β-alanine elevates muscle carnosine levels, where increased muscle carnosine promotes greater exercise performance by buffering skeletal muscle acidity during intense exercise. A recent study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise sought to determine whether there is a ceiling for carnosine accumulation in skeletal muscle following long-term (24-weeks) β-alanine supplementation. The authors also questioned whether the expected increases in muscle carnosine would correlate with changes in exercise performance.
What they found was that taking 6.4 g of β-alanine daily increased muscle carnosine at all time points up to 20-weeks, at which time elevated muscle carnosine stabilized at around 2x the concentration measured at baseline. Most importantly, this research provided the first evidence illustrating that the more muscle carnosine you have stored, the greater your exercise performance, as measured by time to exhaustion during high intensity cycling exercise. Notably, those who received the placebo saw no change in muscle carnosine and no improvements in exercise performance.
ACTION POINT: You can reap the benefits of β-alanine with as little as 1.6 grams per day, however it will take much longer for muscle carnosine levels to peak. For best results, we recommend taking 2-3 g of β-alanine 30 minutes before training and again immediately after training.
Saunders B, Painelli VS, Oliveira LF, Silva VD, Silva RP, Riani L, Franchi M, Gonçalves LS, Harris RC, Roschel H, Artioli GG, Sale C, Gualano B. Twenty-four Weeks β-alanine Supplementation on Carnosine Content, Related Genes, and Exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016 Dec 6.