Beta-alanine is an amino acid that is naturally occurring, meaning it is produced in our bodies. It is a popular supplement for athletes and bodybuilders. Beta-alanine supplementation has been shown to increase a compound in the muscles known as carnosine, which helps to delay fatigue and muscle failure. Increased carnosine has also been shown to improve short-term high intensity exercise performance (one or two minutes in length). One potential application of beta-alanine supplementation would be to improve final sprint performance at the end of a longer event, as often success in such events depends on that final burst of effort.
There were two experimental cycling sessions interspersed with 8 weeks of supplementation with 2.4g/day beta-alanine or placebo. Before and after supplementation, participants performed a 10-minute time trial as well as a 30-second isokinetic sprint in post-race conditions. Blood lactate levels were measured, as well as power output.
The results revealed that the time trial power output was similar (300 watts) in both the supplemented and placebo groups, and blood lactate levels were also similar. However, peak power was 11.4% higher in the group supplemented with beta-alanine as compared to controls, and average power increased by 5%. The results led the researchers to conclude that beta-alanine supplementation does in fact improve sprint performance after a long endurance event.