Beta-alanine supplementation may improve power output during leg exercises

If you are a person who works out, here’s a good supplement for you. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggested that beta-alanine supplementation may enhance power output during leg exercises.

A team of researchers from various universities in Spain assessed whether the supplementation of beta-alanine would improve power output, kilograms lifted, and movement velocity during a circuit of leg exercises. (Related: Can Supplementing with Beta Alanine Increase Athletic Performance?)

In conducting the study, the research team recruited 26 healthy, resistance-trained men aged 18 to 25 years. They randomly assigned the participants into two experimental groups: 14 men received a supplementation of beta-alanine 6.4 g per day for five weeks, while 12 men received the placebo. The beta-alanine supplement was taken in eight capsules in order to avoid the main side effect of paresthesia, which is a mild sensation of prickling, numbness, or burning in the skin. Paresthesia occurs when doses of beta-alanine higher than 10 mg/kg are consumed and resolves an hour after intake. Every capsule of the beta-alanine supplement contained 800 mg and was taken at least every one and a half hours and not beyond three hours. On the other hand, the placebo contained the sucrose and was also taken in eight capsules.

All participants underwent a training program for five weeks. There were a total of 15 sessions, with three sessions of around 35 to 60 minutes conducted each week. These sessions comprised of a 15-minute warm-up followed by three leg exercises done as a circuit. The research team gave the participants a number of repetitions for each exercise based on the allotted work time. At the same time, a training observer was present to guide load increases and training volume as the study went on.

Results revealed that the supplementation of beta-alanine for five weeks caused increases in power output, kilograms lifted, and the number of sets done in comparison to the placebo group. The research team explained that the increase in the number of sets executed may be due to the pH regulation capacity of beta-alanine.

“This supplement could have had only an indirect ergogenic effect due to the scarce contribution of glycolytic energy metabolism in the incremental exercise used in our study,” the researchers wrote.

This means that the lifts in the test were “explosive actions” wherein the high-energy phosphagen system was the primary source of energy. The team suggested future studies to look at the effects of consuming both beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate supplements during a strength training program, and potential interactions or synergistic effects of caffeine.

More on beta-alanine

Also referred to as 3-aminopropionic acid, beta-alanine is a natural occurring beta-amino acid. It is also a component of the histidine-dipeptides, carnosine, and anserine, and vitamin B5. Consumers of beta-alanine may experience a caffeine-like response because it is a hybrid between the potent neurotransmitters L-glycine and GABA.

The benefit of beta-alanine supplementation in athletic performance is mostly due to its ability to increase muscle carnosine concentrations. The presence of beta-alanine in the bloodstream is directly linked to muscle carnosine levels. Carnosine is a powerful antioxidant that stimulates muscle contraction enzymes.

Beta-alanine in food

There are certain foods that can increase the concentration of beta-alanine in the body. Some of the greatest sources of beta-alanine are turkey and chicken. The amino acid can also be obtained from lean cuts of beef, especially top loin part. Fish such as yellowtail fish, haddock, herring, mackerel, pink or coho salmon, rainbow trout, rockfish, tilefish, and tuna, are also good sources of beta-alanine. For non-meat eaters, you can get beta-alanine from roasted soybeans.

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