The varying results reported in response to β-alanine supplementation may be related to the duration and nature of the exercise protocol employed. We investigated the effects of β-alanine supplementation on a wide range of cycling performance tests in order to produce a clear concise set of criteria for its efficacy. Fourteen trained cyclists (Age = 24.8 ± 6.7 years; VO2max = 65.4 ± 10.2 mL·kg·min(-1)) participated in this placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Prior to supplementation, subjects completed two (familiarization and baseline) supramaximal cycling bouts until exhaustion (120% pre-supplementation VO2max) and two 1-, 4- and 10-km cycling time trial (TT). Subjects then supplemented orally for 4 weeks with 6.4 g/d placebo or β-alanine and repeated the battery of performance tests. Blood lactate was measured pre-exercise, post-exercise and 5 min post-exercise. β-alanine supplementation elicited significant increases in time to exhaustion (TTE) (17.6 ± 11.5 s; p = 0.013, effect compared with placebo) and was likely to be beneficial to 4-km TT performance time (-7.8 ± 8.1 s; 94% likelihood), despite not being statistically different (p = 0.060). Performance times in the 1- and 10-km TT were not affected by treatment. For the highly trained cyclists in the current study, β-alanine supplementation significantly extended supramaximal cycling TTE and may have provided a worthwhile improvement to 4-km TT performance. However, 1- and 10-km cycling TT performance appears to be unaffected by β-alanine supplementation.
Keywords: Carnosine; buffer; cycling; supplement.