Beta-alanine can improve the sprint performance in recreational and trained athletes. Researchers from Brazil and England discovered that after given beta-alanine for four weeks to 20 recreational and 19 well-trained athletes.
Beta-alanine is the only building material which can increase the amount of carnosine. Carnosine neutralizes the acid H + ions formation during intense exercise in the muscles. In order to raise the concentration of carnosine, it is not convenient to ingest the agent itself, because the gastro-intestinal system immediately breaks it down. By ingesting beta-alanine it is possible to allow an increase of the concentration of carnosine. The question if thereby the buffer capacity of the body increases and also the performance is so far not clear. There is evidence that well-trained athletes do not benefit from taking beta-alanine because by training they would have increased concentrations of carnosine. The fact that there is still no consensus on the effects of beta-alanine does not restrain many athletes to take these supplements. Researchers from Brazil and Britain have added a new study in the discussion on the effect of beta-alanine in well-trained athletes.
WELL TRAINED ATHLETE VS RECREATIONAL ATHLETES
20 recreational athletes who trained 1-3 times per week participated in this study and 19 well-trained cyclists who cycled an average of about 250 kilometers per week. For 4 weeks 10 athletes from both groups were given 6.4 grams of beta-alanine per day, divided into eight capsules of 800 mg. The other athletes were given placebo pills during the same period.
Before and after the supplemental period all the athletes performed a Wingate test. During this test the athletes did 4 times a sprint of 30 seconds on a bicycle ergometer with a resistance that was related to the body weight of the cyclists. Between the sprints athletes had a passive rest period of 3 minutes.
Before the supplementation period, the total amount of work done during the four sprints was equal for the placebo group and the total beta-alanine group, so regardless of training. After the supplementation period both beta-alanine groups performed more work than the placebo groups. Within the beta alanine groups both recreational and trained athletes performed better than before the supplementation period (2.5% and 3.6%). It was found that 9 out of 10 well-trained athletes and 8 out of 10 recreational athletes performed better after taking beta-alanine.
The results of this study show that taking beta-alanine for 4 weeks can improve sprint performance of both recreational and trained athletes. However, this is not a definitive answer to the question whether also elite athletes will perform better after beta-alanine. For that end the training status of the athletes studied was too low. Despite the fact that the amount of carnosine was not measured in the muscle in this study, on the basis of the results, it is quite likely that the results are caused by beta-alanine