Branched-Chain Amino Acids for Sports & Fitness
Branched-Chain Amino Acids
Why Do Athletes Use It?*
Some athletes say that branched-chain amino acids helps improve strength-training and endurance results.
What Do the Advocates Say?*
A good deal of research has been done on branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) in athletes, but results are quite mixed. BCAAs do not seem to enhance training benefits or exercise performance in most situations. Some athletes, however, may experience increased mental clarity during exercise or may be less susceptible to infections caused by the stress of exercise. Performance under extreme conditions, such as high altitude or heat, may also be improved with BCAAs.
How Much Is Usually Taken by Athletes?
Some research has shown that supplemental BCAAs (typically 10 to 20 grams per day) do not result in meaningful changes in body composition,1 nor do they improve exercise performance or enhance the effects of physical training.2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 However, BCAA supplementation may be useful in special situations, such as preventing muscle loss at high altitudes and prolonging endurance performance in the heat.8, 9 One controlled study gave triathletes 6 grams per day of BCAA for one month before a competition, then 3 grams per day from the day of competition until a week following. Compared with a placebo, BCAAs restored depleted glutamine stores and immune factors that occur in elite athletes, and led to a reported one-third fewer symptoms of infection during the period of supplementation.10 Studies by one group of researchers suggest that BCAA supplementation may also improve exercise-induced declines in some aspects of mental functioning.11, 12, 13
*Athletes and fitness advocates may claim benefits for this supplement based on their personal or professional experience. These are individual opinions and testimonials that may or may not be supported by controlled clinical studies or published scientific articles.
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The information presented by Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2016.