Amino Acids

pp 1–14 | Cite as

Effects of β-alanine and sodium bicarbonate supplementation on the estimated energy system contribution during high-intensity intermittent exercise

  • Rafael Pires da Silva
  • Luana Farias de Oliveira
  • Bryan Saunders
  • Caroline de Andrade Kratz
  • Vitor de Salles Painelli
  • Vinicius da Eira Silva
  • João Carlos Bouzas Marins
  • Emerson Franchini
  • Bruno Gualano
  • Guilherme Giannini ArtioliEmail author
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Carnosine


The effects of β-alanine (BA) and sodium bicarbonate (SB) on energy metabolism during work-matched high-intensity exercise and cycling time-trial performance were examined in 71 male cyclists. They were randomised to receive BA + placebo (BA, n = 18), placebo + SB (SB, n = 17), BA + SB (BASB, n = 19), or placebo + placebo (PLA, n = 18). BA was supplemented for 28 days (6.4 g day−1) and SB (0.3 g kg−1) ingested 60 min before exercise on the post-supplementation trial. Dextrose and calcium carbonate were placebos for BA and SB, respectively. Before (PRE) and after (POST) supplementation, participants performed a high-intensity intermittent cycling test (HICT-110%) consisting of four 60-s bouts at 110% of their maximal power output (60-s rest between bouts). The estimated contribution of the energy systems was calculated for each bout in 39 of the participants (BA: n = 9; SB: n = 10; BASB: n = 10, PLA: n = 10). Ten minutes after HICT-110%, cycling performance was determined in a 30-kJ time-trial test in all participants. Both groups receiving SB increased estimated glycolytic contribution in the overall HICT-110%, which approached significance (SB: + 23%, p = 0.068 vs. PRE; BASB: + 18%, p = 0.059 vs. PRE). No effects of supplementation were observed for the estimated oxidative and ATP-PCr systems. Time to complete 30 kJ was not significantly changed by any of the treatments, although a trend toward significance was shown in the BASB group (p = 0.06). We conclude that SB, but not BA, increases the estimated glycolytic contribution to high-intensity intermittent exercise when total work done is controlled and that BA and SB, either alone or in combination, do not improve short-duration cycling time-trial performance.


Metabolism Buffering Performance Acidosis Cycling 



We wish to thank the Laboratório de Determinantes Energéticos de Desempenho Esportivo (LADESP) for the access to their facilities. We also would like to thank Hamilton Roschel and Manuel Lixandrão for the advice with statistical analysis, Eimear Dolan for the helpful insights for the discussion, and all the volunteers for their participation. Rafael Pires da Silva, Vitor S. Painelli, Bruno Gualano, Bryan Saunders, and Guilherme Artioli have been financially supported by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo (FAPESP Grants number: 2012/13026-5, 2013/04806-0, 2013/14746-4, 2016/50438-0, and 2014/11948-8). Luana F. de Oliveira has been financially supported by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES). Bruno Gualano has been financially supported by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) (Grant number 150513/2015-1). Bryan Saunders has previously received financial support from Natural Alternatives International (NAI) to undertake a study unrelated to the current one. NAI have not had any input (financial, intellectual, or otherwise) into this study.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

726_2018_2643_MOESM1_ESM.doc (42 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 41 kb)


  1. Abe H (2000) Role of histidine-related compounds as intracellular proton buffering constituents in vertebrate muscle. Biochemistry (Mosc) 65:757–765Google Scholar
  2. Artioli GG, Gualano B, Coelho DF, Benatti FB, Gailey AW, Lancha AH Jr (2007) Does sodium-bicarbonate ingestion improve simulated judo performance? Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 17:206–217CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bellinger PM, Minahan CL (2016a) Metabolic consequences of β-alanine supplementation during exhaustive supramaximal cycling and 4000-m time-trial performance. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 41:864–871CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bellinger PM, Minahan CL (2016b) The effect of β-alanine supplementation on cycling time trials of different length. Eur J Sport Sci 16:829–836CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Bellinger PM, Howe ST, Shing CM, Fell JW (2012) Effect of combined β-alanine and sodium bicarbonate supplementation on cycling performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc 44:1545–1551CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Bishop D, Claudius B (2005) Effects of induced metabolic alkalosis on prolonged intermittent-sprint performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc 37:759–767CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Bishop D, Edge J, Davis C, Goodman C (2004) Induced metabolic alkalosis affects muscle metabolism and repeated-sprint ability. Med Sci Sports Exerc 36:807–813CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Brisola GM, Miyagi WE, da Silva HS, Zagatto AM (2015) Sodium bicarbonate supplementation improved MAOD but is not correlated with 200- and 400-m running performances: a double-blind, crossover, and placebo-controlled study. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 40:931–937CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Cady EB, Jones DA, Lynn J, Newham DJ (1989) Changes in force and intracellular metabolites during fatigue of human skeletal muscle. J Physiol 418:311–325CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Carr AJ, Hopkins WG, Gore CJ (2011) Effects of acute alkalosis and acidosis on performance: a meta-analysis. Sports Med 41:801–814CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Costill DL, Verstappen F, Kuipers H, Janssen E, Fink W (1984) Acid-base balance during repeated bouts of exercise: influence of HCO3. Int J Sports Med 5:228–231CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Currell K, Jeukendrup AE (2008) Validity, reliability and sensitivity of measures of sporting performance. Sports Med 38:297–316CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Danaher J, Gerber T, Wellard RM, Stathis CG (2014) The effect of β-alanine and NaHCO3 co-ingestion on buffering capacity and exercise performance with high-intensity exercise in healthy males. Eur J Appl Physiol 114:1715–1724CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. De Araujo Dias G, Silva VE, Painelli VS, Sale C, Artioli GG, Gualano B, Saunders B (2015) (In)Consistencies in responses to sodium bicarbonate supplementation. PLoS One 10:e0143086. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Debold EP, Fitts RH, Sundberg CW, Nosek TM (2016) Muscle fatigue from the perspective of a single crossbridge. Med Sci Sports Exerc 11:2270–2280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Di Prampero PE, Ferretti G (1999) The energetics of anaerobic muscle metabolism: a reappraisal of older and recent concepts. Respir Physiol 118:103–115CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Duffield R, Dawson B, Pinnington HC, Wong P (2004) Accuracy and reliability of a Cosmed K4b2 portable gas analysis system. J Sci Med Sport 7:11–22CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Fitts RH (2016) The role of acidosis in fatigue: pro perspective. Med Sci Sports Exerc 11:2335–2338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gladden LB (2004) Lactate metabolism: a new paradigm for the third millennium. J Physiol 558:5–30CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. Harris RC, Tallon MJ, Dunnett M, Boobis L, Coakley J, Kim HJ, Fallowfield JL, Hill CA, Sale C, Wise JA (2006) The absorption of orally supplied β-alanine and its effect on muscle carnosine synthesis in human vastus lateralis. Amino Acids 30:279–289CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Heibel AB, Perim PHL, Oliveira LF, McNaughton LR, Saunders B (2018) Time to optimise supplementation: modifying factors influencing individual responses to extracellular buffering agents. Front Nutr 5:35. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  22. Hermansen L, Osnes JB (1972) Blood and muscle pH after maximal exercise in man. J Appl Physiol 32:304–308CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Hill CA, Harris RC, Kim HJ, Harris BD, Sale C, Boobis LH, Kim CK, Wise JA (2007) Influence of β-alanine supplementation on skeletal muscle carnosine concentrations and high intensity cycling capacity. Amino Acids 32:225–233CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Hobson RM, Harris RC, Martin D, Smith P, Macklin B, Gualano B, Sale C (2013) Effect of β-alanine, with and without sodium bicarbonate, on 2000-m rowing performance. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 23:480–487CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Hollidge-Horvat MG, Parolin ML, Wong D, Jones NL, Heigenhauser GJ (2000) Effect of induced metabolic alkalosis on human skeletal muscle metabolism during exercise. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab 278:E316–E329CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Jones G, Smith M, Harris R (2011) Imidazole dipeptide content of dietary sources commonly consumed within the British diet. Proc Nutr Soc 70:E363CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jones RL, Stellingwerff T, Artioli GG, Saunders B, Cooper S, Sale C (2016) Dose–esponse of sodium bicarbonate ingestion highlights individuality in time course of blood analyte responses. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 26:445–453CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Lopes-Silva JP, Silva Santos JF, Branco BH, Abad CC, Oliveira LF, Loturco I, Franchini E (2015) Caffeine ingestion increases estimated glycolytic metabolism during taekwondo combat simulation but does not improve performance or parasympathetic reactivation. PLoS One 10:e0142078. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. Lopes-Silva JP, Da Silva Santos JF, Artioli GG, Loturco I, Abbiss C, Franchini E (2018) Sodium bicarbonate ingestion increases glycolytic contribution and improves performance during simulated taekwondo combat. Eur J Sport Sci 20:1–10. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Macfarlane DJ (2017) Open-circuit respirometry: a historical review of portable gas analysis systems. Eur J Appl Physiol 117:2369–2386CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Nakagawa S, Cuthill IC (2007) Effect size, confidence interval and statistical significance: a practical guide for biologists. Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc 82:591–605CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Oliveira LF, de Salles Painelli V, Nemezio K, Gonçalves LS, Yamaguchi G, Saunders B, Gualano B, Artioli GG (2017) Chronic lactate supplementation does not improve blood buffering capacity and repeated high-intensity exercise. Scand J Med Sci Sports 27:1231–1239CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Painelli VS, Roschel H, Jesus FD, Sale C, Harris RC, Solis MY, Benatti FB, Gualano B, Lancha AH Jr, Artioli GG (2013) The ergogenic effect of β-alanine combined with sodium bicarbonate on high-intensity swimming performance. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab 38:525–532CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Price M, Moss P, Rance S (2003) Effects of sodium bicarbonate ingestion on prolonged intermittent exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 35:1303–1308CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. Sahlin K, Harris RC, Hultman E (1975) Creatine kinase equilibrium and lactate content compared with muscle pH in tissue samples obtained after isometric exercise. Biochem J 152:173–180CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  36. Sakamoto A, Naito H, Chow CM (2018) Effects of hyperventilation on repeated pedaling sprint performance: short vs. long intervention duration. J Strength Cond Res 32:170–180CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Sale C, Saunders B, Hudson S, Wise JA, Harris RC, Sunderland CD (2011) Effect of β-alanine plus sodium bicarbonate on high-intensity cycling capacity. Med Sci Sports Exerc 43:1972–1978PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Saunders B, Sale C, Harris RC, Sunderland C (2014a) Effect of sodium bicarbonate and β-alanine on repeated sprints during intermittent exercise performed in hypoxia. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 24:196–205CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Saunders B, Sale C, Harris RC, Sunderland CD (2014b) Sodium bicarbonate and high-intensity cycling capacity: variability in responses. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 9:627–632CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  40. Saunders B, De Salles Painelli V, De Oliveira LF, Da Eira Silva V, Da Silva RP, Riani L, Franchi M, Gonçalves LS, Harris RC, Roschel H, Artioli GG, Sale C, Gualano B (2017a) Twenty-four weeks of β-alanine supplementation on carnosine content, related genes, and exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 49:896–906CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. Saunders B, Elliott-Sale K, Artioli GG, Swinton PA, Dolan E, Roschel H, Sale C, Gualano B (2017b) β-Alanine supplementation to improve exercise capacity and performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Br J Sports Med 51:658–669CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  42. Siegler JC, Marshall PW, Bishop D, Shaw G, Green S (2016) Mechanistic insights into the efficacy of sodium bicarbonate supplementation to improve athletic performance. Sports Med Open 2:41. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  43. Spriet LL, Lindinger MI, Heigenhauser GJ, Jones NL (1986) Effects of alkalosis on skeletal muscle metabolism and performance during exercise. Am J Physiol 251:R833–R839CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Sutton JR, Jones NL, Toews CJ (1981) Effect of pH on muscle glycolysis during exercise. Clin Sci (Lond) 61:331–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Tobias G, Benatti FB, de Salles Painelli V, Roschel H, Gualano B, Sale C, Harris RC, Lancha AH Jr, Artioli GG (2013) Additive effects of β-alanine and sodium bicarbonate on upper-body intermittent performance. Amino Acids 45:309–317CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rafael Pires da Silva
    • 1
    • 2
  • Luana Farias de Oliveira
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bryan Saunders
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Caroline de Andrade Kratz
    • 1
    • 2
  • Vitor de Salles Painelli
    • 1
    • 2
  • Vinicius da Eira Silva
    • 1
    • 2
  • João Carlos Bouzas Marins
    • 4
  • Emerson Franchini
    • 5
  • Bruno Gualano
    • 1
    • 2
    • 6
  • Guilherme Giannini Artioli
    • 1
    • 2
    • 7
    Email author return OK on get
  1. 1.Rheumatology Division, Applied Physiology and Nutrition Research Group, School of Physical Education and Sport, Faculdade de Medicina FMUSPUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.University of Sao PauloSão PauloBrazil
  3. 3.Institute of Orthopedics and Traumatology, Faculdade de Medicina FMUSPUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  4. 4.Department of Physical EducationFederal University of VicosaVicosaBrazil
  5. 5.Department of Sport, School of Physical Education and SportUniversity of Sao PauloSão PauloBrazil
  6. 6.Rheumatology Division, Faculdade de Medicina FMUSPUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  7. 7.São PauloBrazil

Personalised recommendations