Most information on supplementation on the Internet is hawked by stake holders, pyramid schemers, sponsored athletes and, of course, people that want a short cut. I am none of the above!
I decided to do my own research on BCAAs—if you don’t care to read further—in a nut shell, if you train hard, take them. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) consist of leucine, isoleucine and valine, which comprise an overwhelming majority of the amino acids your body needs for recovery and hypertrophy.
Anecdotally, many hard-training muscle heads swear by BCAAs; it’s not just bro science. Countless studies demonstrate BCAAs decrease fatigue in aerobic and anaerobic athletes and play a vital role in protein synthesis.
One of the most respected names in the field of exercise science, Dr. William J. Kraemer, from the University of Connecticut led a study showing, in a state of overreaching for two weeks, strength performances were not inhibited for a control group supplementing with BCAAs and strength performances went to hell in a hand basket with the group using a placebo.
Intentional overreaching is part of many athletes’ training plans. Supplementation with BCAAs has huge implications for performance and hypertrophy.
Bottom line, if training hard, heavy and with high volume fits your mortis operandi—you can benefit from BCAA a supplementation.
Hopping across the pond to Japan, a 2010 study published in the International Journal Of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism showed that women with no lifting experience supplementing with 100 mgs of BCAAs per kilogram of bodyweight prior to squatting seven sets of 20 reps had significantly less delayed onset of muscle soreness (DOMS) than the a placebo group. Moreover, force production capabilities decreased 20 percent in the placebo group 48 hours after training but was unchanged with the group that supplemented with BCAAs.
A 2011 study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism suggested BCAA supplementation in sports that change in intensity and require rapid responses to external signals, because a 10 percent faster reaction time was seen by a group that supplemented with seven grams of BCAAs prior to conditions that simulated a soccer game over a placebo group.
In 2011, another study showed BCAA supplementation prior to intense exercise decreased lactate production. Lactate production in itself does not bring on fatigue, but the inability to use lactate as fuel does. When lactate is produced faster than it is used for fuel, fatigue results; a buffer zone exists you cannot surpass—by dropping lactate production, this buffer zone expands-ergo your lactate threshold is increased.
In conclusion—if you train hard, I recommend supplementing with BCAAs.
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