Trained cyclists who take beta-alanine daily for 4 weeks do not always improve their performance. Australian research shows that they do not perform better during a 1, 4 or 10 km time trial but they do in a maximal exercise test of about 3 minutes.
Many athletes ingest beta-alanine to improve their performance. Beta-alanine buffers the H + ions or protons released from hydrolysis of ATP, and thus limit the “acidification” during intense exertion. Although much research has been done into whether the intake of beta-alanine leads to better performance, as for so far no clear answer has been given to this question. Sometimes, a positive effect can be found, and sometimes there is no effect at all. Bellinger and Minahan examined whether the duration of the exertion has influence on the effect of beta-alanine on performance.
A total of 14 well-trained cyclists averaging 25 years and an average VO2max of 65 ml / kg.min took part in this study. All participants had performed multiple tests. They were spread over several days, a 1, 4 and 10 km time trial riding on a bicycle ergometer. Finally, they did a maximal excerise test where they had to cycle at 120% of the power that they had performed on a maximimal test. Participants were then randomly divided into a group that received 4 weeks 6,4 grams of beta-alanine per day or in a group that took a placebo. After these 4 weeks, the different tests were repeated. Among other things, the persevering time and lactic acid concentration were determined.
The two groups performed similar during all tests prior to taking the supplements. The taking of beta-alanine was found to have no effect on the time trial performance. Both the placebo group and the beta-alanine group did an average of 1:09 respectively 5:59 and 15:34 minutes on the 1, 4 and 10 km time trial. After the intake of beta-alanine, however, the cyclists were able to cycle longer during the persevering test, 3:30 minutes vs. 3:14 minutes. The concentration of lactic acid did not differ, not even once, between the groups in the various tests.
Researchers assume that the probability of a positive effect of beta-alanine is greatest at an intensive effort which takes 1 to 6 minutes. On the basis of this study it looks like that the duration of the exertion is of influence on the effect of beta-alanine. Given a positive effect during a short, intensive effort, it might be good to try out the use of beta-alanine in a training period. The usual dose is an intake of 6 x 800 mg per day for 5-6 weeks. Note that higher doses may result in unpleasant physical symptoms as tingling in the face, especially around the mouth and in the fingers.