20 Grams of BCAA’s Enhance Muscle Recuperation
by: Robbie Durand
Branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplementation has been shown to increase protein synthesis and decrease muscle protein breakdown. BCAA are a group of essential amino acids that are a major substrate for protein synthesis and recovery. Several studies have shown that BCAAs can reduce muscle soreness, but researchers wanted to examine if BCAA could reduce muscle soreness from an intense plyometric exercise. Plyometric exercises combine eccentric and concentric muscle actions, optimizing your muscle’s capacity to generate power. Power is the ability to produce force rapidly. Plyometric exercise cause severe muscle damage is often accompanied by severe muscle soreness.
Researchers wanted to examine if BCAA supplementation could prevent muscle soreness and enhance muscle recuperation from plyometric exercise. The research study was based on a 12 day testing period. Participants consumed either the BCAA supplement or a placebo for the duration of the study, which included a seven-day ‘loading’ phase; on day eight the damaging exercise was performed. Participants ingested 10 g, twice per day (morning and evening) of either BCAA or placebo. The BCAA supplement contained a ratio of 2:1:1 leucine, isoleucine, and valine, respectively.
Participants performed a total of 100 drop jumps from a height of 0.6 m. Five sets of 20 drop-jumps were carried out with a 10 s interval between each jump and a 2 min rest between sets. This protocol has been previously shown to cause significant elevations in muscle damage indices.
At the end of the study, the BCAA supplementation group reduced the adverse effects of damaging exercise by reducing muscle soreness and improving recovery of muscle function to a greater extent than a placebo control. Markers of muscle damage (i.e. creatine kinase) response were less in the BCAA group suggesting that BCAA supplementation reduced muscle damage.
In summary, these data offer unique information on the application of BCAA supplementation. A 20 g/day supplementation regimen administered seven days prior to (with additional 20 g immediately before and following the damaging exercise) and for four days after a damaging bout of eccentric biased exercise reduced soreness and the plasma level of intramuscular enzymes. The present study has shown that BCAA administered before and following damaging resistance exercise reduces indices of muscle damage and accelerates recovery in resistance-trained males. It seems likely that BCAA provided greater bioavailability of substrate to improve protein synthesis and thereby the extent of secondary muscle damage associated with strenuous resistance exercise.
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