Can BCAA supplements improve exercise performance?
BCAA supplements are used as an energy source during exercise
BCAA is efficiently used as an energy source for muscles during exercise. If the use of sugar (carbohydrates) is suppressed, the production of lactic acid is also suppressed, and this makes it possible to maintain exercise performance.
We studied whether BCAA intake increases the lactate threshold (LT), which is an indicator of endurance ability.
Eight male athletes were asked to drink 3 bottles per day of a beverage containing BCAA or a control beverage (6,000 milligrams of BCAA per day) for 6 days. On the 7th day they performed incremental exercise stress tests*1 on a bicycle ergometer*2.
They drank 1 bottle of either the beverage containing BCAA or the control beverage 15 minutes before the incremental exercise tests. Their LT levels were calculated based on the amount of lactic acid in their blood during exercise and the changes were studied.
- *1Incremental exercise stress test: a test which gradually increases the exercise load
- *2Bicycle ergometer: A device imitating a static bicycle, with an exercise load that can be observed along with the biological reaction (Source: Asakura Shoten Nutrition / Biochemistry Dictionary)
The chart on the left shows one representative example of the data. The chart on the right shows the average values for all subjects adjusted for standard deviation.
* Indicates a significant difference (p<0.05) with the control beverage group.
Source: J.Nutr.Sci.Vitaminol p52,55,2009 partially revised
As can be seen in the chart, the results of the representative example indicate that, unlike the control beverage group, the BCAA beverage group's LT value shifted to the right. The average LT values also increased significantly in the BCAA beverage group.
Conclusion: Regular intake of BCAA helps maintain exercise performance
These results suggest that when BCAA is ingested regularly when your body is in good condition, BCAA can be used efficiently as an energy source during exercise, and has the potential to help maintain good performance.