Improving performance can be a constant challenge for athletes who engage in endurance training, such as long-distance running, cycling, or triathlon. The good news is that several nutritional supplements can help improve endurance and stamina, and beta-alanine is one of them. Beta-alanine can help enhance endurance performance by buffering lactic acid buildup and reducing fatigue.
The working mechanism of beta-alanine
When we engage in high-intensity exercise, our muscles produce lactic acid, causing fatigue and reducing exercise performance. Beta-alanine helps buffer lactic acid by increasing muscle carnosine levels, which can improve muscle pH balance and delay the onset of muscle fatigue.
In addition to buffering lactic acid, beta-alanine can enhance endurance performance by improving muscle endurance. Several studies have shown that beta-alanine supplementation can improve time to exhaustion during high-intensity exercises, such as cycling or running.
Beta-alanine supplementation and endurance performance
For example, in a study of 18 cyclists, beta-alanine supplementation for four weeks improved time to exhaustion during a cycling test by 11%. In another study of 26 men, beta-alanine supplementation for 28 days improved muscle endurance during a cycling test.
Beta-alanine supplementation can also improve endurance performance in other types of endurance training, such as long-distance running. In a study of 20 long-distance runners, beta-alanine supplementation for four weeks improved running performance during a 10km time trial by 2.5%. This improvement may seem small, but even a small improvement can make a significant difference in endurance sports.
Another benefit of beta-alanine supplementation is that it can help reduce muscle soreness and damage following intense exercise. When we engage in high-intensity activity, our muscles undergo microscopic damage, leading to muscle soreness and inflammation. Beta-alanine supplementation can help reduce this damage, allowing athletes to recover more quickly and perform better in subsequent workouts.
It’s important to note that beta-alanine supplementation works best when combined with a well-designed endurance training program. Endurance athletes should train consistently, gradually increasing the intensity and duration of their workouts over time. By doing so, they can help improve their endurance and stamina while allowing beta-alanine to work its magic in buffering lactic acid and reducing fatigue.
What is the ideal dosage?
Regarding dosage, most sources of beta-alanine information have suggested 3-6 grams of beta-alanine per day, taken for four to 12 weeks. It’s important to note that beta-alanine supplementation can cause a harmless tingling sensation known as paresthesia. This sensation usually lasts 15-20 minutes after supplementation and can be reduced by spreading the dosage throughout the day or taking it with food.
The bottom line
Beta-alanine is an effective supplement for endurance athletes looking to improve their endurance and stamina. By buffering lactic acid buildup, improving muscle endurance, and reducing muscle soreness, beta-alanine can help athletes perform better in their workouts and competitions. However, it’s important to remember that beta-alanine should be used with a well-designed training program and a balanced diet. Additionally, athletes should consult with a healthcare professional before starting a new supplementation to ensure it is safe.