For people who love to exercise, here's another workout supplement for you. A study published in the journal Nutrition Research found that supplementing with beta-alanine can help increase muscle carnosine and relieve fatigue due to exercise.
Beta-alanine is a non-essential amino acid that the body uses to produce carnosine, a natural compound that helps improve exercise performance. Supplementation with beta-alanine leads to increased intramuscular carnosine content, which in turn, improves buffering capacity during intense exercise. Earlier studies have also suggested that beta-alanine supplementation may regulate levels of muscle L-histidine, which works together with beta-alanine to produce carnosine.
For the current study, a team of researchers from the University of Central Florida looked at the effects of beta-alanine supplementation on performance, muscle carnosine, and L-histidine and compared these effects between men and women. The research team hypothesized that supplementing with beta-alanine would result in similar increases in carnosine and performance between men and women and would reduce muscle L-histidine.
To test this hypothesis, they recruited 26 men and women and randomly gave them either beta-alanine or placebo for 28 days. The results showed that beta-alanine supplementation greatly increased muscle carnosine levels and significantly reduced fatigue due to exercise in both men and women. The differences in the changes between men and women were unclear. In addition, the team also found that beta-alanine supplementation did not affect muscle L-histidine levels.
From these findings, the research team concluded that supplementing with beta-alanine can help increase production of muscle carnosine and relieve exercise fatigue, both in men and women.
Ways beta-alanine helps to improve exercise performance
Helping you workout for longer periods at a time: Research has shown that beta-alanine helps increase your time to exhaustion (TTE) or boost your endurance. In one study, researchers have found that cyclists who took the amino acid for four weeks exhibited increased total work completed by 13 percent. An additional 3.2 percent increase occurred after 10 weeks of supplementation. Likewise, another study on 20 men who took a comparable cycling test has shown that these men experienced a 13 to 14 percent increase in their TTE after four weeks of taking beta-alanine.
Boosting performance in high-intensity exercises: Muscle acidosis, in general, restricts the duration of high-intensity exercise. Studies have shown that beta-alanine can help in this matter by improving endurance in high-intensity and short-duration exercises lasting one to several minutes. In one study, researchers have discovered that taking the amino acid for six weeks increased TTE by 19 percent during high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Another study has shown that 18 rowers who took beta-alanine supplements for seven weeks were 4.3 seconds faster than those who took a placebo in a 2,000-meter race lasting over six minutes. (Related: Beta-alanine supplementation may improve power output during leg exercises.)
Increasing muscle endurance: Beta-alanine can also be beneficial to the elderly by helping to increase their muscle endurance.
Enhancing training volume: There is also some evidence that beta-alanine can also enhance training volume and reduce fatigue in resistance training.
Improving body composition: In addition to athletic performance improvements, beta-alanine may also beneficial for body composition. A study has found that supplementing with beta-alanine for three weeks increased lean muscle mass as it helped increase exercise volume, which promotes muscle growth.