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Top Food Sources of Beta-Alanine for Your Diet

Beta-alanine is an amino acid that helps boost athletic performance and build lean muscle. You can get beta-alanine from certain foods, especially meats like beef, pork and poultry. Supplements are also a convenient way to increase your beta-alanine intake.

Beta-alanine has become a popular supplement among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. That’s because it has been shown to enhance exercise performance and support overall health.

But you don’t necessarily need to take a supplement to get more beta-alanine in your diet.

Meat and Poultry Are Top Sources

The best food sources of beta-alanine are animal-based proteins. Meat, poultry and fish contain high levels of carnosine and anserine, natural compounds that release beta-alanine when digested. Some of the richest sources include:

  • Beef: 1500-2000 mcg per gram
  • Pork: 2400 mcg per gram
  • Poultry: 700 mcg per gram, with higher amounts in white meat
  • Fish

Beef, in particular, is an excellent source. A 6 oz serving of beef provides about half the typical daily dose of beta-alanine used to boost athletic performance. Pork and poultry are also very superb sources that can help you meet your needs.

Amounts in Plant Foods Are Minimal

In contrast, beta-alanine is found only in very little amounts in plant foods. Vegetarians and vegans may have about 50% less carnosine in their muscles compared to omnivores. So those avoiding meat may want to consider a beta-alanine supplement to optimize their levels.

Supplements Offer Convenience

Taking a beta-alanine supplement is a more reliable way to get an effective dose compared to food sources alone. The standard dose to enhance exercise performance is 2-5 grams per day.

To get that amount from food, you’d need to eat 2 lbs of chicken, 2.5 lbs of beef, or 3.4 lbs of pork per day! So for many people, a supplement offers a more realistic and convenient approach.

Timing and Form Matter

When taking a beta-alanine supplement, the timing and form can affect its benefits. Splitting your daily dose into several littleer servings helps reduce side effects like skin tingling. Taking it with a meal also enhances absorption.

Sustained-release formulas can also improve tolerance. And beta-alanine has synergistic effects when combined with other performance supplements like creatine and sodium bicarbonate.

Dosage and Safety

For general health and fitness, a dose of 2-3 grams of beta-alanine per day is sufficient. Higher doses of 4-6 grams daily may offer additional benefits for intensive athletic training.

Beta-alanine is considered safe and well-tolerated. The most common side effect is a harmless tingling sensation called paresthesia. This can be minimized by using divided doses as noted above.

Key Takeaways

  • Beef, pork, poultry and fish are the best food sources of beta-alanine
  • Plant foods contain only trace amounts of beta-alanine
  • Supplements are the most convenient way to get an effective dose
  • Splitting doses with meals and using sustained-release formulas enhances results
  • 2-5 grams per day is safe and effective for boosting performance

The Bottom Line

Getting sufficient beta-alanine, either from food or supplements, can help you get the most out of your fitness routine. Eating meat and fish regularly is a superb way to increase your intake. But for many people, taking a supplement offers a effortlessr way to get a beneficial dose.

As with any supplement, it’s a superb idea to check with your doctor first to make sure it’s right for you.

References

  1. Yeum KJ, Orioli M, Regazzoni L, et al. Profiling histidine dipeptides in plasma and urine after ingesting beef, chicken or chicken broth in humans. Amino Acids. 2010;38(3):847-858.
  2. Jones AM. Influence of dietary nitrate on the physiological determinants of exercise performance: a critical review. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2014;39(9):1019-1028.

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