Muscle contains a substance called carnosine, which acts to buffer acid and as a result may act to allow muscles to contract longer and harder. Beta-alanine is the rate-limiting component in the synthesis of carnosine levels in muscles. This means that beta-alanine consumption is necessary to maximize carnosine content in the muscle.
Researchers from the United Kingdom had healthy men supplement for four weeks with either 6.4 grams of beta-alanine per day or a placebo. Before and after supplementation, the men performed a cycling test to exhaustion at an intensity that caused them to fatigue in about two minutes.
Results showed that four weeks of beta-alanine supplementation allowed subjects to exercise for a longer period of time. Four weeks of beta-alanine supplementation increased performance by 15%, and ingesting sodium bicarbonate before an exercise challenge improved performance beyond that of beta-alanine, indicating a potential added effect. The effect of bicarbonate was found not to be significant but the authors noted that there was a 70% probability of a potential positive effect.
Dominick Walsh is a blogger for Performance Nutrition and TMRzoo.com and covers all men’s health topics and exercise issues including protein powders, diets, weight loss, weight lifting supplements, fat burners and supplement reviews. Dominick’s columns cover everything you need to know about your pre, during and post workout nutrition.