BCAA Supplementation Found to Improve Exercise Performance
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are a group of three essential amino acids - leucine, isoleucine and valine – which are not produced by the body and must be obtained from food. Food sources of BCAAs include beef, chicken, fish, eggs, chickpeas, brown rice, and almonds. A recent study has found that supplementation with BCAAs may help improve rating of perceived exertion and performance during exercise.
Thirty-two healthy adults with an average age of 22 participated in the study. None of them exercised on a regular basis prior to the study. They underwent two cycling sessions using a cycling ergometer test. The tests were separated by a 9-week high intensity interval training program. Participants consumed the BCAA supplement or a placebo two hours before the tests and before each training session. Blood draws were taken at arrival, right before the test, upon completion of the test, 4 hours after the test, and 24 hours after the test. Performance indexes including maximal oxygen consumption and rating of perceived exertion were assessed.
The researchers found that BCAA supplementation reduced rating of perceived exertion on the first day by 9% during the recovery phase compared to the placebo. After 9 weeks, reported perceived exertion was reduced by 13% during the test and 21% during the recovery phase in the BCAA group compared to placebo. The BCAA group also saw improvements in time to exhaustion and the amount of strain placed on the body.
The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Urbino Carlo Bo. It was published online ahead of print on January 20, 2020 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.