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04.03.2011


Small amount of BCAAs and L-arginine prevents cardio-induced muscle breakdown

A cardio session - especially when done after strength training - has lots of positive health effects, but cardio exercise breaks down muscle tissue. For strength athletes cardio is a double-edged sword. Researchers at Otsuka Pharmaceutical in Japan think you can make one side of the sword less sharp by taking 2 g BCAAs and 0.5 g arginine.


Small amount of BCAAs and L-arginine prevents cardio-induced muscle breakdown


Study
Small amount of BCAAs and L-arginine prevents cardio-induced muscle breakdown

Leucine


Small amount of BCAAs and L-arginine prevents cardio-induced muscle breakdown

Iso-Leucine


Small amount of BCAAs and L-arginine prevents cardio-induced muscle breakdown

Valine

High doses of BCAAs reduce muscle breakdown during physical exercise and boost the body's anabolic response. The researchers wanted to know whether lower doses of BCAAs supplemented with a small amount of L-arginine might do the trick as well.

The Japanese did an experiment with 4 men and 4 women, all of whom were healthy, in their mid-twenties and untrained. The subjects were given breakfast, after which they had to cycle three times for 20 minutes at 50 percent of their maximal intensity. They rested for 5 minutes between each session.

Ten minutes after starting this anything but intensive workout, the subjects took their amino acids, dissolved in a sports drink. The method of administration gives an indication of the researchers' intentions. Then the researchers repeated the experiment, but gave the subjects a placebo.

The researchers measured the amount of amino acids that the subjects absorbed and excreted during the workout via a catheter inserted into the leg. The more amino acids released from leg muscles, the greater the muscle breakdown, the researchers reasoned.

Results
The tables below show the net effect: the uptake of amino acids in the leg muscles minus the release. As you can see, supplementation reduced the release of glutamine and alanine.


Small amount of BCAAs and L-arginine prevents cardio-induced muscle breakdown


Small amount of BCAAs and L-arginine prevents cardio-induced muscle breakdown


The effect was greatest at the end of the workout - during the third session. The figures are for phenylalanine.

If you look at phenylalanine, the mix of BCAAs and L-arginine blocks muscle breakdown almost completely during the third workout.


Small amount of BCAAs and L-arginine prevents cardio-induced muscle breakdown


Conclusion
The anticatabolic effect of the amino acid-laced sports drink would probably have been greater if the test subjects hadn't drunk it during the workout but beforehand. Higher doses would undoubtedly have had a greater anticatabolic effect.

The research results suggest a strategy that could well give strength athletes more benefit from doing cardio after their weight training: take a dose of BCAAs and L-arginine before getting on the treadmill.

Source:
Int J Sports Med. 2007 Jun;28(6):531-8.

More:
By combining BCAAs, citrulline and arginine, swimmers perform better during interval training 20.12.2018
Cocktail of BCAAs, glutamine and arginine boosts oxygen transport 08.12.2010
Lifting weights? BCAAs plus glutamine may raise your testosterone levels 15.05.2010

Archives:
Nutrition & Endurance Training
Nutrition & Strength Training
Amino Acids
L-Arginine
BCAAs


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