Performance Genetics: Good Stuff

Performance-Genetics-1 (1)
These guys are based here in Lexington, and their website has a trove of great info for those interested in the intersection of exercise science, genetics, and equine performance:

Via Twitter, they recently turned me on to a great study looking at beta-alanine supplementation and swimming performance in humans:

This is of interest to me because I distribute the STORM product, but have not yet been able to set up a controlled experiment on equine performance. I could likely do so in quick order, but frankly, no one would pay a bit of attention – and I am having good enough results on my own.

Anyway, the abbreviated version of the study:

Humans swimming 200m in about 120 seconds were supplemented with beta-alanine for 5 weeks. Afterwards their 200m swim times improved by 2%. That’s quite significant. Important to note: humans typically have about 8% levels of carnosine in their muscles, while horses have as much as 30% – so I shouldn’t be too surprised at the results I am having on the track. As a matter of fact the ‘Harris’ cited as a source in one of the supporting studies is half of the team behind STORM.

Also, we see here that these human swimmers show blood lactate levels of 9-15 mmol after the event. Thoroughbred horses? I see numbers always over 20 after 6F, and closer to 30mmol in the longer events. Wow.

Of note, supplementation in this study was only 5 weeks in length, yet the manufacturers behind STORM note continued uptake of beta-alanine in horses on up through 12 weeks. So these swimmers may just be starting to feel the benefits – yet the study ended, prematurely in my opinion.

Lastly, the above study also looked at the additional supplementation of sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda. Horsemen and women around the world will recognize this as the now-illegal baking soda milkshake. In these human trials, the addition of bicarbonate made no difference over 100m, and a very small one at 200m.

I’ve always maintained that buffering lactic acid in muscles was much more important to performance versus merely doing so in the blood. Beta-alanine works on the muscular level, while bicarbonate functions in the bloodstream. That’s why one must supplement with BA 2x daily for weeks before seeing any benefit, yet milkshaking a horse must occur close to post-time to (potentially) help racing results.

One thing the fellows at Performance Genetics are discovering is the HUGE variability among horses in how they respond to exercise. That principle is also likely at work regarding supplementation; either of the legal STORM variety or the forbidden bicarbonate milkshake route. Also, some horses will explode after some high altitude exposure – like this bad boy:



About bpressey

Equine Exercise Physiologist

Posted on February 20, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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