The Effects of Short Term β-Alanine Supplementation on Performance in Division III Male and Female Rowers

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Maddie Jaques
Daniel Glick
Dante Greco-Henderson
Stephen J. Ives


Carnosine, sex differences, Body composition


Introduction: Carnosine is an intramuscular buffer, and β-Alanine is the limiting reagent in carnosine synthesis. Thus, β-Alanine supplementation which increases carnosine concentrations, has been shown to have an ergogenic effect. Past studies found improvements in body composition and 2km time trial performance in elite rowers, but there is limited research examining the effects of β-Alanine in collegiate rowers and if sex differences may exist.
Methods: Using a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized design, the effects of four weeks of 3.2 g/d of β-Alanine, or placebo, on body composition and 2km time were tested in male and female collegiate rowers. Performance was taken one and three weeks into supplementation as well as post-supplementation. Body composition was measured using air displacement plethysmography before and after supplementation. Results: Body composition and rowing performance were improved over time. However, change in body composition -1.5 ± 1.9 vs -2.7 ± 2.9 %fat, lean mass 2.3 ± 1.3 vs. 1.4 ± 1.8 kg, and 2km time -2.1 ± 7.9 v -4.2 ± 6.5s, were not different between placebo and β-Alanine groups, respectively (p>0.05), though improvement in 2km tended to be ~50% better with β-Alanine (effect size = 0.29). There were no apparent sex differences over time or with supplementation.
Conclusions: β-Alanine supplementation did not have a significant effect on 2km rowing time, although the β-Alanine group tended to improve more than placebo, perhaps as a result of improved buffering capacity. However, further work is needed in this population, specifically using longer and higher β-alanine dosing schemes.

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