Journal of Physical Activity Research
ISSN (Print): 2576-1919 ISSN (Online): 2574-4437 Website: Editor-in-chief: Peter Hart
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Journal of Physical Activity Research. 2022, 7(1), 37-46
DOI: 10.12691/jpar-7-1-6
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The Importance of Branched-chain Amino Acids and Nitrate in Sports Performance and Health

Konstantinos D. Tambalis1, 2, and Giannis Arnaoutis1

1Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Harokopio University, Athens, Greece

2Department of Physical Education and Sport Science, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

Pub. Date: March 08, 2022

Cite this paper:
Konstantinos D. Tambalis and Giannis Arnaoutis. The Importance of Branched-chain Amino Acids and Nitrate in Sports Performance and Health. Journal of Physical Activity Research. 2022; 7(1):37-46. doi: 10.12691/jpar-7-1-6


Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) and nitrate have become increasingly popular mainly for their potential effect on individuals' health and secondary as ergogenic aids. The purpose of this narrative review was to incorporate the current scientific evidence of BCAA and nitrate supplementation on athletic performance and health. The current recommendations of BCAA and nitrate supplementation are discussed, as well as possible health complications associated with its intake. Pubmed, Scopus, and Web of Science were searched for articles on the effects of BCAA and nitrate supplementation in humans. The positive effect of BCAAs supplementation on athletic performance does not appear to be fully established. BCAAs supplementation seems to be recommended for all athletes who exercise vigorously daily, as it enhances their recovery after causing exercise-induced muscle damage. BCAAs supplementation reduces the feeling of delayed muscle pain, which follows because of muscle damage. Limited scientific data suggest a potentially beneficial effect of BCAAs on reducing central fatigue. Several clinical conditions could benefit from BCAAs' consumption. However, there are no reliable markers to evaluate or quantify their requirements. There are no exact consumption protocols and absolute recommendations, mainly because BCAAs are also obtained through the consumption of animal protein. Dietary nitrates lower blood pressure, reduce the cost of exercise oxygen, and, at least sometimes, enhance exercise capacity. Taking supplements for 2-6 days (or up to 15 days) can increase athletic performance during high-intensity exercise. The duration of continuous maximum exercise for which nitrates appear to be ergogenic is between 5-30 min. There is limited evidence that nitrates are beneficial in prolonged exercise performance (40 min), at least when administered short term. Supplementation of approximately 5-9 mmol of nitrate/day for 1-15 days may have beneficial effects on normal exercise responses, although the exact dose-response relationship has not yet been established. Five to 9 mmol of nitrates can be easily consumed in the normal diet and there is currently no evidence to adequately document that taking additional nitrates produces greater benefits. The effectiveness of acute nitrate supplementation is likely to depend on many factors, such as sex, health, hypoxia, diet, and level of fitness/training experience of the subjects. Nitrate needs are most likely met by ingesting approximately 250-500 g of leafy and root vegetables per day; however, dietary supplements might represent a more convenient and accurate way of covering an athlete's nitrate needs.

branched-chain amino acids nitrates exercise performance health recommendations

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