Beta-alanine is one of the two amino acids (histidine being the other) that make up the protein carnosine. Carnosine is found throughout the body, but specifically in skeletal muscle. Research shows that skeletal muscle carnosine levels are correlated with performance during high-intensity exercise (Suzuki, 2002); higher carnosine levels lead to better performance. Beta-Alanine availability is the limiting factor in muscle carnosine synthesis (Hill, 2007).
Carnosine is an important metabolic buffer in skeletal muscle (Suzuki, 2002), which means it helps maintain the acid-base balance in the presence of high H+(hydrogen ion) concentrations. H+is a byproduct of energy metabolism and lactic acid production, which causes a burning sensation in yours muscles when you workout (such as during high-rep leg extensions). During exercise H+levels increase, which causes fatigue and decreases performance. If one could keep H+levels down during exercise they could delay fatigue and increase performance; this can be accomplished with Beta-alanine supplementation.
More and more research is emerging that shows Beta-Alanine to be a very effective performance enhancer. We will now look at the findings from five recent studies examining Beta-Alanine and human exercise performance.