β-alanine supplementation improves tactical performance but not cognitive function in combat soldiers

Jay R. Hoffman, Geva Landau, Jeffrey R. Stout, Matan Dabora, Daniel S. Moran, Nurit Sharvit, Mattan W. Hoffman, Yuval Ben Moshe, William P. McCormack, Gil Hirschhorn, Ishay Ostfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: There are no known studies that have examined β-alanine supplementation in military personnel. Considering the physiological and potential neurological effects that have been reported during sustained military operations, it appears that β-alanine supplementation may have a potential benefit in maintaining physical and cognitive performance during high-intensity military activity under stressful conditions. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of 28 days of β-alanine ingestion in military personnel while fatigued on physical and cognitive performance.Methods: Twenty soldiers (20.1 ± 0.9 years) from an elite combat unit were randomly assigned to either a β-alanine (BA) or placebo (PL) group. Soldiers were involved in advanced military training, including combat skill development, navigational training, self-defense/hand-to-hand combat and conditioning. All participants performed a 4-km run, 5-countermovement jumps using a linear position transducer, 120-m sprint, a 10-shot shooting protocol with assault rifle, including overcoming a misfire, and a 2-min serial subtraction test to assess cognitive function before (Pre) and after (Post) 28 days of supplementation.Results: The training routine resulted in significant increases in 4-km run time for both groups, but no between group differences were seen (p = 0.597). Peak jump power at Post was greater for BA than PL (p = 0.034), while mean jump power for BA at Post was 10.2% greater (p = 0.139) than PL. BA had a significantly greater (p = 0.012) number of shots on target at Post (8.2 ± 1.0) than PL (6.5 ± 2.1), and their target engagement speed at Post was also significantly faster (p = 0.039). No difference in serial subtraction performance was seen between the groups (p = 0.844).Conclusion: Results of this study indicate that 4-weeks of β-alanine ingestion in young, healthy soldiers did not impact cognitive performance, but did enhance power performance, marksmanship and target engagement speed from pre-ingestion levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15
JournalJournal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 10 Apr 2014

Keywords

  • Marksmanship
  • Military performance
  • Physical performance
  • Power
  • Supplements

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