Branched-chain amino acid supplementation during trekking at high altitude

The effects on loss of body mass, body composition, and muscle power
  • F. Schena
  • F. Guerrini
  • P. Tregnaghi
  • B. Kayser
Article

Summary

To investigate the influence of a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplementation on chronic hypoxia-related loss of body mass and muscle loss, 16 subjects [age 35.8 (SD 5.6) years] participating in a 21-day trek at a mean altitude of 3,255 (SD 458) m, were divided in two age-, sex- and fitness-matched groups and took either a dietary supplementation of BCAA (5.76, 2.88 and 2.88 g per day of leucine, isoleucine and valine, respectively) or a placebo (PLAC) in a controlled double-blind manner. Daily energy intake at altitude decreased by 4% in both groups compared with sea level. After altitude exposure both groups showed a significant loss of body mass, 1.7% and 2.8% for BCAA and PLAC, respectively. Fat mass had decreased significantly by 11.7% for BCAA and 10.3% for PLAC, whereas BCAA showed a significantly increased lean mass of 1.5%, as opposed to no change in PLAC. Arm muscle cross-sectional area tended to increase in BCAA, whereas there was a significant decrease of 6.8% in PLAC (P<0.05 between groups). The same tendency, although not significant, was observed for the thigh muscle cross-sectional area. On the whole it seemed that PLAC had been catabolizing whereas BCAA had been synthesizing muscle tissue. Single jump height from a squatted position showed a similar tendency to increase in both groups. Lower limb maximal power decreased less in BCAA than in PLAC (2.4% vs 7.8%, P<0.05). We concluded that BCAA supplementation may prevent muscle loss during chronic hypobaric hypoxia.

Key words

Branched chain amino acid supplementation Altitude Trekking Loss of mass Body composition Hypoxia Nutrition 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bosco C, Komi PV (1980) Influence of aging on mechanical behaviour of leg extensor muscles. Eur J Appl Physiol 45:209–218Google Scholar
  2. Bosco C, Luthanen P, Komi PV (1983) A simple method of measurement of mechanical power in jumping. Eur J Appl Physiol 50:273–282Google Scholar
  3. Boyer SJ, Blume FD (1984) Weight loss and changes in body composition at high altitude. J Appl Physiol 57:1580–1585Google Scholar
  4. Bradwell AR, Dykes PW, Coote JH, et al (1986) Effect of acetazolamide on exercise performance and muscle mass at high altitude. Lancet 1:1001–1005Google Scholar
  5. Cerretelli P, Veicsteinas A, Marconi C (1982) Anaerobic metabolism at high altitude: the lactacid mechanism. In: Brendel W, Zink RA (eds) High altitude physiology and medicine. Springer, Berlin Heidelberg New York, pp 94–102Google Scholar
  6. Consolazio CF, Matoush LO, Johnson HL, Daws TA (1968) Protein and water balance of young adults during prolonged exposure to high altitude (4300 m). Am J Clin Nutr 21:154–161Google Scholar
  7. Consolazio CF, Matoush LO, Johnson HL, Krzywicki HJ, Daws TA, Isaac GJ (1969) Effects of high-carbohydrate diets on performance and clinical symptomatology after rapid ascent to high altitude. Fed Proc 28:937–943Google Scholar
  8. Consolazio CF, Johnson HL, Krzywicki HJ, Daws TA (1972) Metabolic aspects of acute altitude exposure (4300 meters) in adequately nourished humans. Am J Clin Nutr 25:23–29Google Scholar
  9. Durnin JW, Womersley J (1974) Body fat assessed from total body density and its estimation from skinfold thickness measurements on 481 men and women aged from 16 to 72 years. Br J Nutr 323:77–97Google Scholar
  10. Ferretti G, Hauser H, di Prampero PE (1990) Maximal muscular power before and after exposure to chronic hypoxia. Int J Sports Med 11 [Suppl 1]:S31-S34Google Scholar
  11. Gill MB, Pugh LGCE (1964) Basal metabolism and respiration in men living at 5800 m (19000 ft). J Appl Physiol 19:949–954Google Scholar
  12. Goldberg AL, Chang TW (1978) Regulation and significance of amino acid metabolism in skeletal muscle. Fed Proc 37:2301–2307Google Scholar
  13. Grassi B, Kayser BEJ, Binzoni T, Marzorati M, Bordini M, Marconi C, Cerretelli P (1992) Peak blood lactate concentration during high acclimatization and deacclimatization in humans. Pflügers Arch 420:R165Google Scholar
  14. Green HJ, Sutton JR, Young P, Cymerman A, Houston CS (1989) Operation Everest II: muscle energetics during maximal exhaustive exercise. J Appl Physiol 66:142–150Google Scholar
  15. Grover RF (1963) Basal oxygen uptake in man at high altitude. J Appl Physiol 18:909–912Google Scholar
  16. Guilland JC, Klepping J (1985) Nutritional alterations at high altitude in man. Eur J Appl Physiol 54:517–523Google Scholar
  17. Hannon JP, Klain GJ, Sudman DM, Sullivan FJ (1976) Nutritional aspects of high altitude exposure in women. Am J Clin Nutr 29:604–613Google Scholar
  18. Jones PRM, Pearson J (1969) Anthropometric determination of leg fat and muscle plus bone volumes in young male and female adults. J Physiol 204:66P-67PGoogle Scholar
  19. Kayser BEJ, Hoppeler H, Claassen H, Cerretelli P (1991) Muscle ultrastructure and performance capacity of himalayan Sherpas. J Appl Physiol 74:1938–1942Google Scholar
  20. Milledge JS, Thomas PS, Beeley JM, English JSC (1988) Hypoxic ventilatory response and acute mountain sickness. Eur Respir J 1:948–951Google Scholar
  21. Morrison WL, Gibson JNA, Scrimgeour C, Rennie MJ (1988) Muscle wasting in emphysema. Clin Sci 75:415–420Google Scholar
  22. Pugh LGC (1962) Physiological and medical aspects of a Himalayan scientific and mountaineering expedition. BMJ 11:621–637Google Scholar
  23. Rennie MJ, Babij P, Sutton JR, et al (1983) Effects of acute hypoxia on forearm leucine metabolism. Prog Clin Biol Res 136:317–323Google Scholar
  24. Rose MS, Houston CS, Fulco CS, Coates G, Sutton JR, Cymerman A (1988) Operation Everest II: nutrition and body composition. J Appl Physiol 65:2545–2551Google Scholar
  25. Sapir DG, Walser M (1977) Nitrogen sparing induced in early starvation by infusion of branched chain amino ketoacids. Metabolism 23:301–309Google Scholar
  26. Sridharan K, Malhotra MS, Upadhayay TN, Grover SK, Dua GL (1982) Changes in gastro-intestinal function in humans at an altitude of 3500 m. Eur J Appl Physiol 50:148–154Google Scholar
  27. Stock MJ, Norgan NG, Ferro-Luzzi A, Evans E (1978) Effect of altitude on dietary induced thermogenesis at rest during light exercise in man. J Appl Physiol 45:345–349Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Schena
    • 1
  • F. Guerrini
    • 2
  • P. Tregnaghi
    • 2
  • B. Kayser
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Human PhysiologyUniversity of VeronaVeronaItaly
  2. 2.Institute of Sports MedicineVeronaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Physiology, CMUGeneva 4Switzerland

Personalised recommendations