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.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Abe H (2000) Role of histidine-related compounds as intracellular proton buffering constituents in vertebrate muscle. Biochemistry (Mosc) 65:757–765
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 17:206–217
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 41:864–871
Bellinger PM, Minahan CL (2016b) The effect of β-alanine supplementation on cycling time trials of different length. Eur J Sport Sci 16:829–836
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 44:1545–1551
Bishop D, Claudius B (2005) Effects of induced metabolic alkalosis on prolonged intermittent-sprint performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc 37:759–767
Bishop D, Edge J, Davis C, Goodman C (2004) Induced metabolic alkalosis affects muscle metabolism and repeated-sprint ability. Med Sci Sports Exerc 36:807–813
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 40:931–937
Cady EB, Jones DA, Lynn J, Newham DJ (1989) Changes in force and intracellular metabolites during fatigue of human skeletal muscle. J Physiol 418:311–325
Carr AJ, Hopkins WG, Gore CJ (2011) Effects of acute alkalosis and acidosis on performance: a meta-analysis. Sports Med 41:801–814
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 5:228–231
Currell K, Jeukendrup AE (2008) Validity, reliability and sensitivity of measures of sporting performance. Sports Med 38:297–316
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 114:1715–1724
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. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0143086
Debold EP, Fitts RH, Sundberg CW, Nosek TM (2016) Muscle fatigue from the perspective of a single crossbridge. Med Sci Sports Exerc 11:2270–2280
Di Prampero PE, Ferretti G (1999) The energetics of anaerobic muscle metabolism: a reappraisal of older and recent concepts. Respir Physiol 118:103–115
Duffield R, Dawson B, Pinnington HC, Wong P (2004) Accuracy and reliability of a Cosmed K4b2 portable gas analysis system. J Sci Med Sport 7:11–22
Fitts RH (2016) The role of acidosis in fatigue: pro perspective. Med Sci Sports Exerc 11:2335–2338
Gladden LB (2004) Lactate metabolism: a new paradigm for the third millennium. J Physiol 558:5–30
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 30:279–289
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. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2018.00035
Hermansen L, Osnes JB (1972) Blood and muscle pH after maximal exercise in man. J Appl Physiol 32:304–308
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 32:225–233
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 23:480–487
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–E329
Jones G, Smith M, Harris R (2011) Imidazole dipeptide content of dietary sources commonly consumed within the British diet. Proc Nutr Soc 70:E363
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 26:445–453
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. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0142078
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. https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2018.1424942
Macfarlane DJ (2017) Open-circuit respirometry: a historical review of portable gas analysis systems. Eur J Appl Physiol 117:2369–2386
Nakagawa S, Cuthill IC (2007) Effect size, confidence interval and statistical significance: a practical guide for biologists. Biol Rev Camb Philos Soc 82:591–605
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 27:1231–1239
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 38:525–532
Price M, Moss P, Rance S (2003) Effects of sodium bicarbonate ingestion on prolonged intermittent exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 35:1303–1308
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 152:173–180
Sakamoto A, Naito H, Chow CM (2018) Effects of hyperventilation on repeated pedaling sprint performance: short vs. long intervention duration. J Strength Cond Res 32:170–180
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 43:1972–1978
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 24:196–205
Saunders B, Sale C, Harris RC, Sunderland CD (2014b) Sodium bicarbonate and high-intensity cycling capacity: variability in responses. Int J Sports Physiol Perform 9:627–632
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 49:896–906
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 51:658–669
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. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40798-016-0065-9
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–R839
Sutton JR, Jones NL, Toews CJ (1981) Effect of pH on muscle glycolysis during exercise. Clin Sci (Lond) 61:331–338
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 45:309–317
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.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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 was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Handling Editor: W. Derave.
Electronic supplementary material
Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.
About this article
Cite this article
da Silva, R.P., de Oliveira, L.F., Saunders, B. et al. Effects of β-alanine and sodium bicarbonate supplementation on the estimated energy system contribution during high-intensity intermittent exercise. Amino Acids 51, 83–96 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-018-2643-2