Beta Alanine – Cycling Supplements For Performance
Cyclists looking to improve their strength and endurance have routinely turned to a supplement known as beta alanine (ß-alanine). This substance has proven effective in building strength and improving power output, and also in improving anaerobic and aerobic endurance, which it does by moderating hydrogen ion accumulation. Beta alanine manages this by preventing the lowering of muscle blood pH, whilst also stopping the occurrence of acidosis. The latter is achieved due to the supplement being able to raise the levels of carnosine in the muscles. This all sounds great, albeit a little complicated to the layman, but the question now is whether there is any research out there to back up these claims.
A brief look at beta alanine cycling research
From what we have discovered, the research regarding beta alanine has proven to be very positive indeed. The Hobson et al. analysis of beta alanine studies took into account how people performed whilst cycling, and concluded that those taking the supplement reached 110& of max capacity, which was, on average, an almost 12% improvement better than the performance of the placebo group. Of particular note in this research was how well the test subjects using the beta alanine performed in the 1 to 4-minute ranges. The use of the supplement would prove to be effective in short steep climbs and track racing, and areas where short bursts of power are required.
The Smith et al. research showed that beta alanine was also useful when going beyond the 4-minute mark. Specifically, it was found that the beta alanine cycling group took more than 90 seconds more to reach the exhaustion point when compared to the placebo group in a 20-minute ride. They were also able to ride faster than the placebo group during the same test. It’s worth noting that the time improvement was 4.3 seconds, which is not insignificant, as the test subjects were all athletes deemed as well-trained. The results of this test may not be as dramatic as those in the 1 to 4-minute range, but they are impressive, nonetheless.
So, what exactly does all of this mean? Let’s break it down:
1. Muscle carnosine levels are improved, creating a pH buffer that can stop acidosis.
2. Cycling performance, especially in the 1-4-minute exercise range, is improved. Results are also decent with exercises lasting more than 4 minutes, although more research needs to be done in regards extended time exercises.
3. Delayed neuromuscular fatigue improves time to exhaustion.
4. When taken in healthy doses, beta alanine is relatively side effect free, with tingling being the only issue reported. That issue goes away over time.
5. Contains antioxidant and immune boosting properties.
Proper dosing of beta alanine for cyclists
Every research article cites different dosages of the beta alanine supplement, but the standard seems to be 2g doses up to 4 times daily for a maximum of 8g. This dosage taken over a 2-week period will see muscle carnosine levels improve by about 20-30%. The best results seem to come when following this schedule for 4-6 weeks, with improvement moving up to 40-60% over the baseline levels. We were unable to find studies that showed the effects beyond 6 weeks, but the consensus seems to be that no ill effects will come from extending the schedule, and that levels can be maintained with as little as 2-3g per day.
It’s safe to say that beta alanine can indeed boost your cycling performance.
Following the recommended dosages outlined above should help you see solid improvements in power and speed, whilst also reducing neuromuscular fatigue. Keep in mind that the best results seem to come with exercises in the 1-4-minute range. As noted, there appears to be no major side effects when taking the beta alanine supplement, even when continuing to use it beyond a 6-week schedule.
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Learn more about Beta Alanine as a cycling supplement over at Wikipedia