Beta Alanine, as you may already know, is a very popular supplement amongst bodybuilders and other fitness enthusiasts. This is due to the widespread reports of many users claiming that when supplementing with beta alanine they can work out for longer periods of time and do so more intensely. This is because the supplement turns into an acid buffer known as carnosine once ingested which in turn is stored up in cells and released to help correct pH drops in the body causing less lactic acid to build up during exercise.
Now, if you’re looking to build bigger muscles and build them faster, I bet you’re thinking that beta alanine sounds like a real godsend. This is almost definitely the case, but before diving headlong into adding this supplement to your pre-workout stack, you should know that there are a few beta alanine side effects.
Beta Alanine is generally taken in a somewhat large dose compared to many other supplements, this does not mean that you should just eyeball your dosage though. This is because acute doses can cause a non-serious, but strange or possibly uncomfortable felling known as paresthesia. While there’s no permanent harm associated with this condition, it can last upwards of 60-90 minutes and produces a tingling sensation, often likened to being pricked with pins and needles.
Oddly enough, this side effect is not a clean cut negative, some users actually try to cause paresthesia to occur. The reason being is that it keeps them alert and actually causes some people to feel more energetic. This could be likened to a large boost of energy that comes with a chance of a jittery, restless feeling, but one that will eventually subside without the kind of crash caused by something like caffeine. For users that can deal with the tingling sensation that paresthesia causes, the benefits can sometimes outweigh the cons.
There is also a chance that this condition can cause a flushed, itching, or burning feeling around the ears or on the scalp. Again, this is just temporary but can cause obvious discomfort.
Don’t stress too hard over this, however, beta alanine tingling sensations can be pretty easily avoided with some simple precautions.
Handling the Side Effects
The first thing that I can recommend may just seem like common sense, but it’s amazing how effective that it is at limiting the beta alanine tingling effects. By starting with a smaller dosage, around 800-1200mg, the chances of paresthesia occurring are greatly reduced. Normally a higher dose than this is recommended on the label, but easing into supplements is often a better idea than just starting at the high end of the spectrum or even the suggested low end. This gives the body time to acclimate and often lets you completely avoid side effects.
Another suggestion that will help you avoid beta alanine side effects is to supplement during or after a meal. While it may be more effective and work faster when taken on an empty stomach, this also makes it more likely for paresthesia to occur. Normally users will only take beta alanine on an empty stomach to intensify the effects of the stimulant response produced by it, but if you’re using beta alanine for its performance enhancing properties then it’s not nearly as important for a quick response. This is because every dose compounds with the previous dose’s concentrations of carnosine.
Of course, if you do decide to seek out the effects of paresthesia as a motivator, both of these rules of thumbs can be reversed. Taking a larger dose on an empty stomach will most likely be enough to trigger the condition which will last for over an hour.
Regardless of whether or not you are seeking out paresthesia, it’s important to remember that it won’t last, so if you find it too uncomfortable, it doesn’t mean anything is wrong and it will only last for around an hour or so.