, Volume 46, Issue 5, pp 1169-1176
Date: 30 Jan 2014

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

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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.