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Effects of beta-alanine supplementation and interval training on physiological determinants of severe exercise performance

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2013
Author Gross Micah A., Boesch Chris, Bolliger Christine Sandra, Norman Barbara, Gustafsson Thomas, Hoppeler Hans H., Vogt Michael,
Project Multi-nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and imaging (MRI) on a clinical whole-body MR-system: insulin resistance, ageing, and physical activity
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal European Journal of Applied Physiology
Page(s) 1 - 14
Title of proceedings European Journal of Applied Physiology
DOI 10.1007/s00421-013-2767-8


Introduction: We aimed to manipulate physiological determinants of severe exercise performance. We hypothesized that (1) beta-alanine supplementation would increase intramuscular carnosine and buffering capacity and dampen acidosis during severe cycling, (2) that high-intensity interval training (HIT) would enhance aerobic energy contribution during severe cycling, and (3) that HIT preceded by beta-alanine supplementation would have greater benefits. Methods: Sixteen active men performed incremental cycling tests and 90-s severe (110 % peak power) cycling tests at three time points: before and after oral supplementation with either beta-alanine or placebo, and after an 11-days HIT block (9 sessions, 4 × 4 min), which followed supplementation. Carnosine was assessed via MR spectroscopy. Energy contribution during 90-s severe cycling was estimated from the O2 deficit. Biopsies from m. vastus lateralis were taken before and after the test. Results: Beta-alanine increased leg muscle carnosine (32 ± 13 %, d = 3.1). Buffering capacity and incremental cycling were unaffected, but during 90-s severe cycling, beta-alanine increased aerobic energy contribution (1.4 ± 1.3 %, d = 0.5), concurrent with reduced O2 deficit (-5.0 ± 5.0 %, d = 0.6) and muscle lactate accumulation (-23 ± 30 %, d = 0.9), while having no effect on pH. Beta-alanine also enhanced motivation and perceived state during the HIT block. There were no between-group differences in adaptations to the training block, namely increased buffering capacity (+7.9 ± 11.9 %, p = 0.04, d = 0.6, n = 14) and glycogen storage (+30 ± 47 %, p = 0.04, d = 0.5, n = 16). Conclusions: Beta-alanine did not affect buffering considerably, but has beneficial effects on severe exercise metabolism as well as psychological parameters during intense training phases. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.