β-Alanine Supplementation and its Effect on Sports Performance
Majid Koozehchian, Kinesiology; Gina Mabrey, Kinesiology
8:45-8:55am | Houston Cole Library, 11th Floor
β-alanine is a commonly used supplement within the realm of athletics. Although it is produced in the human liver and found in poultry and meats, supplementation in higher amounts appears to affect athletic performance positively. Immediate effects on performance are believed to be increased resistance to fatigue and, potentially, increased force production. Carnosine is a dipeptide molecule composed of L-histidine and β-alanine. β-alanine acts as the rate limiter for carnosine production. Intramuscular carnosine is a diffusible Ca2+/H+ exchanger at the sarcomere, auguring skeletal muscle force production. Carnosine is more readily available with an increased presence of β-alanine via supplementation. During high-intensity exercise, intramuscular H+ ions accumulate, and carnosine binds. Thus, carnosine acts as a pH buffer, attenuating muscular fatigue. Additionally, the increased binding of carnosine and H+ induces Ca2+ unloading at the sarcomere, increasing cross-bridge formation and, thus, force production.
In order to understand the function of β-alanine concerning muscle fatigue and performance, β-alanine has been evaluated in various sports conditions. During anaerobic activity, it is found that β-alanine is effective at reducing muscular fatigue by attenuating the onset of muscular acidosis. Bouts of exercise ranging from 60-240s saw significant improvements in anaerobic endurance. Acidosis is not a limiting factor in activity lasting less than the 60s, so it is not relevant to β-alanine supplementation. Additionally, β-alanine supplementation significantly improves aerobic endurance in activity over 4 minutes. This athletic performance improvement was not limited to open-end tasks or the continuation of an exercise until failure. In closed-end tasks, participants of the testing group in certain studies saw a decrease in time to completion, while the placebo group saw no improvement.
The findings for beta alanine’s influence on strength output are much more mixed than those for endurance. Most studies find insignificant changes in 1RM maximal effort strength across multiple movements, such as the barbell back squat or bench press. However, β-alanine supplementation improved resistance to fatigue and achievable total exercise volume. β -alanine supplementation is also associated with minor improvements in resistance to neuromuscular fatigue, consistent with previous contradictory results. However, more prolonged supplementation and an older population benefit more than younger people or supplements for shorter durations.
In all areas, supplementing β-alanine appears to aid in athletic performance in those that consume β-alanine daily for a minimum of 4 weeks. Supplementing for longer improves the athletics performance effects. Overall, β-alanine is a safe and effective supplement for most populations at appropriate doses regarding athletic performance. The only known side effect is paraesthesia (tingling feeling), but studies find that this can be mitigated by lowering the dosage.
student research, kinesiology
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Bernhardt, Will, "β-Alanine Supplementation and its Effect on Sports Performance" (2023). JSU Student Symposium 2023. 1.