Beta alanine is one of the more popular sports supplements on the market. It is a non-proteinogenic, non-essential amino acid that along with amino acid histidine, makes up carnosine. Carnosine acts as a buffer within the cell, going some way toward neutralising the effect of the acid that accumulates during exercise and causes fatigue. Beta alanine is very well researched substance, and many studies have shown that supplementation is able to increase exercise capacity, particularly in high intensity exercise.
It is believed by some people that as the body becomes more conditioned to exercise, the intrinsic buffering capacity of the muscle cells increases, causing supplements such as beta alanine to exert a much weaker protective effect in well trained athletes than in people who are less conditioned.
A group of researchers from Brazil recently decided to put an end to this controversy with a small study. Forty men were selected to take part, divided into trained and untrained groups dependent on their levels of muscle conditioning, and assessed on their high intensity cycling performance. Half of each group was then randomly assigned either a placebo, or a beta alanine supplement. Study participants adhered to their dosage regime for four weeks before the cycling performance was re-tested.
Both the trained and untrained groups taking beta alanine showed an increase in total power output while the groups receiving the placebo did not, agreeing with the wealth of work which has already been done on this subject. While the non-athletes on beta alanine showed an increase in power output on their last bout of the sequential cycling test, indicating an increase in endurance, the trained athletes showed improvement on the first, second and last tests, showing that beta alanine improved endurance as well as overall power in this group.
This study well and truly debunks the myth that beta alanine supplementation loses effectiveness in trained athletes. Beta alanine is a safe, well studied supplement with few side effects, that is proven to work for people at all levels of training. It doesn't look like it's going to fall out of favour any time soon!
de Salles Painelli V, Saunders B, Sale C, Harris RC, Solis MY, Roschel H, GualanoB, Artioli GG, Lancha Jr AH. Influence of training status on high-intensity intermittent performance inresponse to β-alanine supplementation. Amino Acids. 2014 Feb 6.