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Consuming a supplement containing branched-chain amino acids during a resistance-training program increases lean mass, muscle strength and fat loss

Background

A randomized, double-blind study was performed to evaluate the efficacy of consuming a supplement containing branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) during an eight-week resistance-training program.

Methods

Thirty-six strength-trained males with a minimum of two years resistance-training experience (25.5 yrs, 177.7 cm, 85.2 kg and 9.3% body fat) were randomly assigned to receive either 14 grams of BCAAs (n = 12), 28 grams of whey protein (n = 12), or 28 grams of carbohydrates from a sports drink (n = 12) while performing an eight-week resistance-training program. Participants followed a periodized, whole-body training program that involved training all major muscle groups once per week using a four-day training split. Subjects body weight, body composition, and 10-rep max on the bench press and squat were determined before and after the eight-week training program. Subjects followed a standardized diet while following the program.

Results

All groups had a 100% compliance with the study protocol. The BCAA group experienced a significantly greater gain in body weight than the whey group (2 ± 1 kg vs. 1 ± 1 kg; p < 0.02) and the carbohydrate group (2 ± 1 kg vs. 1 ± 1 kg; p < 0.01). For lean mass, the BCAA group gained significantly greater lean mass than the whey group (4 ± 1 kg vs. 2 ± 1 kg; p < 0.01) and the carbohydrate group (4 ± 1 kg vs. 1 ± 1 kg; p < 0.01). The whey group also gained significantly more lean mass than the carbohydrate group (2 ± 1 kg vs. 1 ± 1 kg; p < 0.02). BCAA group decreased their percent body fat significantly more than the whey group (2 ± 1% vs. 1 ± 1%; p = 0.039) and the carbohydrate group (2 ± 1% vs. 1 ± 1%; p < 0.01). Muscular strength was significantly greater in the BCAA group on the 10-RM bench press than the whey group (6 ± 3 kg vs. 3 ± 2 kg; p < 0.01) and the carbohydrate group (6 ± 3 kg vs. 2 ± 2 kg; p < 0.01). For the squat, the BCAA group gained significantly more strength on their 10-RM than the whey group (11 ± 5 kg vs. 5 ± 3 kg; p < 0.01) and the carbohydrate group (11 ± 5 kg vs. 3 ± 2 kg; p < 0.01).

Conclusion

Ingestion of a supplement containing BCAAs while following an 8-week resistance training program resulted in a greater decrease in percent body fat, an increase in lean mass, and 10-RM strength gains on the bench press and squat vs. ingestion of a whey supplement or a sports drink. In addition, the ingestion of a whey protein supplement resulted in greater lean mass gains than ingestion of a sports drink.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Scivation, Inc., Graham, NC, for funding this research.

Author information

Correspondence to Jim Stoppani.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Keywords

  • Whey Protein
  • Lean Mass
  • Bench Press
  • Sport Drink
  • Carbohydrate Group