Myths Debunked

Take extra histidine along with beta-alanine since histidine is a component of carnosine

This is false, as histidine is already present in high concentrations in muscle, while beta-alanine is only present only in small amounts. Researchers have determined that it is beta-alanine that drives carnosine synthesis, not histidine. Since this has been proven repeatedly in research, there is no need to supplement with extra histidine to increase carnosine levels. There are potentially some select populations like vegans, vegetarians or the elderly that may not get enough histidine in their diets and are thus deficient, which may compromise optimal carnosine levels. But, we still don’t recommend taking just extra histidine with beta-alanine. Instead, we recommend these groups and simply bump up their total protein intake which will in turn solve their possible histidine deficiency. For the majority of healthy people, only beta-alanine is needed as histidine deficiency is rare and no extra supplementation is needed to increase carnosine concentrations.

Beta-Alanine buffers lactic acid

No, beta-alanine buffers H+, not lactic acid. It is the H+ that are released from our energy systems, AS WELL as being released from lactic acid that causes muscular fatigue and performance problems. It is not lactic acid itself, or the leftover lactate ions as many incorrectly believe

If I don’t feel the prickling, beta alanine isn’t working on me.

The prickling sensation does not occur at all in some individuals, even when taking 4-6 grams of beta-alanine at one time. Do not worry if you are in this group. The prickling is NOT a sign that beta-alanine is working or being absorbed by your muscles and converted to carnosine. If you are feeling nothing, you need not be concerned as it is still increasing your carnosine stores as research has repeatedly shown.

A good example of this phenomenon is when combining carbohydrates with beta-alanine. Not only do carbohydrates blunt much of the prickling sensations, they also increase beta-alanine’s performance gains faster than beta-alanine without carbohydrates.

Another good example is comparing studies that measure carnosine concentrations using multiple small 800 mg doses of beta-alanine vs. studies using multiple doses of 1.6 g of beta-alanine. The total daily amount of beta-alanine ingested is similar and the duration of the studies using both dosage strategies is matched up as well. 800 mg is low enough to cause little to no prickling, based off feedback from both research and anecdotal, where as 1.6 g can cause quite a lot. The outcome of both studies showed carnosine concentrations were very similar.

Taking taurine at the same time as beta-alanine is going to stop beta-alanine from working

While it may seem that there is potential for problems when taking these two together (they share the same transporter into tissues), it hasn’t yet been supported in the research to any level of significance. In fact, a recent study, showed that the increase in muscle carnosine with beta-alanine was not reduced when taurine was taken along with it.

Just in case you wanted more proof to support recent research. Since there is a group of studies that used either beta-alanine by itself or beta-alanine with taurine, we examined them to determine if there were any differences in the resulting carnosine concentrations. While more research is always needed, there are quite a few beta-alanine vs. beta-alanine plus taurine studies, and their outcomes are all the same. There is little to no difference in carnosine concentrations. In other words, taurine does not appear to inhibit beta-alanine from being absorbed to any level of significance, otherwise carnosine levels would have been lower in the beta-alanine plus taurine studies. Another key point to mention is that carnosine is much higher in type II muscle fibers, while taurine is much more concentrated in type I muscle fibers, even further lessoning potential competitive uptake.

Beta-alanine replaces creatine

Beta-alanine does not replace creatine. As shown above, they work differently and creatine is still effective for maximizing strength and power and more effective than beta-alanine in the lower rep ranges. If anything, they should be taken together as the ultimate one-two punch.