There has been a lot of attention surrounding BCAA (branched chain amino acids) supplementation lately in relation to performance and recovery. The questions vary from "Who can take it?" "What can I expect from taking it long term?" to "How often can I take this?" "Do I have to take time off to give my body a break?".
In this article we'd like to address the main takeaways of what makes BCAA's a great supplement to take to help your body recover.
1. BCAAs kick-start protein synthesis within our muscles – leading to a gain in lean muscle mass.
2. BCAAs have been studied and proven to reduce the amount of muscle fiber damage during an intense workout.
3. Individuals that have taken BCAA supplements have stated that the amount of stiffness, tenderness, and pain following exercise is noticeably reduced in comparison to individuals that have not taken the supplement.
Our body requires nine essential amino acids to maintain normal body functions. Among the nine, there are three essential that are considered “branch-chained amino acids” (BCAAs) which include: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
These are especially important to athletes because they promote protein production within the skeletal muscle and help reduce break-down. BCAAs are oxidized in the muscle, rather than the liver like the other essential amino acids. Why is this important to us? Without proper protein synthesis within our skeletal muscle, we can never gain lean muscle mass!
When we perform intense exercise, BCAA oxidation is further enhanced in the muscle; because of this, it has been studied that supplementation will protect our muscles and further assist in post-exercise recovery. Usually “delayed onset muscle soreness” (DOMS), which includes stiffness, tenderness, and pain during movement, starts to occur within 24-48 hours following an intense exercise performance. DOMS is thought to happen because of muscle fiber damage during intense workouts. Because of this, your next exercise bout may suffer. According to a study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, it was reported that oral BCAA administration before and after 120 minutes of cycling decreased the amount of muscle damage. This was proven by measuring certain enzymes in the blood that quantify muscle breakdown for scientists. The results of this particular study demonstrated that supplementation with BCAAs to a diet already rich in BCAAs significantly decreased occurrence of muscle damage following intense and prolonged exercise. Another study was performed in the American Journal of Physiology that found that BCAAs can prevent protein breakdown within the muscles by sparing essential amino acids in muscle tissue.
Here at JBN, many of our fantastic products already contain extra BCAAs. For example, our Growtein (known as a lean muscle mass gainer) and Recovery fuel (best suited as a post-endurance workout protein powder) both contain BCAA’s, because we believe that they will help you best recover from your exercise and inhibit muscle breakdown. In addition, we sell BCAA powder that can be added to any of your favorite beverages, for example many of our customers like to add it to their “during” workout beverage and also like to add it to their post-workout protein shake!
- Shimomura Y, Murakami T, Nakai N, Nagasaki M, Harris RA. Exercise promotes BCAA catabolism: effects of BCAA supplementation on skeletal muscle during exercise. J Nutr. 2004;134:1583S.
- Negro M, Giardina S, Marzani B, Marzatico F. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle recovery and the immune system. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2008;48:347.
- Borgenvik M, Apró W, Blomstrand E, et al. Intake of branched-chain amino acids influences the levels of MAFbx mRNA and MuRF-1 total protein in resting and exercising human muscle. American journal of physiology.Endocrinology and metabolism. 2012; 2011;302:E510.
- Md. Monirujjaman and Afroza Ferdouse, “Metabolic and Physiological Roles of Branched-Chain Amino Acids,”Advances in Molecular Biology, vol. 2014, Article ID 364976, 6 pages, 2014. doi:10.1155/2014/364976