SUMMARY: We believe CarnoSyn is a partial scam. Despite the fancy trademark, it is just Beta-Alanine and most brands and consumers would get the exact same benefit while saving cost by going with a non-branded generic Beta-Alanine. While there are studies supporting the benefits of Beta-Alanine, the impact is usually very small. The sole meta study shows only "a median 2.85% increase in muscular endurance". Is it worth your money? Maybe if you are an elite athlete, but for most people you would probably be better of saving your money. If you do buy CarnoSyn, be careful as manufactures are using widely different serving sizes, many of them not even close to being a clinically studied dose and would require multiple servings.
What is CarnoSyn?
CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine is the grandfather of all branded ingredients. Its been on the market so long, its patents have either expired (or interestingly enough, were never valid to start with depending on who you ask, more on that in the patent section).
Beta-alanine has been shown to enhance muscular endurance in studies. Many people report being able to perform one or two additional reps in the gym when training in sets of 8–15 repetitions. Beta-alanine supplementation can also improve cardiovascular exercise performance, like rowing or sprinting (but with a recent study, not swimming).
When beta-alanine is ingested, it turns into another molecule called carnosine, which acts as an acid buffer in the body. Carnosine is stored in cells and released in response to drops in pH that comes from exercise, primarily from exercise-induced lactic acid production.
The Study and Science
Although a newer sports nutrition ingredient, with the first human study published in 2006, beta-alanine as a supplement and used in sports nutrition formulations has expanded into nearly every workout formula on the market.
Unlike a lot of sports nutrition ingredients, there have been several thorough, good studies published on the claims and effects of beta-alanine.
One of the biggest meta-analysis by Trexler et al., (a comprehensive review of all the research published to date) on beta-alanine supplementation was conducted in 2012 and looked at fifteen studies which reported the results of 57 measures within 23 exercise tests, using 18 supplementation regimes and a total of 360 participants.
This analysis used only the best studies and excluded the waker ones. They focused on studies using human participants in placebo controlled, double blinded, randomized trials, that were published in English language peer reviewed journals. Results showed that beta alanine supplementation did improve exercise capacity in tasks lasting 60 to 240 seconds...however...this research only showed a statistically significant improvement of 2.85%.
The meta-analysis suggests a small benefit: a median 2.85% increase in muscular endurance
It should be mentioned that not all research shows a beneficial effect when taking beta-alanine. The most recent study here, showed no improvement for swimmer. The conflicting results might be due to the small numbers of participants in studies or the variability in doses used, duration of supplementation, variable exercise protocol and measurements, and populations studied.
Studies have also shown that it isn't really helpful for muscle growth or workout recovery.
The benefits of beta alanine are small, even when dosed properly, and limited to very specific types of exercise. Is a 2.85% improvement in exercise performance worth spending money on? It depends on your view of the world. For an elite athlete, looking for an edge, sure. But for the team here, no.
The Patent Situation
This has noting to do with CarnoSyn or Beta-Alanine in general but the patent situation around CarnoSyn is very interesting. When CarnoSyn first launched, they were granted a number of patents on the use of Beta-Alanine in sports nutrition. This was so long ago that all the patents have since expired which is why we see larger brands like the list below using the generic (equally effective, just cheaper) Beta-Alanine. However, despite no current patents being valid, the ongoing legal case could set precedent for the future of patents in sports nutrition.
The question at hand is: are natural products or ingredients patentable if they rely on a naturally occurring ingredient? Back in in 2017, lead by a lawsuit from Hi-Tech Pharmaceuticals, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California ruled that NAI’s (the makers of CarnoSyn) claims are not patent eligible, stating that "it is natural law that ingesting beta-alanine will naturally increase carnosine levels in the body and increase anaerobic working capacity". This means you cant patent something that naturally occurs by itself when ingesting a natural ingredient. Recently, on appeal, the courts ruled that in fact you CAN patent this. However, this decision means that the case now goes back again to the lower courts for further examination. While the courts are still deciding the ultimate outcome on this, it is a very interesting case to follow and could have large ramifications for branded ingredient in the future.
Large brands we applaud for saving themselves and customers money by choosing generic Beta-Alanine:
- Glanbia (Optimum Nutrition, BSN, Isopure)
- Iovate (Six Star, MuscleTech, Hydroxycut)
- ProSupps (Mr. Hyde)
Who actually makes CarnoSyn?
In the United States, customs records are public and easily accessible. Looking at the customs records for Natural Alternatives International, Inc., we see them importing Beta-Ananine from a company in Japan called Yasunaga Trade. It appears that NAI does not actually make CarnoSyn themselves but simply imports it.YASUNAGA TRADE, CORECITY NISHIDAI 3CHOME 56-4-410 NISHIDAI ITABASHI-KU TOKYO, JAPAN
BETA ALANINE BETA ALANINE BETA ALANINE BETA ALANINE BETA ALANINE BETA ALANINEBETA-ALANINE BETA-ALANINE BETA-ALANINE HS CODES (902229)
Is CarnoSyn safe?
CarnoSyn and Beta-Alanine has received NDI and GRAS status from the FDA. It has been deemed safe at up to 6.4 grams per day. Studies show that beta alanine is safe in healthy populations at normal doses, for a short time. While it is impossible to say beta-alanine is one hundred percent safe until longer term studies are complete, we do know that up to 12 weeks of continued beta-alanine supplementation has shown to be safe.
What are the side effects of CarnoSyn?
We can find no specific studies on the side effects of CarnoSyn but since it is just Beta-Alanine with a fancy trademark we have highlighted those side effects below.
Generally Beta-Alanine should be safe for healthy individuals. However two side effects can be common. Normal Beta-alanine supplementation can cause paresthesia. This is a uncomfortable but completely harmless tingling of the skin. It is most common to feel the tingling in the face but the feeling has also been reported in the abdomen, chest, and extremities. Paresthesia typically occurs when too great a dose of beta-alanine is taken too quickly and its effects can very widely.
Due to taurine and beta-alanine sharing the same transporter within the body, in animal models, a taurine deficiency was observed with beta-alanine supplementation. One study on rats showed that this deficiency may lead to a an increased chance of alcohol-induced liver fat buildup (which is something taurine would normally protects against). In the animal models, this 3% intake of beta-alanine in water may reduce circulating levels of taurine by 50% to 77% and cardiac levels of taurine by 16.6% to 22.7%.
What is CarnoSyn made of?
CarnoSyn is just Beta-Alanine with a fancy trademark. Nothing more, nothing less. Beta-alanine is a changed version of the normal amino acid alanine.
One of the best tests to gauge substantiation and research is how comfortable do the sports nutrition brands using this ingredient feel making the claims themselves. When buying a branded ingredient, typically a sports nutrition brand will sign a non-disclosure as well as indemnify the ingredient manufacturer, this means the brands hold the branded ingredient manufacturer harmless for any claims they make. With a non-disclosure agreement, the sports nutrition brands “know how the sausage is made” and ultimately they will be responsible and potentially sued for the claims the ingredient allows. If the data substantiating a claim isn’t strong, many wont risk it, although some often will to get ahead in this market. We took and did a break down of the claims of the major CarnoSyn brand partners from Stack3d, Amazon and Walmart. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition review of the mechanisms and use of beta-alanine supplementation, they recommend 4–6 grams daily, linked here. This is slightly higher then the 2-5 grams daily recommended by examine.com here. We are going to be generous and define a clinical dose as 2 grams since some studies used this amount as a minimum but really you should be taking at least 4 grams per day which is the dosage at which most of the benefits are studied. All the studies we looked at had beta-alanine doses ranging from 2.6 to 6.4 g/day. We will also compare the formulations and see who is dosing CarnoSyn correctly and what brands are using a lower, non-clinically substantiated dose.
Make sure you take a clinically studied amount of CarnoSyn, at least 2 grams (even better, make sure you take at least 4 grams daily)!
CarnoSyn in one serving
|C4 Ripped Sport Pre Workout||???||❌|
|Universal Nutrition Shock Therapy||???||❌|
|GAT Sport PMP||???||❌|
|NOW Supplements, L-Carnosine||500 mg||❌|
|PROLAB Beta Alanine Extreme||800 mg||❌|
|Vega Sport Pro Supplements, Beta Alanine||1000 mg||❌|
|MUTANT Madness||1250 mg||❌|
|Bodybuilding Signature Pre Workout||1500 mg||❌|
|Optimum Nutrition Beta-Alanine||1600 mg||❌|
|Evlution Nutrition Beta-Alanine||1600 mg||❌|
|Kaged Muscle Beta-Alanine||1600 mg||❌|
|Thorne Research - Beta Alanine||1600 mg||❌|
|NutraBio Beta Alanine Capsules||1600 mg||❌|
|Kaged Muscle Pre-Kaged||1600 mg||❌|
|Genius Creatine Powder||1600 mg||❌|
|XTEND Elite BCAA Powder||1600 mg||❌|
|Klean Athlete - Klean Beta-Alanine||1600 mg||❌|
|Force Factor Alpha King Fury||1600 mg||❌|
|C4 Original Pre Workout||1600 mg||❌|
|Kaged Muscle IN-KAGED||1600 mg||❌|
|Scivation XTEND Elite BCAA Powder||1600 mg||❌|
|XTEND Elite Pre BCAA||1600 mg||❌|
|Cellucor C4 OTG||1600 mg||❌|
|Performix ION Pre-Workout||1600 mg||❌|
|Evlution Nutrition ENGN Shred||1600 mg||❌|
|RIVALUS Powder Burn||1600 mg||❌|
|Granite GX Pre-Workout||1800 mg||❌|
|NOW Sports Nutrition, Beta-Alanine Pure Powder||2000 mg||✔|
|NutraBio Beta Alanine Powder||2000 mg||✔|
|Man Sports Beta-Alanine||2000 mg||✔|
|Purus Labs Condense||2000 mg||✔|
|Ryse PRE Workout||2000 mg||✔|
|Pre JYM Pre Workout||2000 mg||✔|
|OWN PWR Elite Series Pre Workout||2000 mg||✔|
|Performix SST Pre - Molecular Hydrogen||2000 mg||✔|
|Proven4 preworkout||2400 mg||✔|
|R1 Pre Train||2400 mg||✔|
|MUSCLE FEAST Beta Alanine||2800 mg||✔|
|True Nutrition - Beta-Alanine Powder||3000 mg||✔|
|Nutricost Beta Alanine Powder||3000 mg||✔|
|LUMBERJACKED Pre-Workout||3000 mg||✔|
|Castleberry Nutrition Boom Preworkout||3000 mg||✔|
|GNC Pro Performance Beta-Alanine||3200 mg||✔|
|Beyond Raw Chemistry Labs Beta-Alanine||3200 mg||✔|
|NutraBio PRE Workout V5||3200 mg||✔|
|C4 Ultimate Pre Workout||3200 mg||✔|
|Redcon1 - Beta Alanine||3200 mg||✔|
|Beyond Raw LIT AF||3200 mg||✔|
|Cellucor C4 Ultimate Shred||3200 mg||✔|
|Core Nutritionals Beta Alanine||3200 mg||✔|
|BSN Beta-Alanine||3600 mg||✔|
|Swolverine Beta Alanine||5000 mg||✔|
Cellucor C4 Ripped SportCellucor is the number 1 best selling pre-workout brand in the united states. If you have taken a pre-workout, chances are you are at least familiar with Cellucor. Its extremely disappointing to see Cellucor choose to hide the dose of CarnoSyn behind a "proprietary blend". This is weird because on some products like the Cellucor C4 Ultimate Shred they transparently dose the amount of CarnoSyn. As the best selling brand, Cellucor should strive for transparency and be an industry leader and not hide their ingredient doses.
Vega Sport Pro Supplements, Beta AlanineWe like Vega. They are most famous for their plant based protein products but have recently started branding out into other ingredients. They typically stick to a very simple and clean formulations and their beta alanine is no exception. Unfortunately, this only offers 1000 mg of beta alanine per serving (2 capsules). If you were targeting a 4 mg dose you would end up needing to take 8 pills a day. Very disappointing.
Bodybuilding Signature Pre Workout Powderbodybuilding.com is one of the original and oldest online retailers of sports nutrition supplements. Their pre workout formulation features citrulline, leucine, taurine, caffeine and CarnoSyn. Unfortunately, they only use a low 1.5 gram (1500mg) dosage in a single serving.
Optimum Nutrition Beta-Alanine
Optimum Nutrition is probably the largest sports nutrition brand in the world. Their Beta-Alanine formulation features a low 1.6 grams per serving of CarnoSyn. This is somewhat redeemed by the 75 servings per container, at least you will be able to take two scoops without using up the entire package. Interestingly this products features CarnoSyn while most of their other products use a generic beta alanine.
Evlution Nutrition Beta-AlanineEvlution Nutrition Beta-Alanine features a very clean formulation that has only CarnoSyn Beta-Alanine. Similar to Optimum Nutrition, this has a small 1.6 grams serving size but at least 125 servings in the container for when you are forced to take multiple doses to hit a clinical amount.
Kaged Muscle Pre-KagedWe are big fans of Kaged Muscle. We like the brand and typically like their formulations. Their Pre-Kaged product says it has "the industries largest, most fully dosed scoop" with leucine, citrulline, beatine, creatine, caffeine and CarnoSyn. Despite saying it has the most fully dosed scoop, this only has 1.6 grmas of CarnoSyn.
NutraBio Beta AlanineNutraBio is a newer and rapidly growing brand. We haven't tried their products ourselves. The Beta-Alanine capsules only have a paltry 1.6g of CarnoSyn. Weirdly, their powder features a 2g dose so it seems that they just cut corners a bit on the capsules.
Scivation XTEND Elite BCAA PowderScivation XTEND is one of the largest and most popular brands of BCAA. They have many great formulations and flavors. For their Scivation XTEND elite product they include a number of ingredients but only chose to put in 1.6 grams of CarnoSyn. It would have been great to see a stronger clinical dose in this product.
Performix ION Pre-Workout
We are big fans of Performix. They have innovative formulations, good flavor and tend to have very good branding. Who doesn't love a company that has John Cena as an ambassador. The Performix ION Pre-Workout features a number of great ingredients like caffeine, citruline and beatine but unfortunately only has 1.6 grams of CarnoSyn. Unlike some of the other products highlighted here, this only packs 30 servings as well which wont last very long if you are trying to take a clinical dose.
Evlution Nutrition ENGN ShredEvolution Nutrition was one of the quicker growing companies a few years ago. We haven't heard much from them recently but their ENGN Shred is still a big player in the pre workout space. We don't love seeing some key ingredients like betanine and choline hidden behind a proprietary "mind-to-muscle" martix which obscures their dosage. While CarnoSyn is broken out, it features a lower 1,600 mg.
RIVALUS Powder Burn
RIVALUS is a new brand that has been making inroads at brick and mortar stores like GNC. The RIVALUS Powder Burn claims it is "Safe And Effective FIRST". Unfortunately, you probably have to take a few servings as its going to struggle being effective when it only has 1.6g of CarnoSyn per serving.