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    Beta-alanine did not improve high-intensity performance throughout simulated road cycling

    Perim, P, Gobbi, N, Duarte, B, Oliveira, LFD, Costa, LAR, Sale, C ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5816-4169, Gualano, B, Dolan, E and Saunders, B (2022) Beta-alanine did not improve high-intensity performance throughout simulated road cycling. European Journal of Sport Science, 22 (8). pp. 1240-1249. ISSN 1746-1391

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    This study investigated the effect of beta-alanine supplementation on short-duration sprints and final 4-km simulated uphill cycling time-trial performance during a comprehensive and novel exercise protocol representative of the demands of road-race cycling, and determined if changes were related to increases in muscle carnosine content. Seventeen cyclists (age 38 ± 9 y, height 1.76 ± 0.07 m, body mass 71.4 ± 8.8 kg, V̇O2max 52.4 ± 8.3 ml·kg−1·min−1) participated in this placebo-controlled, double-blind study. Cyclists undertook a prolonged intermittent cycling protocol lasting 125 min, with a 10-s sprint every 20 min, finishing with a 4-km time-trial at 5% simulated incline. Participants completed two familiarization sessions, and two main sessions, one pre-supplementation and one post-supplementation following 28 days of 6.4 g·day−1 of beta-alanine (N=11) or placebo (N=6; maltodextrin). Muscle biopsies obtained pre- and post-supplementation were analysed for muscle carnosine content. There were no main effects on sprint performance throughout the intermittent cycling test (all P>0.05). There was no group (P=0.69), time (P=0.50) or group x time interaction (P=0.26) on time-to-complete the 4-km time-trial. Time-to-completion did not change from pre- to post-supplementation for BA (−19.2 ± 45.6 s, P=0.43) or PL (+2.8 ± 31.6 s, P=0.99). Beta-alanine supplementation increased muscle carnosine content from pre- to post-supplementation (+9.4 ± 4.0 mmol·kg−1dm; P<0.0001) but was not related to performance changes (r=0.320, P=0.37). Chronic beta-alanine supplementation increased muscle carnosine content but did not improve short-duration sprint performance throughout simulated road race cycling, nor 4-km uphill time-trial performance conducted at the end of this cycling test. Highlights Performance during prolonged cycling events often depends on the ability to maintain an increased power output during higher intensity periods. Thus, cyclists are likely heavily dependent on their ability to resist fatigue during these periods of high-intensity activity. Meta-analytical data show beta-alanine to be an effective supplement to improve exercise outcomes, but little work exists on its efficacy during dynamic actions that are common during prolonged cycling. Beta-alanine supplementation increased muscle carnosine content but did not generate improvements in the performance of high-intensity cycling (10-s sprints or 4-km uphill time-trial) during a simulated road race cycling protocol. These data suggest that short duration sprints (≤10 s) and longer duration (>10 min) high-intensity activity throughout endurance cycling may not be improved with beta-alanine supplementation despite increases in muscle carnosine content.

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