Skip to main content
Log in

The effect of acute branched-chain amino acid supplementation on prolonged exercise capacity in a warm environment

  • Original Article
  • Published:
European Journal of Applied Physiology Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Abstract

Eight males were recruited to examine the effect of branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplementation on exercise capacity in a glycogen-depleted state in a warm environment. Following a exercise and dietary regimen designed to reduce glycogen availability, subjects returned to the laboratory the following morning and remained seated for 2 h, before cycling to volitional exhaustion at 50%O2 peak in a warm environment [30.0 (0.2)°C; mean (SD)]. Four 250 ml aliquots of a 12 g l−1 BCAA solution or placebo were ingested at 30 min intervals prior to exercise, with an additional 150 ml consumed every 15 min throughout exercise. BCAA ingestion had no effect on exercise capacity [placebo 103.9 (26.9) min; BCAA 111.0 (29.2) min; P=0.129). No difference in heart rate (P=0.345), core temperature (P=0.628), or weighted mean skin temperature (P=0.114) was apparent between trials. Ingestion of the BCAA solution produced a marked increase in plasma BCAA immediately prior to exercise [+1126 (158) μmol l−1; P<0.001) with this difference maintained throughout. Consequently, a significant reduction in the plasma concentration ratio of free tryptophan to BCAA was observed during the BCAA trial when compared to the placebo (P<0.001). Plasma ammonia concentration was significantly elevated during exercise throughout the BCAA trial (P<0.001), with no change from rest apparent during the placebo trial (P=0.608). Blood glucose (P=0.114) and lactate (P=0.836) concentrations were not different between trials. Ingestion of a BCAA solution prior to, and during, prolonged exercise in glycogen-depleted subjects did not influence exercise capacity in a warm environment.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

Similar content being viewed by others

References

  • Bakheit AM, Behan PO, Dinan TG, Gray CE, O’Keane V (1992) Possible upregulation of hypothalamic 5-hydroxytryptamine receptors in patients with postviral fatigue syndrome. BMJ 304:1010–1012

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Blomstrand E, Hassmen P, Ekblom B, Newsholme EA (1991) Administration of branched-chain amino acids during sustained exercise-effects on performance and on plasma concentration of some amino acids. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 63:83–88

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Blomstrand E, Andersson S, Hassmen P, Ekblom B, Newsholme EA (1995) Effect of branched-chain amino acid and carbohydrate supplementation on the exercise-induced change in plasma and muscle concentration of amino acids in human subjects. Acta Physiol Scand 153:87–96

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Blomstrand E, Hassmen P, Ek S, Ekblom B, Newsholme EA (1997) Influence of ingesting a solution of branched-chain amino acids on perceived exertion during exercise. Acta Physiol Scand 159:41–49

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Bloxam DL, Warren WH (1974) Error in the determination of tryptophan by the method of Denkla and Dewey. A revised procedure. Anal Biochem 60:621–625

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Borg GA (1982) Psychophysical bases of perceived exertion. Med Sci Sports Exerc 14:377–381

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Bridge MW, Weller AS, Rayson M, Jones DA (2003) Responses to exercise in the heat related to measures of hypothalamic serotonergic and dopaminergic function. Eur J Appl Physiol 89:451–459

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Calders P, Pannier JL, Matthys DM, Lacroix EM (1997) Pre-exercise branched-chain amino acid administration increases endurance performance in rats. Med Sci Sports Exerc 29:1182–1186

    Google Scholar 

  • Calders P, Matthys D, Derave W, Pannier JL (1999) Effect of branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), glucose, and glucose plus BCAA on endurance performance in rats. Med Sci Sports Exerc 31:583–587

    Google Scholar 

  • Chaouloff F, Elghozi JL, Guezennec Y, Laude D (1985) Effects of conditioned running on plasma, liver and brain tryptophan and on brain 5-hydroxytryptamine metabolism of the rat. Br J Pharmacol 86:33–41

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Davis JM, Bailey SP (1997) Possible mechanisms of central nervous system fatigue during exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 29:45–57

    Google Scholar 

  • Davis JM, Bailey SP, Woods JA, Galiano FJ, Hamilton MT, Bartoli WP (1992) Effects of carbohydrate feedings on plasma free tryptophan and branched-chain amino acids during prolonged cycling. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 65:513–519

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Dill DB, Costill DL (1974) Calculation of percentage changes in volumes of blood, plasma, and red cells in dehydration. J Appl Physiol 37:247–248

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Fernstrom JD (2000) Can nutrient supplements modify brain function? Am J Clin Nutr 71:1669S–7165S

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Galloway SD, Maughan RJ (1997) Effects of ambient temperature on the capacity to perform prolonged cycle exercise in man. Med Sci Sports Exerc 29:1240–1249

    Google Scholar 

  • Gibala MJ (2001) Regulation of skeletal muscle amino acid metabolism during exercise. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 11:87–108

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gibala MJ, Lozej M, Tarnopolsky MA, McLean C, Graham TE (1999) Low glycogen and branched-chain amino acid ingestion do not impair anaplerosis during exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol 87:1662–1667

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gleeson M, Maughan RJ (1987) A simple enzymatic fluorimetric method for the determination of branched-chain l-amino acids in microlitre volumes of plasma. Clin Chim Acta 166:163–169

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gomez-Merino D, Bequet F, Berthelot M, Riverain S, Chennaoui M, Guezennec CY (2001) Evidence that the branched-chain amino acid l-valine prevents exercise-induced release of 5-HT in rat hippocampus. Int J Sports Med 22:317–322

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Gonzalez-Alonso J, Teller C, Andersen SL, Jensen FB, Hyldig T, Nielsen B (1999) Influence of body temperature on the development of fatigue during prolonged exercise in the heat. J Appl Physiol 86:1032–1039

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Hall G van, Raaymakers JS, Saris WH, Wagenmakers AJ (1995) Ingestion of branched-chain amino acids and tryptophan during sustained exercise in man: failure to affect performance. J Physiol (Lond) 486: 789–794

    Google Scholar 

  • Hargreaves M, Febbraio M (1998) Limits to exercise performance in the heat. Int J Sports Med 19 [Suppl 2]:S115–116

    Google Scholar 

  • Jakeman PM, Hawthorne JE, Maxwell SR, Kendall MJ, Holder G (1994) Evidence for downregulation of hypothalamic 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor function in endurance-trained athletes. Exp Physiol 79:461–464

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lee TF, Mora F, Myers RD (1985) Dopamine and thermoregulation: an evaluation with special reference to dopaminergic pathways. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 9:589–598

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lemon PW, Mullin JP (1980) Effect of initial muscle glycogen levels on protein catabolism during exercise. J Appl Physiol 48:624–629

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Lin MT, Tsay HJ, Su WH, Chueh FY (1998) Changes in extracellular serotonin in rat hypothalamus affect thermoregulatory function. Am J Physiol 274:R1260–1267

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Madsen K, MacLean DA, Kiens B, Christensen D (1996) Effects of glucose, glucose plus branched-chain amino acids, or placebo on bike performance over 100 km. J Appl Physiol 81:2644–2650

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Maughan RJ (1982) A simple, rapid method for the determination of glucose, lactate, pyruvate, alanine, 3-hydroxybutyrate and acetoacetate on a single 20-μl blood sample. Clin Chim Acta 122:231–240

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Meeusen R, Piacentini MF, Van Den Eynde S, Magnus L, De Meirleir K (2001) Exercise performance is not influenced by a 5-HT reuptake inhibitor. Int J Sports Med 22:329–336

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Mittleman KD, Ricci MR, Bailey SP (1998) Branched-chain amino acids prolong exercise during heat stress in men and women. Med Sci Sports Exerc 30:83–91

    Google Scholar 

  • Newsholme EA, Acworth I, Blomstrand E (1987) Amino acids, brain neurotransmitters and a function link between muscle and brain that is important in sustained exercise. In: Benzi G (ed) Advances in myochemistry. Libbey Eurotext, London, pp 127–133

  • Nielsen B (1992) Heat stress causes fatigue! Exercise performance during acute and repeated exposures to hot, dry environments. In: Sejersted OM (ed) Muscle fatigue mechanisms in exercise and training, vol 34. Karger, Basel, pp 207–217

  • Nielsen B, Nybo L (2003) Cerebral changes during exercise in the heat. Sports Med 33:1–11

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Nybo L, Nielsen B, Blomstrand E, Moller K, Secher N (2003) Neurohumoral responses during prolonged exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol 95:1125–1131

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Peronnet F, Massicotte D (1991) Table of nonprotein respiratory quotient: an update. Can J Sports Sci 16:23–29

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Pitsiladis YP, Strachan AT, Davidson I, Maughan RJ (2002) Hyperprolactinaemia during prolonged exercise in the heat: evidence for a centrally mediated component of fatigue in trained cyclists. Exp Physiol 87:215–226

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ramanathan LM (1964) A new weighting system for mean surface temperature of the human body. J Appl Physiol 19:531–532

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Shirreffs SM, Taylor AJ, Leiper JB, Maughan RJ (1996) Post-exercise rehydration in man: effects of volume consumed and drink sodium content. Med Sci Sports Exerc 28:1260–1271

    Google Scholar 

  • Strachan AT, Maughan RJ (1998) Platelet serotonin transporter density and related parameters in endurance-trained and sedentary male subjects. Acta Physiol Scand 163:165–171

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Strachan AT, Leiper JB, Maughan RJ (2004) Serotonin 2c receptor blockade and thermoregulation during exercise in a warm environment. Med Sci Sports Exerc (in press)

  • Struder HK, Hollmann W, Platen P, Donike M, Gotzmann A, Weber K (1998) Influence of paroxetine, branched-chain amino acids and tyrosine on neuroendocrine system responses and fatigue in humans. Horm Metab Res 30:188–194

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Struder HK, Hollmann W, Platen P, Wostmann R, Weicker H, Molderings GJ (1999) Effect of acute and chronic exercise on plasma amino acids and prolactin concentrations and on [3H]ketanserin binding to serotonin2A receptors on human platelets. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol 79:318–324

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Verger P, Aymard P, Cynobert L, Anton G, Luigi R (1994) Effects of administration of branched-chain amino acids vs. glucose during acute exercise in the rat. Physiol Behav 55:523–526

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wagenmakers AJ, Hall G van (1996) Branched-chain amino acids: nutrition and metabolism in exercise. In: Shirreffs SM (ed) Biochemistry of exercise IX. Human Kinetics, Champaign, IL, pp 431–443

  • Watson P, Strachan AT, Shirreffs SM, Maughan RJ (2002) Branched-chain amino acids and prolonged exercise capacity in a warm environment (abstract). Proc Nutr Soc 61:109A

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ronald J. Maughan.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Watson, P., Shirreffs, S.M. & Maughan, R.J. The effect of acute branched-chain amino acid supplementation on prolonged exercise capacity in a warm environment. Eur J Appl Physiol 93, 306–314 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-004-1206-2

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-004-1206-2

Keywords

Navigation