Original Article

Amino Acids

, Volume 46, Issue 5, pp 1169-1176

A 7-day oral supplementation with branched-chain amino acids was ineffective to prevent muscle damage during a marathon

  • Francisco ArecesAffiliated withExercise Physiology Laboratory, Sport Science Institute, Camilo José Cela University
  • , Juan Jose SalineroAffiliated withExercise Physiology Laboratory, Sport Science Institute, Camilo José Cela University
  • , Javier Abian-VicenAffiliated withExercise Physiology Laboratory, Sport Science Institute, Camilo José Cela University
  • , Cristina González-MillánAffiliated withExercise Physiology Laboratory, Sport Science Institute, Camilo José Cela University
  • , Cesar Gallo-SalazarAffiliated withExercise Physiology Laboratory, Sport Science Institute, Camilo José Cela University
  • , Diana Ruiz-VicenteAffiliated withExercise Physiology Laboratory, Sport Science Institute, Camilo José Cela University
  • , Beatriz LaraAffiliated withExercise Physiology Laboratory, Sport Science Institute, Camilo José Cela University
  • , Juan Del CosoAffiliated withExercise Physiology Laboratory, Sport Science Institute, Camilo José Cela University Email author 

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Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a 7-day oral supplementation with branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) to prevent muscle damage during a marathon. Forty-six experienced runners were randomly divided into two groups, one with BCAA supplementation (n = 25, supplemented with 5 g day−1 of powdered 1:0.5:0.5 leucine:isoleucine:valine, during the 7 days prior to the competition) and the other as a control group (n = 21, supplemented with an isocaloric placebo). Before the marathon race and within 3 min of finishing, leg muscle power was measured with a maximal countermovement jump and a urine sample was obtained. During the race, running pace was measured by means of a time-chip. Myoglobin concentration was determined in the urine samples as an indirect marker of muscle damage. A visual analog scale (0–10 points) was used to assess leg muscle pain during the race. In the BCAA group, the mean running pace during the marathon was similar to the control group (3.3 ± 0.4 vs. 3.3 ± 0.5 m s−1, respectively, 0.98). The pre- to post-race reduction in muscle power was similar in both BCAA and control groups (−23.0 ± 16.1 vs. −17.3 ± 13.8 %, P = 0.13). Post-race urine myoglobin concentration was similar in both BCAA and control groups (5.4 ± 7.5 vs. 4.5 ± 8.6 μg mL−1, P = 0.70). Finally, there were no differences between groups in the perceived muscle pain during the race (6 ± 1 vs. 5 ± 1 points, P = 0.80). A 7-day supplementation of BCAA (5 g day−1) did not increase the running performance during a marathon. Furthermore, BCAA supplementation was ineffective to prevent muscle power loss, muscle damage or perceived muscle pain during a marathon race.

Keywords

Muscle damage Running performance Branched-chain amino acids Nutritional supplementation Myoglobinuria