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-Alanine Supplementation for Athletic Performance: An Update

Bellinger, Phillip M.

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research:
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000000327
Brief Review
Abstract

Abstract: Bellinger, PM. β-alanine supplementation for athletic performance: An update. J Strength Cond Res 28(6): 1751–1770, 2014—β-alanine supplementation has become a common practice among competitive athletes participating in a range of different sports. Although the mechanism by which chronic β-alanine supplementation could have an ergogenic effect is widely debated, the popular view is that β-alanine supplementation augments intramuscular carnosine content, leading to an increase in muscle buffer capacity, a delay in the onset of muscular fatigue, and a facilitated recovery during repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise. β-alanine supplementation appears to be most effective for exercise tasks that rely heavily on ATP synthesis from anaerobic glycolysis. However, research investigating its efficacy as an ergogenic aid remains equivocal, making it difficult to draw conclusions as to its effectiveness for training and competition. The aim of this review was to update, summarize, and critically evaluate the findings associated with β-alanine supplementation and exercise performance with the most recent research available to allow the development of practical recommendations for coaches and athletes. A critical review of the literature reveals that when significant ergogenic effects have been found, they have been generally shown in untrained individuals performing exercise bouts under laboratory conditions. The body of scientific data available concerning highly trained athletes performing single competition-like exercise tasks indicates that this type of population receives modest but potentially worthwhile performance benefits from β-alanine supplementation. Recent data indicate that athletes may not only be using β-alanine supplementation to enhance sports performance but also as a training aid to augment bouts of high-intensity training. β-alanine supplementation has also been shown to increase resistance training performance and training volume in team-sport athletes, which may allow for greater overload and superior adaptations compared with training alone. The ergogenic potential of β-alanine supplementation for elite athletes performing repeated high-intensity exercise bouts, either during training or during competition in sports which require repeated maximal efforts (e.g., rugby and soccer), needs scientific confirmation.

Author Information

School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

Address correspondence to Phillip M. Bellinger, p.bellinger@griffith.edu.au.

Copyright © 2014 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.