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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2008 Jul;105(1):241-8. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01346.2007. Epub 2008 May 15.

Resistance training and timed essential amino acids protect against the loss of muscle mass and strength during 28 days of bed rest and energy deficit.

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Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Spaceflight and bed rest (BR) result in losses of muscle mass and strength. Resistance training (RT) and amino acid (AA) supplementation are potential countermeasures to minimize these losses. However, it is unknown if timing of supplementation with exercise can optimize benefits, particularly with energy deficit. We examined the effect of these countermeasures on body composition, strength, and insulin levels in 31 men (ages 31-55 yr) during BR (28 days) followed by active recovery (14 days). Subjects were randomly assigned to essential AA supplementation (AA group, n = 7); RT with AA given 3 h after training (RT group, n = 12); or RT with AA given 5 min before training (AART group, n = 12). Energy intake was reduced by 8 +/- 6%. Midthigh muscle area declined with BR for the AA > RT > AART groups: -11%, -3%, -4% (P = 0.05). Similarly, greatest losses in lower body muscle strength were seen in the AA group (-22%). These were attenuated in the exercising groups [RT (-8%) and AART (-6%; P < 0.05)]. Fat mass and midthigh intramuscular fat increased after BR in the AA group (+3% and +14%, respectively), and decreased in the RT (-5% and -4%) and AART groups (-1 and -5%; P = 0.05). Muscle mass and strength returned toward baseline after recovery, but the AA group showed the lowest regains. Combined resistance training with AA supplementation pre- or postexercise attenuated the losses in muscle mass and strength by approximately two-thirds compared with AA supplement alone during BR and energy deficit. These data support the efficacy of combined AA and RT as a countermeasure against muscle wasting due to low gravity.

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