Friday, July 23, 2010

Beta-Alanine: Positive Effects on Exercise Performance Augmented by Sodium Bicarbonate

Every fitness enthusiasts knows that beta-alanine via an increase of muscle carnosine, a major H+ buffer, increases time to exhaustion and other parameters of exercise performance. A study by Craig et.al. (Craig. 2010) recently found that concomitant supplementation of sodium bicarbonate augmented the positive effect of beta-alanine on four bouts of high intensity cycling performance in twelve males (age 25±3 yrs; height 1.79±0.05 m; body mass 81.2±9.8 kg):
"[Total work done] TWD during the [capacity test at 110% maximum power] CCT110% was increased in all conditions post-supplementation, with the largest increases being shown with b-alanine (+7.9% PP, +4.1% PSB, +11.1% BAP and +17.6% BASB). Supplementation with [beta-alanine + sodium bicarbonate] BASB resulted in significantly greater TWD during the CCT110% than during the other conditions (P < 0.05)." (Craig. 2010)
Obviously two H+ buffers are better than one. The further increase in exercise performance in the beta-alanine + sodium bicarbonate group may well be explained by slightly different mechanisms of action:
"In the blood, bicarbonate is the main buffer with phosphate as one of the many other buffering agents. In muscle tissue, phosphate and carnosine together provide approximately 90% of the muscle’s buffering capacity. Bicarbonate only plays a minor role." (Di Pasquale. 2008. 275)
It is therefore only logical to supplement both, sodium bicarbonate, as well as beta-alanine, in an effort to maximize exercise performance.