many grams of beta-alanine should you take per day? Most clinical studies have found that taking between 3-6 grams of beta-alanine per day over the course of a month can increase carnosine levels by as much as 80%. That’s a massive increase that can benefit bodybuilders and endurance athletes alike.
Is beta alanine the same as BCAA? No, beta alanine and BCAAs are two different products with completely different effects on the body.
Is beta alanine the same as pre-workout? Beta-alanine is often one ingredient found in pre-workout powders because it can provide an acute stimulant response. Many high-quality pre-workout supplements include beta alanine prominently (including all of the pre-workout supplements in our rankings above), but they also include other ingredients like taurine, caffeine, and B complex vitamins. You can definitely use beta alanine by itself as a pre-workout supplement, but you won’t get quite the same boost in performance that you’d get with a dedicated pre-workout supplement.
How long before a workout should you take beta alanine? Taking beta-alanine 30-45 minutes before exercising allows the supplement to enter your system and have an effect. This should continue for between an hour and a half and 2 hours after taking the supplement, depending on activity levels.
Does beta alanine cause acne? Stimulants, such those commonly present in pre-workouts have been known to cause an increase acne in some people but not everyone.
Does beta alanine cause hair loss? There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that beta-alanine causes hair loss.
Does beta alanine break a fast? No, beta alanine will not break your fast as it doesn’t have an insulinogenic response.
Is beta alanine good for building muscle? Creatine is the posterchild for bulk-building supplements, but adding beta-alanineto the mix can help you gain lean muscle, reduce body fat, increase strength, and increase power when compared to just taking creatine alone, according to a study in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.
What beta alanine actually does is increase the levels of a compound called carnosine in your muscles. Carnosine helps buffer the acidity generated when you work out at a very intense effort, which allows you to sustain a hard effort for longer. Because it lets you work out harder for longer, beta alanine might help you build muscle in an indirect way, but unlike something like whey protein isolate, it doesn’t actually stimulate muscular hypertrophy.
How much beta alanine should I take to feel its full effects? If you take a pre-workout supplement, you might already be taking it this way. However, the performance benefits from beta-alanine are based upon raising muscle carnosine concentrations over time. Thus, the time of day you consume beta-alanine isn’t nearly as important as consistently consuming beta-alanine each day.
Is beta alanine legal? Yes, beta alanine is a legal dietary supplement.
Does beta alanine keep you awake? Supplementing with beta-alanine allows for an increase in the amount of carnosine in your muscles. It is recommended to not take any before going to sleep, as the stimulant properties may keep you awake.
Is beta-alanine bad for you? In terms of its safety profile, beta alanine is relatively safe, though in higher doses it does have the tendency to cause paresthesia, an uncomfortable burning, prickling, or flushing feeling on your chest, fingertips or other places on your body. These symptoms only occur in some people, and only occur with doses greater than 800 mg or so (until you build up some tolerance). If you want to mitigate the chance of getting side effects from beta alanine, all you have to do is spread your dosage out over a longer period of time, and keep your intake below 800 mg of beta alanine at any given time.
Does beta alanine increase heart rate? Not, however it is hypothesized that beta-alanine will increase physical working capacity at heart rate threshold, thereby signifying a delay in fatigue.
Do pre workouts raise blood pressure? All stimulants increase your blood pressure. This can be problematic if you already have an underlying high blood pressure issue that you might not be aware of.
Should I take beta alanine before or after my workout? Studies show that beta-alanine allows carnosine levels to reach a peak after 12 weeks, which is then maintained as long as supplementation continues. Taking beta-alanine 30-45 minutes before exercising allows the supplement to enter your system and have an effect.
What is beta alanine used for? Beta-alanine is commonly used by mouth for improving athletic performance and exercise capacity, building lean muscle mass, and improving physical functioning in the elderly.
Does beta alanine give you a pump? Many athletes experience intense vasodilation/pumps from beta-alanine if they take more than 1000 mg at a time. While this may feel good for some, it usually causes most people to stop their reps or sets short because of this “pump” feeling.
Should you cycle beta alanine? There is no research that shows you need to cycle on and off beta alanine. However it is recommend that you use it for a minimum of 3 weeks, since most studies are at minimum 3+ weeks, with dosages between 3.2-4.8 grams. Since these levels fluctuate throughout the day, it is generally regarded as best to consume beta-alanine before you workout, to maximize your carnosine levels going into an intensive muscular workout.
Is beta alanine a vasodilator? Beta alanine is not a vasodilator; however, it may cause vasodilation. This is due to carnosine being a strong precursor to nitric oxide production (a strong vasodilator)
Can I mix beta alanine with creatine? Combining beta alanine and creatine can increase the effectiveness of these supplements. For optimal results, combine 4-6 grams of beta alanine with 6-10 grams of creatine. Creatine is good for building muscle, but it also enhances the performance of your creatine phosphate energy system, which can provide between eight and ten seconds of energy during an all-out effort like a sprint.
Does beta alanine have caffeine? Beta alanine does not naturally contain any caffeine. That being said, it is often combined with caffeine in energy or pre-workout supplements.
Can I take beta alanine on an empty stomach? You can take it with meals or on an empty stomach, whichever works best for you.
Is beta alanine a BCAA? No, beta-alanine is not a BCAA. Beta-alanine is an amino acid found within skeletal muscle. When combined with histidine, it forms the dipeptide carnosine. Beta-alanine is a type of amino acid that isn’t involved in synthesizing proteins (i.e., building muscle). Rather, it is responsible for increasing the buffering capabilities of the body.
Can I mix beta alanine with BCAA? Yes, this combination will help protect muscle tissue during a tough workout, and could help minimize fatigue during training, too.
Does beta alanine cause cramps? Beta alanine does not directly cause cramps. However, taurine is known to prevent muscle cramping, which then means too much intake of beta-alanine could result in insufficient levels of taurine putting you at risk of getting cramps.
Can you take beta alanine twice a day? Yes, in fact the supplementation strategy to maximize the performance effects of beta alanine is to consume a regular chronic dose of 2-3 grams, twice daily.
Can beta alanine cause headaches? There is no scientific research to show the beta-alanine promotes or causes headaches.
What is beta-alanine? While beta alanine is a powerful performance enhancer, it doesn’t actually increase muscle volume. Since beta alanine improves sprint performance, and high-rep lifting performance as well, many people assume that beta alanine must increase muscular strength.
This is a common misconception, though; what beta alanine actually does is increase the levels of a compound called carnosine in your muscles. Carnosine helps buffer the acidity generated when you work out at a very intense effort, which allows you to sustain a hard effort for longer.
Because it lets you work out harder for longer, beta alanine might help you build muscle in an indirect way, but unlike something like whey protein isolate, it doesn’t actually stimulate muscular hypertrophy.
Does beta alanine help with running? Supplementing with beta-alanine has been shown to be safe and effective at improving endurance and decreasing muscle fatigue during exercise.
Does beta alanine affect sleep? Supplementing with beta-alanine allows for an increase in the amount of carnosine in your muscles. It is recommended to not take any before going to sleep, as the stimulant properties may keep you awake.
Is beta-alanine good for weight loss? Beta-alanine primarily works to increase endurance and efficiency of your muscle energy system. Improvements in muscle from beta-alanine has shown the ability to increases strength, endurance, power output, and can even play a role in weight loss.
How long do beta alanine tingles last? Many people wonder where it comes from, that pins and needles sensation on the face, neck, and hands. Some might have the tingles for 30 minutes while others might have them for an hour. The more beta-alanine you take the more the tingling. People taking between 2 and 4.8 grams will definitely feel the effects.
How many times a day should I take beta alanine? Dosing studies demonstrating the benefits of using anywhere between 3.2-6.4 grams of beta-alanine per day, divided into 800-1600mg doses multiple times per day.
Does beta-alanine cause erectile dysfunction? No there is no science to show that beta-alanine causes erectile dysfunction. However, beta-alanine may interact with some heart medications and with drugs for erectile dysfunction.
Beta-alanine works to significantly increase performance by fighting muscle fatigue and boosting your work capacity.
Additionally, beta-alanine provides general health benefits by working as an antioxidant, providing anti-aging relief, and even bolstering the immune system.
While you can consume beta alanine through food, supplements are ideal to obtaining the recommended 2-5 grams daily.
Lastly, while beta-alanine may cause transient tingling in the skin, it is proven to be both safe and effective.