beta-Alanine supplementation augments muscle carnosine content and attenuates fatigue during repeated isokinetic contraction bouts in trained sprinters.

University of Chichester, Chichester, England, United Kingdom
Journal of Applied Physiology (Impact Factor: 3.43). 12/2007; 103(5):1736-43. DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00397.2007
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Carnosine (beta-alanyl-l-histidine) is present in high concentrations in human skeletal muscle. The ingestion of beta-alanine, the rate-limiting precursor of carnosine, has been shown to elevate the muscle carnosine content. We aimed to investigate, using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (proton MRS), whether oral supplementation with beta-alanine during 4 wk would elevate the calf muscle carnosine content and affect exercise performance in 400-m sprint-trained competitive athletes. Fifteen male athletes participated in a placebo-controlled, double-blind study and were supplemented orally for 4 wk with either 4.8 g/day beta-alanine or placebo. Muscle carnosine concentration was quantified in soleus and gastrocnemius by proton MRS. Performance was evaluated by isokinetic testing during five bouts of 30 maximal voluntary knee extensions, by endurance during isometric contraction at 45% maximal voluntary contraction, and by the indoor 400-m running time. beta-Alanine supplementation significantly increased the carnosine content in both the soleus (+47%) and gastrocnemius (+37%). In placebo, carnosine remained stable in soleus, while a small and significant increase of +16% occurred in gastrocnemius. Dynamic knee extension torque during the fourth and fifth bout was significantly improved with beta-alanine but not with placebo. Isometric endurance and 400-m race time were not affected by treatment. In conclusion, 1) proton MRS can be used to noninvasively quantify human muscle carnosine content; 2) muscle carnosine is increased by oral beta-alanine supplementation in sprint-trained athletes; 3) carnosine loading slightly but significantly attenuated fatigue in repeated bouts of exhaustive dynamic contractions; and 4) the increase in muscle carnosine did not improve isometric endurance or 400-m race time.

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    ABSTRACT: The use of dietary supplements in sports is widespread as athletes are continuously searching for strategies to increase performance at the highest level. Beta-alanine is such a supplement that became increasingly popular during the past years. This review examines the available evidence regarding the optimization of supplementation, the link between beta-alanine and exercise performance and the underlying ergogenic mechanism. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that chronic beta-alanine supplementation can augment intramuscular carnosine content. Yet, the factors that determine the loading process, as well as the mechanism by which this has an ergogenic effect, are still debated. On the basis of its biochemical properties, several functions are ascribed to carnosine, of which intramuscular pH buffer and calcium regulator are the most cited ones. In addition, carnosine has antiglycation and antioxidant properties, suggesting it could have a therapeutic potential. On the basis of the millimolar presence of carnosine in mammalian muscles, it must play a critical role in skeletal muscle physiology. The recent number of studies shows that this is related to an improved exercise homeostasis and excitation-contraction coupling. Recent developments have led to the optimization of the beta-alanine supplementation strategies to elevate muscle carnosine content, which are helpful in its application in sports and to potential future therapeutic applications.
    Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care 01/2015; 18(1):63-70. DOI:10.1097/MCO.0000000000000127 · 3.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: β-alanine is a common ingredient in supplements consumed by athletes. Indeed, athletes may believe that the β-alanine induced paresthesia, experienced shortly after ingestion, is associated with its ergogenic effect despite no scientific mechanism supporting this notion. The present study examined changes in cycling performance under conditions of β-alanine induced paresthesia. Eight competitive cyclists (VO2max = 61.8 ± 4.2 mL·kg·min−1) performed three practices, one baseline and four experimental trials. The experimental trials comprised a 1-km cycling time trial under four conditions with varying information (i.e., athlete informed β-alanine or placebo) and supplement content (athlete received β-alanine or placebo) delivered to the cyclist: informed β-alanine/received β-alanine, informed placebo/received β-alanine, informed β-alanine/received placebo and informed placebo/received placebo. Questionnaires were undertaken exploring the cyclists’ experience of the effects of the experimental conditions. A possibly likely increase in mean power was associated with conditions in which β-alanine was administered (±95% CL: 2.2% ± 4.0%), but these results were inconclusive for performance enhancement (p = 0.32, effect size = 0.18, smallest worthwhile change = 56% beneficial). A possibly harmful effect was observed when cyclists were correctly informed that they had ingested a placebo (–1.0% ± 1.9%). Questionnaire data suggested that β-alanine ingestion resulted in evident sensory side effects and six cyclists reported placebo effects. Acute ingestion of β-alanine is not associated with improved 1-km TT performance in competitive cyclists. These findings are in contrast to the athlete’s “belief” as cyclists reported improved energy and the ability to sustain a higher power output under conditions of β-alanine induced paresthesia.
    European Journal of Sport Science 01/2015; Epub. DOI:10.1080/17461391.2015.1005696 · 1.31 Impact Factor


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