Beta-alanine (BA) is a precursor to carnosine which functions as a buffer assisting in the maintenance of intracellular pH during high-intensity efforts. Rugby is a sport characterized by multiple intermittent periods of maximal or near maximal efforts with short periods of rest/active recovery. The purpose of this pilot study was to evaluate the impact of six weeks of beta-alanine supplementation on anaerobic performance measures in collegiate rugby players. Twenty-one male, collegiate rugby players were recruited, while fifteen completed post-testing (Mean ± SD; Age: 21.0 ± 1.8 years, Height: 179 ± 6.3 cm, Body Mass: 91.8 ± 13.3 kg, % Body Fat: 21.3 ± 4.4). Supplementation was randomized in a double-blind, placebo-controlled manner between 6.4 g/d of beta-alanine and 6.4 g/d of maltodextrin placebo. Body composition, upper and lower-body maximal strength and muscular endurance, intermittent sprint performance, and post-exercise lactate, heart rate, and rating of perceived exertion were assessed before and after supplementation. Data were analyzed using a 2 × 2 (group × time) mixed factorial analysis of variance (ANOVA) with repeated measures on time. No significant interaction effects were noted for body mass, fat mass, fat-free mass, and percent bodyfat (p
> 0.05). No performance effects resulting from beta-alanine supplementation were detected. Results from this initial pilot investigation suggest that BA exerts little to no impact on body composition parameters, muscular strength, muscular endurance, or intermittent sprinting performance. With the limited research exploring the impact of BA in this sporting context, these initial findings offer little support for BA use, but more research is needed to fully understand the potential impact of BA on various aspects of resistance exercise performance.
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