In the supplement industry’s on-going quest to help (legally) enhance the performance of athletes, research continues to affirm the efficacy of beta (β)-alanine.
This non-essential amino acid is the only naturally-occurring beta-amino acid andit serves as a building block of carnosine, a dipeptide that helps to buffer the effect of exercise metabolites that build-up during physical exertion and can limit performance.
As supplementing with beta-alanine has been clinically proven to boost muscle carnosine levels – a 2010 study published in the journal Nutrients found that taking 800mg of beta-alanine multiple times a day elevated muscle carnosine levels by as much as 66 percent – it can delay muscular fatigue and thereby improve workout performance. These properties have led to a steady rise in the use of beta-alanine in a variety of supplements, most notably pre-workout formulas and intra-workout drinks.
One study that affirms beta-alanine’s position atop the pile of ergogenic supplements includes a study published in 2006 in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, which tested maximum bench press and squat power (Wingate anaerobic power test, 20-jump test), and body composition.
When researchers combined creatine and beta-alanine, the two supplements had an extremely synergistic effect of enhancing workout performance by supporting increased muscle contractile strength and power output, while simultaneously increasing muscular endurance. This enabled participants to do more reps and increased their workload in each subsequent session. The researchers concluded that “Creatine plus beta-alanine supplementation appeared to have the greatest effect on lean tissue accruement and body fat composition.”
In another study, this one published in the European Journal of Experimental Biology, non-athletes who took beta-alanine supplements for eight weeks while adhering to a training programme that followed a pyramid structure, saw a significant increase in muscle growth.
Whether this was a direct result of beta-alanine aiding in muscle growth or the indirect effect of an increase in exercise capacity wasn’t clear, but the effect occurred nonetheless, adding yet further evidence in support of the use of this ergogenic compound.