Earlier this year I started researching legal supplements to assist me in training, specifically on the bike. After a bit of research, I came across beta alanine, an non-residential amino acid that’s recommended by British Cycling. The science is that loading with beta alanine over a period of weeks increases muscle carnosine levels, delaying the onset of muscle fatigue at high intensity.
I duly purchased some beta alanine, followed a loading protocol of 3-4g per day for several weeks and waiting for the results. The result the amount varies is that it comes in a small bag with a tiny scoop, and a slight mismeasurement results in that large variation.
I took the dosage of beta alanine daily, and after the first dose I noticed a slightly unsettling tingling/zinging of my skin, almost like I was about to break out into a sweat. This paresthesia is a common side effect, but took a few days to get used to it. The effect is short-lived, and dropping the dose reduces the side effect.
Over the course of a month, I watched my performance on a turbo trainer increase, and I perceived a drop in how much ‘burn’ I felt in my muscles when exercising near maximal effort. I’ve just finished my first bag of beta alanine (all 100 grams of it), and will be ordering more of it to support my training through till Autumn.
A rising trend?
I’ve been given free samples of bottled energy drinks containing the key ingredients of beta alanine and caffeine. This may be suitable for weightlifting, but would ultimately be a costly endeavour for me to supplement in this way. Additionally, from experience, the 300mg caffeine dosage gives me palmitations and leaves me agitated! However, I wouldn’t be surprised if I see an increase in health food/drink products touting beta alanine as a key ingredient. Would I recommend it? It depends on your goals, training style and your body! If it is safe for you to do consume it, and you exercise near maximal effort regularly, it could be worth introducing beta alanine into your training regime.*
Keep training hard!
*Always seek medical advice before doing anything I suggest!