Experimental support for the hypothesized benefits of BCAA supplements on endurance performance is limited. However, it is theorized that the benefits may be enhanced if 1) BCAA are taken along with a pre-event carbohydrate meal as well as during exercise, and 2) the exercise is intermittent in nature. This study tested the effects of ingesting carbohydrate beverages with and without BCAA before and during intermittent high-intensity running to fatigue. Eight subjects performed 3 exercise trials consisting of intermittent shuttle running (walking, sprinting, and running) to fatigue. Subjects drank either carbohydrate drinks given 1 h before (5 mL/kg, 18% carbohydrate) and during exercise (2 mL/kg, 6% carbohydrate) (CHO), carbohydrate drinks with BCAA (7 g) added to the portions consumed 1 h before and immediately before exercise (CHO+BCAA), or flavored water placebos (P). Subjects ran longer when fed either CHO or CHO+BCAA as compared to P, with no differences between CHO and CHO+BCAA. CHO and CHO+BCAA also had higher plasma glucose and insulin, and lower FFA (p < 0.05). These findings confirm a beneficial effect ofcarbohydrate feedings on fatigue during exercise designed to mimic the activity pattern that occurs in sports like soccer, basketball, and hockey. They do not, however, support the hypothesis of an added benefit of BCAA supplements.
Int J Sports Med. 20(5):309-314.