Can beta-alanine improve your workout and your results? Science says yes. Beta-alanine has been gaining popularity as a performance supplement. It’s an amino acid that our diets don’t typically supply in large quantities. Through its conversion to carnosine in the body, beta-alanine is said to help dissipate waste products, keeping your body working hard during repeated bouts of high intensity exercise.
A recent study from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition studied beta-alanine supplementation for sprinting. The study examined 17 amateur soccer players in two groups. One group received 3 grams per day of beta-alanine for 12 weeks. The other group received a placebo. The study measured performance both before and after the supplementation on repeated bouts of 2x20m shuttle sprints with a very short rest between efforts.
The results are pretty astonishing. After 12 weeks of taking sugar pills, the placebo group actually declined in performance. But after 12 weeks of supplementing with beta-alanine, the beta-alanine group improved sprinting performance by over 20%.
Diving deeper, only 2 of the 8 players in the placebo group improved. All others declined. But 8 out of 9 players in the beta alanine group improved performance, and that remaining player performed exactly the same. Sounds like a slam dunk for beta alanine.
If you are a supreme geek, then you might be interested in knowing that the sprinting test used was the Yo-Yo Intermittent Test Level 2. This is a standardized sprinting protocol used in sports research. You can read more about it here.
Supplements can be confusing and athletes often wonder whether they should take beta-alanine. As a coach, I know I’ve been asked this. The answer: yes. Why? Beta alanine ensures your muscles can get rid of waste products to perform optimally during your next bout of exercise.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.