New data from the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil indicated that a daily beta-alanine dose of 6.4 grams per day produced improvements in high-intensity cycling performance in both trained and non-trained individuals.
The study is said to be the first to directly compare the effects of the ingredient on people with different training levels because previous studies have suggested that an already increased muscle buffering capacity may reduce the effectiveness of beta-alanine in trained athletes.
Forty trained and untrained men participated in the study, and results published in the journal Amino Acids indicated that both groups displayed improvements in physical performance.
Commenting independently on the new study’s findings, Jose Antonio, PhD, CEO of the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), told us: “The recent publication in the journal 'Amino Acids' provides further evidence that beta-alanine is an effective performance enhancing supplement for both trained and untrained individuals.
“Beta-alanine is particularly effective for sports or activities that primarily utilize fast glycolysis or the lactic acid energy system. Sports/activities such as wrestling, the 400 meter dash, repeated sprint bouts, etc would especially be helped.”
The Brazil-based scientists divided the young men into two groups according to whether they were trained or non-trained cyclists. Each group was then randomized to receive either beta-alanine supplements (6.4 grams per day, CarnoSyn from Compound Solutions Inc) or a dextrose-based placebo for four weeks.
Results showed that performance in high-intensity exercise significantly increased following supplementation in both trained and non-trained men. On the other hand, performance was reduced in the non-trained men receiving placebo, and no effects were observed in the trained men receiving placebo.
“Despite the remarkable differences in repeated sprint ability between the trained and non-trained individuals, four weeks of beta-alanine supplementation increased TWD to a similar extent in both groups (non-trained: 2.52%, trained: 3.64%),” wrote the researchers.
“Although improvements in TWD around 3.0 % may suggest only a discrete effect, it is worth noting that TWD in the trained participants was about 11 % higher than in their non-trained counterpart, meaning that 4 weeks of supplementation elicited a performance improvement which represents about one-third of the improvement achieved by several years of training.”
Other studies have reported null effects of beta-alanine supplementation in highly trained individuals, which is in stark contrast to this study’s findings. The researchers noted that the differences may be due to differences in the study protocols used, with other studies using insufficient exercise intensity or other factors.
“It can be concluded that 4 weeks of beta-alanine supplementation improved repeated high-intensity cycling performance in both trained and non-trained participants,” they wrote. “The findings of the present study indicate the efficacy of beta-alanine as an ergogenic aid for high-intensity intermittent exercise regardless of the training status, highlighting that highly trained athletes can benefit from the use of beta-alanine.”
Source: Amino Acids
May 2014, Volume 46, Number 5, Pages 1207-15. doi: 10.1007/s00726-014-1678-2
“Influence of training status on high-intensity intermittent performance in response to beta-alanine supplementation”
Authors V. de Salles Painelli, B. Saunders, C. Sale, R.C. Harris, et al.