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This study was conducted to test the hypothesis that a branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplementation would minimize changes in body composition and alterations in plasma amino acid profile induced by prolonged exercises at altitude. Twenty-four highly trained subjects participated in six successive sessions of ski mountaineering (6-8 hr duration, altitude 2,500-4,100 m). Twelve subjects took a dietary supplement of BCAA (BCAA group) and 12 took a dietary supplement that was 98% carbohydrate (C group). Body weight decreased in C subjects (-2.1%,p < .01), while the body weight loss recorded in the BCAA group was not statistically significant (-1.2%, NS). Changes in body composition that resulted from repeated skiing exercise at altitude were not significantly minimized by BCAA administration. Peak power output recorded during an incremental bicycle exercise decreased in C subjects but did not change significantly in BCAA subjects. Results of this study demonstrate that neither changes in body composition related to the ski mountaineering program nor muscular performance during isometric contraction was significantly affected by BCAA administration.

A.X. Bigard, L. Ullmann, H. Legrand, P. Douce, and C.Y. Guezennec are with the Déartment de Physiologie Systernique, CERMA, B.P. 73, 91223 Bretigny-sur-Orge, France. P. Lavier is with the Ecole Militaire de Haute Montagne, 74400 Charnonix, France.