Dr. Dwayne Jackson

The Vital Science Blog

Starting Living Your Best

Beta-Alanine has been inducted into the “supplement hall of fame”

We all have our favorite supplements, which tend to be the ones that work best for us. However, generally speaking, the ultimate test for supplement efficacy is years of substantiated published and undisputed evidence proving its benefits. Beta-alanine is one such supplement! 

Recently, the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutriton published a sports nutrition position stand about beta-alanine. In this article, 14 of the top supplement scientists, from research institutes across the globe, chimed in on the research proven effectiveness of beta-alanine. These scientists collectively reported the following ACTION POINTS regarding beta-alanine as a world-class sports supplement: 

  1. Beta-alanine supplementation is safe
  2. Four weeks of beta-alanine supplementation (4-6 g/day) significantly boosts muscle carnosine concentrations, which serve to buffer increases in acidity in exercising muscle. 
  3. The only substantiated side effect of high dose beta-alanine supplementation is a tingling sensation in the skin (called paraesthesia). Paraesthesia can be avoided by dividing your daily dose into 3 or 4 smaller doses (no more than 1.6 g each) and take them throughout the day.
  4. Daily beta-alanine supplementation (4-6 g/day) for at least 2 to 4 weeks improves exercise performance, especially when exertion lasts between 1 and 4 minutes.
  5. Beta-alanine becomes more effective when stacked with other supplements (like creatine). This synergy is not immediately apparent and generally becomes noticeable after 4 weeks of consistent supplementation.


Trexler ET, Smith-Ryan AE, Stout JR, Hoffman JR, Wilborn CD, Sale C, Kreider RB, Jäger R, Earnest CP, Bannock L, Campbell B, Kalman D, Ziegenfuss TN, Antonio J. International society of sports nutrition position stand: Beta-Alanine. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Jul 15;12:30.


Viral protection from Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola rosea is a potent herbal adaptogen, which increases the body’s ability to handle stress and fatigue. However, beyond this, studies report that Rhodiola rosea contains active compounds with antimicrobial potential.


Recently published in Frontiers in Nutrition, scientists from Appalachian State University (Boone, NC, USA) tested the antiviral and antibacterial activity of Rhodiola rosea in the blood samples of experienced marathon runners following supplementation. Subjects were randomly divided into two groups, where they either received Rhodiola rosea (600mg/day) or a placebo for 1 month prior to competing in a marathon, the day of the race, and for a week after. Blood samples were collected the day before the race, and at 15 minutes and 90 minutes post-marathon. Blood serum was then tested for antiviral and antibacterial activity in vitro. Although Rhodiola rosea did not induce antibacterial properties, it exerted significant antiviral effects post-marathon. 


ACTION POINT: We are all susceptible to viruses, especially in the winter and during times of heavy training—taking Rhodiola rosea may protect you from catching a nasty cold. This means more time competing and less time at the doctor’s office! For antiviral protection take 300-500 mg of Rhodiola rosea twice per day before breakfast and dinner. The most potent products contain standardized active rosavins and salidrosides in a 3:1 ratio. 



Ahmed M, Henson DA, Sanderson MC, Nieman DC, Zubeldia JM, Shanely RA. Rhodiola rosea Exerts Antiviral Activity in Athletes Following a Competitive Marathon Race. Front Nutr. 2015 Jul 31;2:24. 



HMB is an active anabolic compound found in skeletal muscle, which is also formed through the breakdown of leucine. Although it is generally marketed as a muscle and strength builder, the latest research suggests that HMB supplements may be suited for those undergoing high intensity/extended duration training and competition events like CrossFit. 


In a most recent publication in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, elite rowers (undergoing a heavy training program) who took HMB for 12 weeks had decreased fat mass (over 2 lbs), where there was a slight increase in fat mass in the placebo group. Most pertinent, athletes who took HMB saw a 4% increase in VO2 max (a measure of aerobic exercise capacity) and significant increases in peak power output during exercise testing, where such changes were absent in the placebo group. Such elevations in exercise performance are surprising, considering the subjects were already performing at an elite level. 


ACTION POINT: In the past, HMB was prescribed for those just beginning a workout program. However, over the past few years HMB has made a comeback when used at high enough doses and with high intensity training programs. We recommend taking 3 to 6 grams of HMB with a protein shake, 2 to 3 times per day. Make sure one dose is taken 30 minutes preworkout.



Durkalec-Michalski K, Jeszka J. The efficacy of a β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate supplementation on physical capacity, body composition and biochemical markers in elite rowers: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015 Jul 30;12:31. 


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