The rationale behind Beta Alanines rise in popularity is based on well substantiated evidence that beta-alanine supplementation is able to increase intramuscular L-carnosine concentrations, with beta alanine combining with muscle L-histidine(1). Carnosine is of particular importance for high-intensity exercise performance, given that it can act as an intracellular buffer to Hydrogen (2). During moderate to high-intensity exercise, hydrogen ions (H+) begin to accumulate leading to a drop in intramuscular pH and ultimately influencing muscle performance (3). Essentially, increased carnosine levels may help the muscle ‘buffer’ or withstand the fatigue more effectively.
Who uses Beta Alanine?
Increased levels of carnosine through beta-alanine supplementation have been shown to increase exercise capacity and performance of several types, particularly where the high-intensity exercise range is 1-4 min. Beta-alanine supplementation is used by athletes competing in high-intensity track and field, cycling, rowing, swimming events and other competitions (4)(5), as well as helping to enhance training adaptions in these sports (3)(6). A study by Van Thienen and colleagues investigated the effect of beta-alanine supplementation on sprint performance after a 110 minutes simulated road race. They found that beta-alanine supplementation increased peak power output by 11.4%, with mean power output increased by 5%. They concluded that beta-alanine can significantly enhance sprint performance at the end of an exhaustive endurance exercise bout (7).Improvements in exercise have been shown at doses ranging from 3.2 - 6.4 g per day for 4 – 12 weeks (4)(5). This has been shown to increase carnosine levels by up to 80% (3).
Research has also suggested that when beta alanine is taken in combination with a meal (e.g a pre-exercise meal), this can improve efficiency of oral beta-alanine supplementation toward muscle carnosine loading (1).
Beta-alanine is a popular component of ‘pre-workout’ supplements, but it is the accumulative effect of beta-alanine that helps increase muscle carnosine stores. For optimal use, consume 3.2g per day, even during non-training days.
- Blancquaert, L., Everaert, I., & Derave, W. (2015). Beta-alanine supplementation, muscle carnosine and exercise performance. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care, 18(1), 63-70.
- Hobson R. M., Saunders, B., Ball, G. (2012). Effects of b-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis. Amino Acids 2012; 43:25–37.
- Culbertson, J. Y., Kreider, R. B., Greenwood, M., & Cooke, M. (2010). Effects of beta-alanine on muscle carnosine and exercise performance: a review of the current literature. Nutrients, 2(1), 75-98.
- Hill, C. A., Harris, R. C., Kim, H. J. (2007). Influence of beta-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity. Amino acids, 32(2), 225-233.
- Saunders, B., Elliott-Sale, K., Artioli, G. G., Swinton, P. A., Dolan, E., Roschel, H., ... & Gualano, B. (2016). β-alanine supplementation to improve exercise capacity and performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 51, 626-627
- Hoffman, J., Ratamess, N., Kang, J., Mangine, G., Faigenbaum, A., & Stout, J. (2006). Effect of creatine and ß-alanine supplementation on performance and endocrine responses in strength/power athletes. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 16(4), 430-446.
- Van Thienen, R., Van Proeyen, K., Eynde, B. V., Puype, J., Lefere, T., & Hespel, P. (2009). β-alanine improves sprint performance in endurance cycling. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 41(4), 898-903.
TED MUNSON (PERFORMANCE NUTRITIONIST)
Ted is a Performance Nutritionist here at Science in Sport.