Branched-chain amino acids speed exercise recovery

Earlier studies found the three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)—leucine, isoleucine, and valine—have positive effects on moderate muscle damage after exercise, but results vary across studies.

In this review of eight placebo-controlled BCAA trials, doctors combined results from 70 healthy men, average age 23, who took BCAAs while participating in heavy resistance training, soccer, marathon, and other drills such as drop-jump testing.

After exercise, doctors looked for signs of muscle damage in blood samples. Compared to placebo, men in the BCAA group had far lower levels of a type of enzyme—creatine kinase—that signals muscle damage, up to and including 24 hours after exercise.

Discussing the findings, doctors said BCAAs are better than passive recovery or rest after muscle-damaging exercise, and help restore full muscle function and strength sooner.


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