BCAA’s Before and After Exercise Enhance Muscle Recovery


Power Up: BCAA’s Before and After Exercise Enhance Muscle Recovery

BCAA’s consist of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine, which can only be provided through food or supplements. BCAAs are unique in that they are metabolized in skeletal muscle. Numerous studies have demonstrated the anabolic and anti-catabolic effects of taking BCAAs, and supplementing your diet with BCAA’s can assist in faster muscle recovery, prolonged endurance and supported metabolic fuel during exercise.

Resistance exercise is a never ending cycle of breaking down muscle and building it back up again.  The BCAA’s are interesting because they are metabolized in the muscle, rather than in the liver.  In fact, a study published by the International Society of Sports Nutrition reported that BCAA supplementation taken before and after “damaging” resistance training reduces signs of muscle damage and accelerates recovery in resistance-trained males. Additional research from the Journal of Nutrition indicates that supplementing with BCAAs before squatting may decrease delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and muscular fatigue for several days post exercise. Another study examining females who were provided with BCAA supplementation (approximately a 2:1:1 ratio favoring leucine) before high volume squat exercises noted the BCAA group (relative to carbohydrate placebo) experienced less soreness and improved muscle strength when measured two days later.

Studies on resting human muscle suggest that administration of BCAAs, particularly leucine, has an anabolic effect on protein metabolism by either supporting the rate of protein synthesis or decreasing the rate of protein degradation or both. One study reported that high BCAA supplementation produced a net anabolic hormonal profile (i.e. supported testosterone and reduced cortisol) while attenuating training-induced increases in muscle tissue damage. BCAAs are not only a substrate for protein synthesis but also modulate several components of the synthetic machinery and help to conserve muscle mass. BCAAs prevent amino acid loss from muscle, support protein synthesis and contribute to regulating serum amino acid levels.

BCAA Before and After Exercise: Gold Standard for Recuperation
Researchers examined the effects of BCAA supplementation on muscle function following a resistance exercise session that featured multi-joint exercises that are typically utilised as part of a strength and conditioning regimen. In a randomised single-blind crossover study, eleven resistance-trained males performed baseline measures of a countermovement jump and seated shot putt throw. Participants were provided with either 20 g of BCAA or a placebo. Each dose was divided into two equal quantities and consumed 5-min before and 5-min after a strength training session consisting of various multi-joint barbell exercises. For both conditions, the countermovement jump and seated shot putt throw were repeated at 24 hours.

At the end of the study, 20 grams of BCAA administered acutely before and following intensive strength training reduced the muscle decline in performance compared to placebo experienced by resistance- trained males. These small but significant effects on muscle function suggest that BCAA is an effective ergogenic aid for athletes who require augmented recovery of power-producing ability following intensive strength training.

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