Original Article

Amino Acids

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 25-37

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Effects of β-alanine supplementation on exercise performance: a meta-analysis

  • R. M. HobsonAffiliated withBiomedical, Life and Health Sciences Research Centre, School of Science and Technology, Nottingham Trent University
  • , B. SaundersAffiliated withBiomedical, Life and Health Sciences Research Centre, School of Science and Technology, Nottingham Trent University
  • , G. BallAffiliated withBiomedical, Life and Health Sciences Research Centre, School of Science and Technology, Nottingham Trent University
  • , R. C. HarrisAffiliated withJunipa Ltd
  • , C. SaleAffiliated withBiomedical, Life and Health Sciences Research Centre, School of Science and Technology, Nottingham Trent University Email author 

Abstract

Due to the well-defined role of β-alanine as a substrate of carnosine (a major contributor to H+ buffering during high-intensity exercise), β-alanine is fast becoming a popular ergogenic aid to sports performance. There have been several recent qualitative review articles published on the topic, and here we present a preliminary quantitative review of the literature through a meta-analysis. A comprehensive search of the literature was employed to identify all studies suitable for inclusion in the analysis; strict exclusion criteria were also applied. Fifteen published manuscripts were included in the analysis, which reported the results of 57 measures within 23 exercise tests, using 18 supplementation regimes and a total of 360 participants [174, β-alanine supplementation group (BA) and 186, placebo supplementation group (Pla)]. BA improved (P = 0.002) the outcome of exercise measures to a greater extent than Pla [median effect size (IQR): BA 0.374 (0.140–0.747), Pla 0.108 (−0.019 to 0.487)]. Some of that effect might be explained by the improvement (P = 0.013) in exercise capacity with BA compared to Pla; no improvement was seen for exercise performance (P = 0.204). In line with the purported mechanisms for an ergogenic effect of β-alanine supplementation, exercise lasting 60–240 s was improved (P = 0.001) in BA compared to Pla, as was exercise of >240 s (P = 0.046). In contrast, there was no benefit of β-alanine on exercise lasting <60 s (P = 0.312). The median effect of β-alanine supplementation is a 2.85% (−0.37 to 10.49%) improvement in the outcome of an exercise measure, when a median total of 179 g of β-alanine is supplemented.

Keywords

β-Alanine supplementation Meta-analysis Exercise test and duration