Beta-Alanine for Running
Beta-Alanine, a non-essential amino acid, is known as one of the newest supplements highly prized and discussed within the running community. While the properties of beta-alanine still need to be more thoroughly studied, we already have a rough idea of its effects on the body. Can you use beta-alanine for running? And if so, how? Explore with us all the benefits of beta-alanine for runners.
How Does Beta-Alanine Work?
Beta-alanine works by increasing your lactate threshold – that is, the point at which the body depletes its capacity for aerobic energy production and switches to releasing large amounts of lactic acid into the bloodstream. It does this by directly suppressing lactic acid buildup in the body.
A higher lactic threshold means a higher capacity for sustained and more intense cardiovascular activity before succumbing to exhaustion – and if there is anything more highly prized among runners than the ability to last longer while going harder, we want to hear it.
This video illustrates some of the key things to know about beta-alanine’s many benefits, especially as they relate to runners.
Benefits of Taking Beta-Alanine
By allowing you to overcome the body’s fatigue threshold, beta-alanine can quite literally extend your runs to new records and help you cover that extra mile. Especially for long-distance sprints, this can be a lifesaver.
Numerous studies have confirmed that beta-alanine does not just improve endurance overall but also helps increase training volume and physical fatigue resistance.
If you take beta-alanine in conjunction with other ingredients, such as caffeine, it can amplify the acid’s unique benefits further.
Is Beta-Alanine Good for Runners?
While it depends on your discipline, most runners can benefit greatly from using beta-alanine.
The sweet spot here is for events in the range of 400 to 1,500 meters – after that, as the run becomes more and more about cardiovascular endurance, beta-alanine’s effects become less of a unique advantage, though it certainly won’t hurt you either.
However, in those medium-length and short sprints, beta-alanine can really make a night-and-day difference for your running performance. It wouldn’t hurt to try some for your next morning sprint and see the results for yourself!
Beta-Alanine for Marathon Runners
For marathon runners, using beta-alanine for running becomes more complicated.
On the one hand, it would appear that beta-alanine would be relatively unnecessary due to marathon running depending by nature a lot more on consistent, low to mid-intensity exercise rather than quick bursts of higher intensity.
On the other hand, studies have shown that beta-alanine does, in fact, help improve performance across the board in marathon runners. How come?
The secret lies in twitch muscle fibers. Even if marathon runners don’t make use of these nearly as much as short-distance sprinters, these muscle fibers still need to be trained and exercised in order to achieve proper gait, cadence, and consistent speed. And beta-alanine happens to be one of the most effective supplements for promoting effective twitch muscle fiber growth.
So, while beta-alanine won’t help you magically win races, incorporating it into your training routine can indeed make a difference in how your body adapts to this sport.
How Much Beta-Alanine Should I Take?
The healthy amount of beta-alanine that researchers usually recommend falls between 3 and 5 g daily. This should be more than enough to stimulate the production of carnosine, which is the specific agent within beta-alanine that is so effective in extending endurance and warding off fatigue.
Be sure not to take more than 6.5 g of beta-alanine per day on a regular basis, especially if you have not used this supplement before.
We’re big fans of the beta-alanine powder sold by NOW Sports, available in 500-gram bottles.
In a powdered form like this, beta-alanine is extremely easy to add to your daily smoothie or pre-workout drink, and a single bottle can last you for a long time. A great no-nonsense solution!
Alternatively, there is also the beta-alanine powder by BulkSupplements.com. Also coming in at 500 grams per pack, this is a wonderful solution for building strength, adding to your detox regimen, and of course, crushing your performance goals.
Nutricost makes a beta-alanine powder that is perfect for beginners as well. Each bottle contains 300 grams, with 3-gram serving size. This is a bit on the conservative end; however, it’s great for building up a habit and allowing your body to acclimatize to regular beta-alanine use.
You may have noticed a funny side effect when taking beta-alanine supplements for the first time. Yes, we’re talking about that tingling feeling all over your skin. It’s not just you!
In fact, this phenomenon is called paresthesia, and it is perfectly normal. We aren’t quite sure why many people experience it when taking beta-alanine, but it has something to do with the way this amino acid interacts with the proteins in your skin. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that it is harmful or has any negative effects on your health besides being mildly uncomfortable.
If you want to avoid getting paresthesia when you take beta-alanine, it might help to spread out your doses across the day.