It depends. Many people find that one of it’s harmless side effects really helps them have a more intense workout. So, for them, it’s good to take before a workout.
They have to wait a few weeks to see its primary benefit become noticeable.
After reading this article you’ll know why beta alanine works as a pre-workout for some but not others I’ll also tell you about a few other supplements that are great to take before you exercise when you want to boost your energy and intensity.
Here’s a TLDR; (too long don’t read) synopsis of this article.
Many people like to take beta alanine pre-workout because it makes your skin tingle and feel warm. They find it helps get them better prepared mentally and energized for their workout. The main benefits – being able to exercise harder, faster and longer – take 2-4 weeks to be noticeable.
After reading this article you’ll know why beta alanine both is and isn’t a good pre-workout supplement. I also tell you about a few other supplements that are good to take before you exercise.
Why beta alanine is good to take before a workout.
There is a way, that’s not it’s main benefit that can help you feel energized, psyched, and ready for a great workout.
A few minutes after you take beta alanine, it often make you warm and your skin tingly. This side effect is called paresthesia. It’s harmless and only last for about an hour or so.
This mild pins and needles like feeling can be pretty stimulating. Many people say helps you feel psyched and ready to train hard. CrossFit Games champion Matt Fraser is one guy that loves it for this reason.
Here’s some of what Matt said about it on the Joe Rogan podcast.
“Love that stuff. I can’t believe more people don’t take it. I found where I could buy it on my own, not mixed in a pre-workout and kept it in my gym bag, just a scoop before every training session. It makes me feel like I have a third lung. I felt like I had a third lung when I took.”
But, this isn’t beta alanine’s key benefit. This is.
What it really does is help you go longer, harder, and faster during intense and brief workouts. Think 60-90 second intervals on the treadmill. Or going all out jumping rope or swinging battling ropes for a minute on and off for multiple sets.
This requires time to happen and be noticeable.
More specifically, you need to take 6 grams a day for about 3 weeks. Several peer-reviewed studies have proven this as have the thousands of guys and girls like us that take it regularly. One recently published study finds that the longer you take it, the better your results will actually be.
Once your muscles have been filled up, a single 3 gram serving once a day is enough to keep them full and it’s benefits going.
What experts have to say
Since it’s warm and tingly feeling benefits haven’t been studied and proven to improve exercise performance, they feel that’s it’s not worth taking before you exercise.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take it for this reason. If the way it makes you feel works, that’s awesome.
Here’s what the International Society Of Sports Nutritionists have to say. This is from their position paper on beta alanine.
‘It typically takes a number of weeks (at least 2 weeks) for beta-alanine supplementation to yield meaningful increases in muscle carnosine content. As such, it is unlikely that beta-alanine is the primary ingredient improving performance outcomes in studies utilizing acute, one-time supplementation.’
They do have this to say about taking a pre-workout supplement that contains beta alanine every day for a minimum of 4 weeks. Taking pre-workouts every day isn’t something many of us do. I train every day and don’t do that. But, if you do, and the supplement you’re taking contains enough beta alanine (6 grams) it may help. Remember though, it’s helping because of the time you’ve consistently taken it, not because of a single serving.
‘Ingestion of beta-alanine as part of a multi-ingredient pre-workout product may be effective, if the supplementation period is sufficient to increase carnosine levels and the product is taken for at least 4 weeks.’
Which Type Of Workouts Does Beta Alanine Help?
You’ll see the biggest benefit from beta alanine when you’re exercising about as hard as you can, doing sets that last about 1-4 minutes.
Some examples are:
- 200-400 meter runs and intervals
- HIIT interval workouts
- Every minute on the minute EMOM workouts.
- As many reps/rounds as possible (AMRAP) circuits.
If you’re more focused on doing workouts with intense but shorter sets, beta alanine isn’t going to be of much benefit. Strength training where your focus is building strength and/or muscle size is a good example.
Here you’re doing sets of 10 or less reps the majority of the time. These sets typically last less than a minute. creatine monohydrate is a better choice.
Make Sure You Buy The Best Beta Alanine
When choosing a beta alanine supplement, make sure of a couple of things to get the best results.
- That it has at least 3 grams of beta alanine in every serving.
- The supplement you buy must use the Carnosyn brand of beta alanine, which over a dozen studies shows works best.
- A single bottle must have enough servings to last 30 days.
At Stayfitcentral.com, our favorite beta alanine supplement is Nutrakey Beta Alanine powder. It doesn’t just meet these standards, but totally exceeds the criteria I list above.
Here are the key benefits. You can learn more about it by reading our review.
- 3 grams beta alanine per scoop. Competing products contain 1 gram or less.
- Uses Carnosyn beta alanine, the same found to be effective in several clinical studies.
- 100 servings per container. This will last you at least 2 months.
- Plain flavor. Drink with water, in a protein shake, etc.
- It’s micronized into a fine powder so it mixes easily with a spoon and stays dissolved until it’s gone.
Which Pre-Workout Supplements Do Work?
Now that you know about taking beta alanine pre-workout, I want to talk about supplements that are give you the energy boost you want.
Whether you get it from coffee, a pre-workout supplement, energy drink, or diet Mountain Dew it’ll give your workout a huge boost.
Studies show caffeine can help your workouts by:
- Giving you more physical and mental energy.
- Increasing your physical energy so you can do more sets and reps.
- Tapping into your stored body fat for energy.
- Increasing your strength to help you lift more weight and do that extra rep.
If you want to get the most benefit from caffeine make sure you use it sparingly since its benefits tend to diminish when you take it regularly.
This is one of the most underutilized pre-workout supplements.
MCT increases your workout energy and intensity by increasing levels of compounds called ketones in your bloodstream.
These ketones are quickly used for energy and not stored as body fat. Your brain especially likes them. By giving your brain ketones for energy you get a few benefits that can help you have a better workout.
- Your focus on every set and rep will be higher.
- You’ll not get mentally fatigued as quickly.
The supplement I take is MCT Edge. One tablespoon is usually enough to see results. Start slow with this supplement as too large a dose at first can cause an upset stomach. Take ½-1 teaspoon the first couple times you take it. Having a little food with it helps prevent this. Slowly increase by ½ teaspoon per serving until you reach a tablespoon.
Do I still recommend beta alanine, even though it’s not a great pre-workout supplement? Of course I do. After creatine monohydrate I think it’s one of the best sports supplements on the market for enabling us to train and compete harder, longer. You just need to make sure you take it the right way to benefit.
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- Saunders B, DE Salles Painelli V, DE Oliveira LF, DA Eira Silva V, DA Silva RP, Riani L, Franchi M, Gonçalves LS, Harris RC, Roschel H, Artioli GG, Sale C, Gualano B. Twenty-four Weeks of β-Alanine Supplementation on Carnosine Content, Related Genes, and Exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2017 May;49(5):896-906.
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