3 Ways Beta Alanine Can Benefit Endurance Athletes
Since the first published study of beta alanine in 2006, the supplement has exploded onto the market
Beta alanine has become increasingly popular and been heavily researched, with its impact on anaerobic performance being consistent to the point that the International Society of Sports Nutrition released a position paper about its benefits as a supplement (1). This impact on performance has been observed on rowers (2), as well as cyclists (3, 4, 5).
Improve aerobic performance
It is that same impact on anaerobic capacity has led some researchers to assume that beta alanine would not have impact on aerobic performance (1). However, the scientific literature points otherwise - A 2014 meta-analysis (6), concluded that beta-alanine improved exercise capacity, or open endpoint tests to self-determined exhaustion.
Study results continue to point at the benefits of beta alanine on aerobic performance, with a recent study showing that beta alanine supplementation helped recreational runners take almost 4 minutes off of their 10-km time after 23 days of supplementation with regular training (7).
Delay the onset of blood lactate
Blood lactate during incremental exercise has been identified as a good value to predict endurance (8), and the ability of beta alanine to delay the onset of blood lactate is well documented. For example, not only did the 10-km run study show an improvement in performance, but also showed an accompanying decrease in blood lactate post run (7). These changes in blood lactate has also been shown in other studies involving runners, where recreationally active men who were supplemented with beta alanine saw a delay of the onset of blood lactate during an incremental treadmill test (9). Researchers have hypothesized that these changes may be due to an increased efficiency of anaerobic mechanisms (6).
Improved interval training capacity
Likely a staple of any endurance training program, the value of interval training has long been employed by endurance athletes and coaches alike (10). While plenty of literature points to the effects of interval training, a 2009 study out of the University of Oklahoma followed 46 men for six weeks as they took part in interval training on a bike, with half of the subjects taking beta alanine, and the others taking a placebo (11). The researchers found that interval training improved VO2max for all participants, with those taking beta alanine seeing a larger increase after 2-3 weeks of supplementation. It is worth noting that in the previously-mentioned 10-km article (7), the subjects underwent a training program which included interval training. While both the placebo group and the beta alanine supplementation group improved, the beta alanine group’s improvements were much more pronounced.
Continue your reasearch:
1. Trexler et al. (2015): The official position paper of the International Society of Sports Nutrition on Beta Alanine. Beta Alanine is one of the few supplements considered to be both safe and effective by the society. Read the research
2. Baguet et al. (2010): 7 weeks of Beta Alanine supplementation improved 2,000m row time in trained rowers. Read the research
3. Hill et al. (2007): 13 males improved their total work done on a cycling capacity test after 4-10 weeks of Beta Alanine supplementation, vs. a placebo. Read the research
4. Sale et al. (2011): Beta Alanine supplementation increased cycling capacity vs. placebo in 20 men. Read the research
5. Danaher et al. (2014): Beta Alanine increased cycling work capacity after 6 weeks of supplementation. Read the research
6. Quesnele et al. (2014): The Effects of Beta-Alanine Supplementation on Performance: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Read the research
7. Santana et al. (2018): Beta-Alanine Supplementation Improved 10-km Running Time Trial in Physically Active Adults. Read the research
8. Bassett & Howley (2000): Limiting factors for maximum oxygen uptake and determinants of endurance performance. Read the research
9. Jordan et al. (2010): Effect of beta-alanine supplementation on the onset of blood lactate accumulation (OBLA) during treadmill running: Pre/post 2 treatment experimental design. Read the research
10. Laursen et al. (2002): Interval training program optimization in highly trained endurance cyclists. Read the research
11. Smith et al. (2009): Effects of β-alanine supplementation and high-intensity interval training on endurance performance and body composition in men; a double-blind trial. Read the research