Sport Sciences for Health

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 265–279 | Cite as

Effect of BCAA supplementation on central fatigue, energy metabolism substrate and muscle damage to the exercise: a systematic review with meta-analysis

  • Razie Hormoznejad
  • Ahmad Zare Javid
  • Anahita MansooriEmail author
Review Article


Background and aims: Current state of evidence recommends beneficial effects of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) on exercise performance; however, randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of BCAA supplementation yield discordant results. The objective of this study was to clarify the effects of BCAA supplementation in exercise through meta-analysis of all relevant RCTs.

Methods: A comprehensive search of PubMed, Embase, ISI web of science, and the Cochrane library has been conducted from inception to September 2016. This meta-analysis includes 31 primary trials of the effect of BCAA supplementation on central fatigue, fatigue substances (lactate and ammonia), energy metabolites (glucose and free fatty acids) and, muscle damage substances (LDH and CK). The estimates were either obtained from a fixed-effects model or a random-effects model. The studies’ heterogeneity was calculated by Cochrane’s test and I2 index.

Results: BCAA had no effect on central fatigue (SMD − 0.31, 95% CI − 0.72 to 0.09; p = 0.1; heterogeneity I2 = 0%, p = 0.9). However, a significant reduction was detected in the lactate levels (WMD − 0.16, 95% CI − 0.26 to − 0.53; p = 0.003; heterogeneity I2 = 47.9%, p = 0.023). Moreover, BCAA supplementation had beneficial effects on ammonia, glucose, FFA, and CK, but had no effects on LDH.

Conclusion: BCAA supplementation did not have any effect on the feeling of fatigue; however, it led to a favorable effect on fatigue substances, energy metabolites and muscle soreness substances. Therefore, it can be concluded that the ingestion of the BCAA can play a helpful role in the enhancement of the exercise performance.


BCAA Exercise fatigue Exercise damage Athletic performance 



The authors are indebted to all the researchers whom we cited in this review for their significant and valuable research.


This work was financially supported by a grant (97s32) from Vice-Chancellor for Research Affairs of Ahvaz Jundishapur University of Medical Sciences.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia S.r.l., part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nutrition and Metabolic Diseases Research CenterAhvaz Jundishapur University of Medical SciencesAhvazIran
  2. 2.Student Research CommitteeAhvaz Jundishapur University of Medical SciencesAhvazIran
  3. 3.Department of Nutrition, Faculty of Allied Medical SciencesAhvaz Jundishapur University of Medical SciencesAhvazIran

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