BCAA + taurine for muscle pain

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The importance and benefits of regular exercise in maintaining overall health and preventing aging are well known. However, unaccustomed and sudden exercise leads to a dull ache in the skeletal muscles for several hours or days after exercise, which is called delayed muscle pain syndrome (Eng. DOMS). DOMS is one symptom of muscle damage caused by eccentric exercise.
Muscle injury is characterized by disruption of the cell membrane by mechanical stress, infiltration of inflammatory cells into the injured tissue, and increased production of inflammatory cytokines. Pain resulting from DOMS results in decreased performance and increased muscle strength for up to three weeks.
Branched-chain BCAAs (valine, leucine, and isoleucine) are abundantly catabolized in skeletal muscle and help to inhibit protein breakdown and increase protein synthesis. Many studies have reported that BCAAs attenuate DOMS and exercise-induced muscle damage. However, some studies have not found such an effect. Therefore, combining BCAAs with other anti-inflammatory nutrients may be beneficial in alleviating DOMS and reducing muscle damage.
There is evidence that taurine, which is found in abundance in skeletal muscle, has many physiological and pharmacological properties, including membrane stabilization, antioxidant, osmoregulation, modulation of ion flux, and control of calcium homeostasis, in addition to its role as a neurotransmitter and neuromodulator.
In particular, taurine has been reported to have a cryoprotective effect against free radical-mediated skeletal muscle damage induced by high-speed running in rats. The authors of these studies also confirmed that oral administration of taurine to rats reduced oxidative stress caused by exercise and drugs. Interestingly, a multi-component dietary supplement containing BCAAs and taurine, as well as some B vitamins and plant extracts, reduced inflammation and joint pain in middle-aged people. Therefore, it was decided to conduct a study on whether taurine could enhance the beneficial effects of BCAAs on DOMS and exercise-induced muscle damage.
This study was conducted with 36 male volunteers who did not have any musculoskeletal disorders and who did not engage in regular external resistance training before the start of the study.
Subjects were randomly and equally divided into the following four groups (9 in each group): double placebo supplement control (PLCB); BCAA supplements and placebo (BA); taurine and placebo supplements (TAU); and BCAA and taurine supplements (COMB).
Two weeks before the start of the experimental training, the participants took the substances provided to them after each meal. The study authors chose this timeframe because previous studies have shown a significant increase in muscle taurine concentrations after only two weeks of use.
The sachets of the BCAA/taurine blend contained 3.2 g (9.6 g/day) of BCAA and 2.0 g (6.0 g/day) of taurine, respectively.
Supplementation was continued through the third day after the experimental workout, and on the day of the workout, the supplements or placebo were taken 15 minutes before the start of the workout on an empty stomach. The training itself was a dumbbell curl exercise, but only in the eccentric phase, which lasted 5 seconds with an intensity of 90% of the maximum. In total, 6 sets of 5 repetitions were performed, the rest between sets was 2 minutes.
VAS analog pain scores in all groups were significantly higher on day 1 after exercise compared to pre-workout scores. The VAS scores in the BA and COMB groups peaked on day 1, while those in the PLCB and TAU groups peaked on day 2 (maximum pain began on day 2).
Elevated VAS scores in all groups decreased significantly by day 4. In the COMB (BCAA + taurine) group, VAS values ​​were already significantly lower on day 2 than in the PLCB (placebo) group.
Muscle damage markers were lower in the COMB group, although not significantly. There was a large individual variation in damage markers between participants, so patterns cannot be established. Overall, the present study demonstrated that combined BCAA and taurine supplementation is beneficial in reducing eccentric exercise-induced delayed pain and muscle damage. However, it was not possible to determine whether the combined effects were due to the synergistic effect of both BCAA and taurine or the sum of the individual effects.
Compared to the effectiveness of BCAA supplementation on exercise-induced muscle soreness and damage reported in previous studies, in the present study, BCAA supplementation alone was not sufficient to effectively suppress muscle soreness and damage (perhaps due to a specific exercise protocol – only eccentric, that is, controlled lowering of a projectile with a large weight, in reality, training is more gentle).
In addition, in the present study, oral administration of taurine at a dose of 6 g/day for two weeks significantly increased the concentration of taurine in plasma.
However, a previous human study reported that seven days of oral taurine supplementation (5 g/day) did not alter skeletal muscle or plasma taurine concentrations [2]. A two-week period may be preferable for this.
This study confirmed that the combination of 3.2 g of BCAAs and 2 g of taurine three times a day, two weeks before and three days after training, attenuated several subjective and objective markers of DOMS and muscle damage caused by high-intensity eccentric exercise, which BCAA or taurine supplements alone could not have affected.
Therefore, combined BCAA and taurine supplementation may be a useful strategy to ease DOMS and muscle damage and help motivate beginners to continue with an exercise program, helping athletes train at a higher intensity.

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