Introduction: β-alanine (BAl) and NaHCO3 (SB) ingestion may provide performance benefits by enhancing concentrations of their respective physiochemical buffer counterparts, muscle carnosine and blood bicarbonate, counteracting acidosis during intense exercise. This study examined the effect of BAl and SB co-supplementation as an ergogenic strategy during high-intensity exercise.
Methods: Eight healthy males ingested either BAl (4.8 g day(-1) for 4 weeks, increased to 6.4 g day(-1) for 2 weeks) or placebo (Pl) (CaCO3) for 6 weeks, in a crossover design (6-week washout between supplements). After each chronic supplementation period participants performed two trials, each consisting of two intense exercise tests performed over consecutive days. Trials were separated by 1 week and consisted of a repeated sprint ability (RSA) test and cycling capacity test at 110 % Wmax (CCT110 %). Placebo (Pl) or SB (300 mg kgbw(-1)) was ingested prior to exercise in a crossover design to creating four supplement conditions (BAl-Pl, BAl-SB, Pl-Pl, Pl-SB).
Results: Carnosine increased in the gastrocnemius (n = 5) (p = 0.03) and soleus (n = 5) (p = 0.02) following BAl supplementation, and Pl-SB and BAl-SB ingestion elevated blood HCO3 (-) concentrations (p < 0.01). Although buffering capacity was elevated following both BAl and SB ingestion, performance improvement was only observed with BAl-Pl and BAl-SB increasing time to exhaustion of the CCT110 % test 14 and 16 %, respectively, compared to Pl-Pl (p < 0.01).
Conclusion: Supplementation of BAl and SB elevated buffering potential by increasing muscle carnosine and blood bicarbonate levels, respectively. BAl ingestion improved performance during the CCT110 %, with no aggregating effect of SB supplementation (p > 0.05). Performance was not different between treatments during the RSA test.