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Leucine Metabolites Do Not Enhance Training-induced Performance or Muscle Thickness

TEIXEIRA, FILIPE J.1; MATIAS, CATARINA N.1,2,3; MONTEIRO, CRISTINA P.1,3; VALAMATOS, MARIA J.3,4; REIS, JOANA F.1,3,5; TAVARES, FRANCISCO6; BATISTA, ANA1; DOMINGOS, CHRISTOPHE1; ALVES, FRANCISCO1,3; SARDINHA, LUÍS B.2,3; PHILLIPS, STUART M.7

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: January 2019 - Volume 51 - Issue 1 - p 56–64
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001754
APPLIED SCIENCES
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Leucine metabolites, α-hydroxyisocaproic acid (α-HICA) and β-hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (calcium, HMB-Ca and free acid, HMB-FA), have been proposed to augment resistance training-induced changes in body composition and performance.

Purpose We aimed to conduct a double-blind randomized controlled pragmatic trial to evaluate the effects of off-the-shelf leucine metabolite supplements of α-HICA, HMB-FA, and HMB-Ca on resistance training-induced changes in muscle thickness and performance.

Methods Forty men were randomly assigned to receive α-HICA (n = 10, fat-free mass [FFM] = 62.0 ± 7.1 kg), HMB-FA (n = 11, FFM = 62.7 ± 10.5 kg), HMB-Ca (n = 9, FFM = 65.6 ± 10.1 kg), or placebo (PLA; n = 10, FFM = 64.2 ± 5.7 kg). The training program consisted of whole body thrice weekly resistance training for 8 wk (seven exercises per session, three to four sets per session, at 70%–80% one repetition maximum). Skeletal muscle thickness by ultrasound, performance measures, and blood measures (creatine kinase, insulin-like growth factor 1, growth hormone, cortisol, and total testosterone) were evaluated at baseline and at the end of weeks 4 and 8.

Results Time-dependent changes were observed for muscle thickness (P < 0.001), one repetition maximum bench press and squat (P < 0.001), Wingate peak power (P = 0.02), countermovement jump height (P = 0.03), power (P = 0.006), creatine kinase, insulin-like growth factor-1, growth hormone, and cortisol (all P < 0.001). No significant between-group or time–group interactions were observed.

Conclusions No leucine metabolite resulted in any ergogenic effects on any outcome variable. Supplementation with leucine metabolites—α-HICA, HMB-FA, or HMB-Ca—is not a supplementation strategy that improves muscle growth and strength development in young adult men.

1Laboratory of Physiology and Biochemistry of Exercise, Faculty of Human Kinetics, Universidade de Lisboa, Cruz Quebrada, PORTUGAL;

2Laboratory of Exercise and Health, Faculty of Human Kinetics, Universidade de Lisboa, Cruz Quebrada, PORTUGAL;

3Center for the Study of Human Performance, Faculty of Human Kinetics, Universidade de Lisboa, Cruz Quebrada, PORTUGAL;

4Neuromuscular Research Lab, Faculty of Human Kinetics, Universidade de Lisboa, Cruz Quebrada, PORTUGAL;

5Faculty of Health and Sports, Universidade Europeia, Laureate International Universities, Lisboa, PORTUGAL;

6Faculty of Health, Sport and Human Performance, The University of Waikato, Hamilton, NEW ZEALAND; and

7Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, CANADA

Address for correspondence: Filipe J. Teixeira, R.D., Laboratory of Physiology and Biochemistry of Exercise, Faculty of Human Kinetics, Universidade de Lisboa, Cruz Quebrada, Portugal, Estrada da Costa 1499-002 Cruz Quebrada-Dafundo Lisboa, Portugal; E-mail: filipe@proviant-labs.com.

Submitted for publication June 2018.

Accepted for publication July 2018.

© 2019 American College of Sports Medicine