The investigation, published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, looked at whether beta-alanine supplementation would improve power output, kilograms lifted, and movement velocity during a circuit of leg exercise tests.
They found that five weeks of supplementation with 6.4 g per day of beta-alanine led to increases in power output, kilograms lifted, and number of sets executed compared to a placebo group.
Study participants and supplementation
Twenty-six healthy, resistance-trained men aged 18 to 25 years completed the study. They were randomly assigned to the two experimental groups—14 completed the study taking beta-alanine while 12 completed it with the placebo.
The researchers packaged and prepared the capsules containing the supplement or placebo. Beta-alanine dosage of 6.4 g in eight capsules was determined by looking at previous studies on the ingredient. Each capsule contained 800 mg, taken at least 1.5 hours apart and no longer than 3 hours apart.
Participants in the placebo group took the same amount of capsules containing sucrose. Only one of the authors was responsible for supplying the participants with the corresponding bottles of capsules.
“The reason for the eight daily capsules was to avoid the main side effect of paresthesia,” the authors wrote in their report. “Paresthesia is a mild sensation of prickling, numbness or burning in the skin that appears when doses of beta-alanine greater than 10 mg per kg are taken and resolves one hour after intake.”
To test the researchers’ hypothesis that beta-alanine supplementation would improve power output, kilograms lifted, movement velocity, and lower average power losses, they created a five-week long training program for all participants.
Three sessions were conducted per week—totaling 15 sessions—around 35 to 60 minutes. These sessions consisted of a 15 minute warm up followed by three leg exercises done as a circuit.
Participants were given a number of repetitions for each exercise according to the allocated work time. In addition, a training observer guided load increases (kilograms lifted) and training volume (length or rest periods between exercises, number of repetitions within the time frame) as the study progressed.
Results and significance
“The main finding of the present study was a significant improvement produced in average power at one-repetition maximum in response to a five-week training program in the group of subjects who took 6.4 g/day of BA throughout the course of training,” the authors wrote.
The results also confirmed a secondary hypothesis, as the beta-alanine group accomplished a greater training load and more kilograms lifted, while no velocity differences were recorded between the groups.
“The increase produced in the number of sets completed in the BA group may be related to the pH regulation capacity of beta-alanine,” they wrote.
“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. In other words, the lifts in the test were classed as explosive actions in which energy is mainly provided by the high-energy phosphagen system.”
The researchers recommended future studies to examine the effects of taking both beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate supplements during a strength training program, as well as possible interactions or synergistic effects of caffeine.
Source: Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
Published online, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-018-0224-0
Authors: José Luis Maté-Muñoz, et al.