The purpose of the study was to evaluate what kind of an effect ingesting an amino acid supplement (BCAA) has on various markers of performance in the gym, as well as on muscle growth, muscle damage (creatine kinase) and muscular soreness.
This is an important topic because many believe that taking BCAA supplements is essential for improving performance and improving body composition. It's even more important because they are often quite expensive, with little unquestionable evidence backing them.
The researchers used 15 resistance trained males that had been exercising for at least 6 months for multiple training sessions per week.
Participants were placed into one of two groups:
The amino acid supplement
This amino acid supplement was a Dymatize BCAA supplement. The ingredients are as follows:
Basically, this was a typical 2:1:1 BCAA supplement that is intended to be ingested during a training session for improved performance.
Subjects ingested the supplement or placebo every 15 minutes during the protocol, spread out over 4 equal doses.
As I anticipated, there was literally no benefit of taking the BCAA supplement on performance or any other thing measured.
2. Participants trained with 75% loads, not to failure, apart from the last superset. While absolute failure isn't a major requirement, there is a chance that using these pre-prescribed loading protocols could mean that the subjects were not exposed to a large enough stimulus to promote growth. So that must be kept in mind.
3. I just have to go back to the short duration. If this study was over the course of at least 12 weeks, I might be able to draw significant conclusions. Despite this, the results are not surprising.
Additionally, I've addressed this issue before. There just isn't good enough reason to purchase stand alone BCAAs. Disagree? Come at me. In my opinion, if you think that taking an intra-workout BCAA supplement is going to make a long term discernible difference in growth and performance, I think you should probably re-think your training program in the first place.
Not to mention, taking whey would be a far superior choice due to being less expensive and also providing a complete amino acid source actually needed for growth. If you want a more in-depth explanation of my thoughts regarding this, please read this post.
There are otherwise some arguments that BCAAs will help combat fatigue, but for me the evidence just simply isn't strong enough. If you disagree with that, cool. I just don't believe that long term it will make a huge difference, especially for someone of trained status.
Why this should matter to you
It should matter because it means you can probably pass up purchasing free-form BCAAs. Further, the next time someone tells you that you need them, you can be armed to defend yourself.
Not to mention, if you can take whey, it's much cheaper, has BCAAs AND all of the other essential amino acids needed to actually synthesize new proteins.
Additionally, this was funded by Dymatize, a major supplement provider of BCAAs. So the next time you hear someone spouting off about funding being a confounding factor, you can shut them down. Studies require money. This is no different. And bravo to Dymatize for continuing to publish the results in spite of them showing no benefit of the supplement at hand.
Smith, J., Krings, B., Peterson, T., Rountree, J., Zak, R., & Mcallister, M. (2017). Ingestion of an Amino Acid Electrolyte Beverage during Resistance Exercise Does Not Impact Fluid Shifts into Muscle or Performance. Sports,5(2), 36. doi:10.3390/sports5020036
Read my other full length article about why I think BCAAs are bullshit and why I don't take them.
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