By: Rob Clarke
Beta-alanine is a proven ergogenic. It can help your performance significantly by buffering hydrogen build-up in the cell. It has long believed that this improvement in performance would ultimately manifest overtime in an increase in muscle mass. A new study published in the JISSN has backed this. I say “new” study, but the only thing that is new that it finally got published. The researchers actually presented these findings at the 2009 International Society of Sports Nutrition Conference.
In the study, researchers used twenty-two college wrestlers and fifteen football players (thirty-seven total participants) and gave seventeen of them four grams of beta-alanine per day for eight weeks. The other twenty served as placebo. Some of you may note that this is a slightly higher dose than has been used as standard in previous studies (where 1.6g was given twice daily for a 3.2g total). They tested the effects this protocol had on the 300 yard shuttle and the flexed arm hang (a pull-up where you hold your chin above the bar). In addition, tabs were kept on body composition.
During the eight weeks the training protocols that the two types of participant followed was obviously different. After all, wrestlers don’t train like footballers and footballers don’t train like wrestlers. Not to mention the wrestlers were aiming to make weight during this time, so them losing weight was to be expected. And lose weight they did. What was more surprising is that while both placebo-using and beta-alanine-using wrestling groups lost weight, the placebo group lost around 1lb of lean mass, the beta-alanine gained around 1lb of lean mass. They also took slightly more time off their 300 shuttle and added to their flexed arm hang. Adding 1lb of lean mass
While dropping weight is quite a significant effect. Generally speaking, the body likes to build muscle or burn fat, but rarely both at once.
Onto the footballers. Both placebo and beta-alanine-users added weight, however those using beta-alanine gained around 1lb of lean mass extract and barely added any fat. Their 300 yard shuttle and flexed arm hang also improved over placebo.
For the footballers 1lb over eight weeks isn’t a huge amount (unless you’ve got 10-15 years of experience under your belt) but this study definitely demonstrates that beta-alanine is a supplement of proven value.