A group of researchers did a meta-analysis of human-based studies of Beta-Alanine (BA) supplementation and the effects on the aerobic endurance training zone (60-100% VO2max). The study was the first of its kind, given that most studies on BA are looking at short-duration performance. Overall, the study confirmed a marginal gain from BA supplementation that may impact elite or competitive athletes competing in the aerobic endurance zone.
This study is unique to what we do at Triple Victor as we have recommended BA supplementation to both power and endurance-based athletes. This study confirms that athletes competing at events up to the IRONMAN distance may see marginal performance gains. This study does not show the potential gains for those competing at ultra-distance events where intensity is below 60% of VO2max. Given that ultra-distance athletes will train at levels above 60% VO2max, they may recognize overall performance benefits.
As with all legal supplements, BA supplementation benefits are marginal to the point of being considered statistically insignificant by BA the researchers. However, as the researchers point out, insignificant positive gains are often the difference between being on the podium and not being on the podium for competitive athletes. Team Sky has dominated the cycling world by maintaining a mantra of ‘marginal gains.’
Given that BA supplementation’s overall goal is to increase muscle carnosine levels to buffer hydrogen ions that cause muscle fatigue, athletes may see greater gains by pairing BA with sodium bicarbonate, caffeine, or creatine. However, each athlete must do individual testing to see which protocol works best for them given the unique variables such as diet (vegetations have lower levels of carnosine) and sex (males have higher levels of carnosine) have direct impacts on carnosine levels and thus benefits from BA supplementation.
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