Overview – Beta-alanine augments intracellular buffering capacity
– It has potential beneficial effects on sustained high-intensity exercise performance
Mechanism – A rate-limiting precursor to the endogenous intracellular (muscle) buffer, carnosine
– The immediate defence against proton accumulation in the contracting musculature during exercise
– Chronic, daily supplementation of Beta-alanine increases skeletal muscle carnosine content
Protocol of use Daily consumption of ~65 mg/kg BM
– Ingested via a split-dose regimen (ie, 0.8–1.6 g every 3–4 hours) over 10–12 weeks
Performance impact Small, but potentially meaningful performance benefits (~0.2%–3%) during both continuous and intermittent exercise tasks of 30 s to 10 min in duration
Further considerations and potential side effects – A positive correlation between the magnitude of muscle carnosine change and performance benefit remains to be established
– Large interindividual variations in muscle carnosine synthesis have been reported
– The supplement effectiveness appears harder to realise in well-trained athletes
– There is a need for further investigation to establish the practical use in various sport-specific situations
– Possible negative side effects include skin rashes and/or transient paraesthesia

Nutritional Strategies to Modulate Intracellular and Extracellular Buffering Capacity During High-Intensity Exercise – 2015

Lancha Junior, A.H., de Salles Painelli, V., Saunders, B. et al
– Intramuscular acidosis is a contributing factor to fatigue during high-intensity exercise.
– Many nutritional strategies aiming to increase intra- and extracellular buffering capacity have been investigated.
supplementation of beta-alanine (~3–6.4 g/day for 4 weeks or longer), the rate-limiting factor to the intramuscular synthesis of carnosine (i.e. an intracellular buffer), has been shown to result in positive effects on exercise performance in which acidosis is a contributing factor to fatigue.
– paresthesia (i.e. tingling sensation of the skin) is currently the only known side effect associated with beta-alanine supplementation, and it is caused by the acute elevation in plasma beta-alanine concentration after a single dose of beta-alanine.
sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate and sodium/calcium lactate supplementation have been employed in an attempt to increase the extracellular buffering capacity.
– Although all attempts have increased blood bicarbonate concentrations, evidence indicates that sodium bicarbonate (0.3 g/kg body mass) is the most effective in improving high-intensity exercise performance.
– The evidence supporting the ergogenic effects of sodium citrate and lactate remain weak.
– gastrointestinal distress is often associated with the effective doses of sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate and calcium lactate.
Co-supplementation of beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate may result in additive ergogenic gains during high-intensity exercise, although studies are required to investigate this combination in a wide range of sports.

Beta Alanine Supplementation Improves Jumping Power and Affects Severe Intensity Performance in Professional Alpine Skiers – 2014

Gross M, et al. Show all – Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2014 Jun 5. [Epub ahead of print]
– Improved explosive and repeated jump performance in elite alpine skiers.
– Enhanced muscle contractility or increased aerobic energy production could explain improved explosive and repeated jump performance

Influence of training status on high-intensity intermittent performance in response to β-alanine supplementation – 2014

Vitor de Salles Painelli1, Bryan Saunders1, 2, Craig Sale2, Roger Charles Harris3, Marina Yázigi Solis1, Hamilton Roschel1, Bruno Gualano1, Guilherme Giannini Artioli  and Antonio Herbert Lancha Jr
– Highly trained athletes may be less responsive to BA than recreational individuals due to elevated muscle buffering capacity
– 40 young males divided into 2 groups according to training status (trained: T, non-trained: NT cyclists)
– BA or Dextrose-based placebo: NTPL, NTBA, TPL, TBA · BA (6.4 g day(-1)) or PL was ingested for 4 weeks
– 4x30sec lower-body Wingate bouts, rest 3 min, before and after supplementation
(1) Total work done significantly increased following supplementation in both NTBA and TBA
(2) Total work done was significantly reduced in NTPL with no difference for TPL
(3) Increased mean power output (MPO) in bout 4 for NTBA group and in bouts 1, 2 and 4 for the TBA group
(4) No differences were observed in MPO for NTPL and TPL

Beta Alanine Dose for Maintaining Moderately Elevated Muscle Carnosine – 2014

Stegen, Sanne; Bex, Tine; Vervaet, Chris; Vanhee, Lander; Achten, Eric; Derave, Wim
(1) test whether sex and body mass are determinants of BA induced muscle carnosine loading,
(2) the optimal maintenance dose for ensuring constantly elevated muscle carnosine stores.
– Loading phase, 34 men and women, 3.2g (4×800 mg) BA/day for 46 days
– 19 continued taking free-powder BA for 6 more weeks (maintenance phase)
– The participants were matched and re-divided into 3 groups respectively receiving 0.4g BA/day, 0.8g BA/day and 1.2g BA/day
– Sex and body mass do not markedly affect absolute increase during muscle carnosine loading, they are determinants for relative increase
– Maintenance dose = ~1.2g BA/day to keep muscle carnosine content elevated at 30-50% above baseline for a prolonged period

Doubling of Muscle Carnosine Concentration Does Not Improve Laboratory 1hr Cycling Time Trial Performance – 2014

Chung W1, Baguet A, Bex T, Bishop DJ, Derave W
– This study explored whether the ergogenic effect is present for longer duration exercise
– Subjects (27 well-trained cyclists/triathletes) were supplemented with either beta-alanine or placebo (6.4 g/day) for 6wks
– Time to completion and physiological variables for a 1hr cycling time-trial were compared between pre- and post-supplementation
– Supplementation had a very pronounced effect on muscle carnosine concentration and moderate attenuating effect on acidosis associated with lactate accumulation, yet w/o affecting 1hr time-trial performance under lab conditions

Muscle Carnosine Loading by Beta-Alanine Supplementation is more pronounced in Trained vs. Untrained Muscles – 2013

Tine Bex, Weiliang Chung, Audrey Baguet, Sanne Stegen, Jan Stautemas, Eric Achten, Wim Derave
– Compare muscle carnosine loading between trained and untrained arm and leg muscles
– Nonathletes: BA supplementation increased carnosine content by 47% in the arm and 33% in the leg muscles (NS)
– Kayakers: increase was more pronounced in arm (deltoid) vs. leg (soleus + gastrocnemius) muscles (0.089 vs. 0.049), whereas the reverse pattern was observed in cyclists (0.065 vs. 0.084)
(1) Carnosine content can be reliably measured by H-MRS in deltoid muscle
(2) Carnosine loading is equally effective in arm vs. leg muscles of nonathletes
(3) Carnosine loading is more pronounced in trained versus untrained muscles.

Effects of BA supplementation and interval training on physiological determinants of severe exercise performance – 2013

Gross, Boesch, Bolliger, Norman, Gustafsson, Hoppeler, Vogt
– Manipulate physiological determinants of severe exercise performance; Hypothesized:
(1) beta-alanine would increase intramuscular carnosine and buffering capacity and dampen acidosis during severe cycling
(2) high-intensity interval training (HIT) would enhance aerobic energy contribution during severe cycling
(3) HIT preceded by beta-alanine would have greater benefits
– 16 active men did incremental cycling tests and 90sec severe (110% peak power) cycling tests at 3 time points: (1) before and (2) after oral supplementation with either beta-alanine or placebo (3) after 11-day HIT block (9 sessions, 4×4 min), which followed supplementation
– Buffering capacity and incremental cycling were unaffected, but during 90 sec severe cycling, beta-alanine increased aerobic energy contribution (1.4±1.3 %, d=0.5), concurrent with reduced O2 deficit (−5.0±5.0 %, d=0.6) and muscle lactate accumulation (−23±30 %, d=0.9), while having no effect on pH
– Beta-Alanine did not affect buffering considerably, but has beneficial effects on severe exercise metabolism as well as psychological parameters during intense training phases.

Effect of Sodium Bicarbonate and β Alanine on Repeated Sprints during Intermittent Exercise Performed in Hypoxia – 2013

Saunders B1, Sale C, Harris RC, Sunderland C.
– Studied separate and combined effects of sodium bicarbonate and BA on repeated sprints during simulated match play performed in hypoxia
A: 20 recreationally active participants; 2 trials following acute supplementation with either sodium bicarbonate (0.3 g·kg-1BM) or placebo (maltodextrin)
B: 16 recreationally active participants supplemented BA for 5 wks (6.4 g·day-1 for 4 wks, 3.2 g·day-1 for 1 wk), and did 1 trial prior to supplementation (with maltodextrin) and 2 following supplementation (with sodium bicarbonate and maltodextrin)
– 3 sets of 5 x 6 sec repeated sprints performed during football specific intermittent treadmill protocol performed in hypoxia (15.5 % O2)
A: Overall MPO was lower with sodium bicarbonate than placebo although there was no effect across sets
B: There was no effect of BA, or co-supplementation with sodium bicarbonate, on either parameter, although there was a trend towards higher MPO with sodium bicarbonate
(1) The effect of sodium bicarbonate on repeated sprints was equivocal
(2) There was no effect of BA, or co-supplementation with sodium bicarbonate
(3) Individual variation may have contributed to differences in results with sodium bicarbonate, although the lack of an effect with β-alanine suggests this type of exercise may not be influenced by increased buffering capacity

Effect of Beta Alanine With and Without Sodium Bicarbonate on 2,000-m Rowing Performance – 2013

Ruth M. Hobson, Roger C. Harris, Dan Martin, Perry Smith, Ben Macklin, Bruno Gualano, Craig Sale
– examine effect of beta-alanine only and beta-alanine with sodium bicarbonate supplementation on 2,000m rowing
– 20 well-trained rowers (age 23 ± 4 y; ht 1.85 ± 0.08 m; body mass 82.5 ± 8.9 kg) 6.4 g·d for 4 wks)
– 4 conditions (1) placebo +maltodextrin (2) placebo +sodium bicarbonate (3) BA +maltodextrin (4) BA +sodium bicarbonate
(1) Both chronic beta-alanine and acute sodium bicarbonate supplementation alone had positive effects on 2,000m rowing performance
(2) Addition of acute sodium bicarbonate to chronic beta-alanine supplementation may further enhance rowing performance

Effect of βeta alanine supplementation on high-intensity exercise performance – 2013

Harris RC, Stellingwerff T.
– Increased levels of carnosine through β-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.
– β-Alanine supplementation is used by athletes competing in high-intensity track and field, cycling, rowing, swimming events etc.


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