Does Beta-Alanine Cause Jitters? Here’s What We’ve Found
You just purchased a brand new supplement that all of the fitness peeps are raving about. After anxiously waiting for your weekly (or daily, we’re not here to judge) Amazon delivery person/BFF to knock on your door, you get that highly anticipated delivery notification on your phone. “Your package is arriving today.” All of the feels, right? It’s basically in the top three text messages you can receive in our humble opinion.
You open the packaging like it’s Christmas day and swoon at your purchase because you cannot wait to try it out. And hey, maybe you've made a habit of reading the back of your supplement’s tub because if we know you, you care about your health, babe.
But as you’re reading, you come to an abrupt stop. What’s this? Beta-Alanine? Huh? Nope, that doesn’t mean it will shy away from the spotlight like the “beta” personalities you know and love. In fact, we think it deserves some serious spotlight because of its benefits and the fact that is often misunderstood.
For starters, beta-alanine can seriously amp up your next sweat session. But with that, it can get a bad rap as it is commonly known to cause a “jittery feeling.” So what’s the deal? Is it safe to consume? We’re going to talk all about just that in this blog post.
Photo by Dana Tentis from Pexels
What is Beta-Alanine and How Does it Work?
In short, beta-alanine is a super popular supplement among fitness enthusiasts, like yourself. Why? Well, because it helps improve exercise performance. That’s exactly why you’ll see it in so many pre-workout supplements, like our Pre-Game Pre-Workout Powder and Stick Packs.
So how does it work? Let’s break it down. Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid and is not used by your body to synthesize proteins. Instead, your body uses beta-alanine (along with something called histidine) to produce carnosine which reduces lactic acid accumulation in your muscles during exercise. Of course, this carnosine is what leads to improved workouts and overall performance during your sweat sessions.
But the thing is, your muscles naturally have high levels of histidine but are lacking in beta-alanine, which in turn, affects the production of carnosine. Still with us? Cool! So, this is why supplementing with beta-alanine elevates carnosine levels. In fact, this study suggests that it can increase carnosine levels by a whopping 80%! Makes sense why we need beta-alanine, right?
Long science-story short, carnosine serves as a buffer against lactic acid, reducing the acidity in your muscles during high-intensity exercise.
Photo by Li Sun from Pexel
Okay let’s get to the good stuff. Beta-alanine can help improve your next gym session by reducing fatigue, increasing endurance and boosting overall performance. More specifically, it helps increase time to exhaustion. This means that it helps you plank, run, jump, lift, etc for longer periods of time.
But wait, there’s more. Beta-alanine can also improve shorter exercises, including high intensity interval training. The thing is, muscle acidosis limits the duration that you can perform high-intensity exercise. This is where beta-alanine steps up to help during long and short bursts of energy lasting one to several minutes.
It can also help reduce fatigue while increasing exercise capacity and muscle endurance. Lastly, carnosine includes antioxidant and immune promoting properties and since beta-alanine plays a part in creating carnosine in the body, we’re totally counting this as an added benefit.
Sources of Beta-Alanine and How to Use It
Where does beta-alanine come from? In its raw form, you can find it in meat, chicken and fish where it is then broken down when digested. While you can technically get sufficient amounts of beta-alanine in your daily diet, supplementation can help raise its levels that much more.
Of course, this is especially true if you’re a vegetarian or vegan. By the way, if you are on a plant-based diet, good news. We’d recommend looking for a plant-based form of beta-alanine because they do exist!
Side Effects of Beta-Alanine
Let’s get to the juicy part of the post, shall we? Maybe you clicked on this blog post because you tried a pre-workout that contained beta-alanine and felt a little jittery afterwards. Tingling face, lips, ears, hands and itchy skin sound familiar?
Don’t fret though because it has nothing to do with allergies, food sensitivities or anything of that nature. The fact is that taking excessive amounts of beta-alanine may cause an unusual sensation described as “tingling of the skin.” This is actually quite common, normal and most importantly, completely harmless. Here’s an in-depth study delving into the harmlessness of paraesthesia (the term for a tingling sensation) if you’d like to read more.
It’s recommended to take beta-alanine with a meal to not only make it more effective, but to help decrease the jittery sensation. In short, beta-alanine gives slight, harmless tingles which may be a strange feeling for people who aren't used to it. As every body reacts differently, perhaps it’s a good idea to ease into the dosage amount and see how you feel. Then reassess.
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
Closing Notes on Beta-Alanine
Skipped all the way to the bottom? Cheeky. Look, the bottom line is this: beta-alanine helps improve athletic performance by increasing exercise capacity and decreasing muscle fatigue. Does it cause that “jittery” or “tingly” feeling? If you take excessive amounts of beta-alanine it may cause tingling in the skin. Rest easy as it has absolutely nothing to do with allergies, food sensitivities or the like. It is considered to be a safe and super effective supplement to improve your workouts in and out of the gym.