Supplementation is becoming increasingly more well established in the worlds of fitness and sport.
Whether it be a physique or physical performance goal, the best results are often achieved with the help of sports supplements.
Beta-alanine is a precursor of carnosine, a molecule that is stored in skeletal muscles with a strong buffering potential. In short, carnosine works to ‘buffer’ or remove the metabolites that build up in your muscle which cause that famous “BURN” or fatigue (most people think it’s lactic acid that builds up, but its actually not, it’s hydrogen ions and other metabolites).
In this study, they examined the effects of beta-alanine supplementation on 17 elite rowers.
First, the subjects were tested at 100m, 500m, 2000m, and 6000m times. After 7-weeks, the subjects were randomly divided into two groups: beta-alanine (8 athletes) or placebo (9 athletes).
During the 7-weeks, subjects were given 5g of beta-alanine or placebo per day administered in five x 1g dose at 2-hour intervals.
Levels of carnosine and performance (time) was measured in order to establish a correlation between the two (i.e. to check it was the BA that helped) and how beta-alanine supplementation affects both.
Carnosine levels in the placebo group remained the same, while levels in the beta-alanine group significantly increased (which shows the supplement worked to increase our stores).
Furthermore, performance time was also significantly better in the beta-alanine group. The 2000m race time improved by 4.3s while the placebo group only improved by 0.3s.
In elite level rowing, this time improvement is huge! Especially since the time between 1st and 2nd can be as little as 0.2s.
The results of this study showed that the most significant difference between the two groups in the 2000m race was between 500m and 1500m, suggesting that a higher level of carnosine allowed the rowers to maintain a high intensity for a longer duration. This finding demonstrates the buffering capability of carnosine in longer duration, high intensity activities.
Supplementation with beta-alanine can help improve performance in high intensity anaerobic activities by delaying the fatiguing effects of acidosis in working muscles. This buffering capability can result in improvements in competition time, or also allow individuals to train longer which results in extra calories burned.
For a bodybuilder, plenty of other studies show improvements in weight training, the amount of reps performed, resistance to fatigue etc. Take 3 grams about 30 minutes before your workout for the full effect!
I recommend a basic BA powder or a pre-workout mix such as MuscleTech Anarchy which has a blend of BA and other great pre-workout ingredients.
Baguet, A., Bourgois, J., Vanhee, L., Achten, E., & Derave, W. (2010). Important role of muscle carnosine in rowing performance. Journal of Applied Physiology, 109(4), 1096-1101.