What makes BCAAs (branch-chain amino acids) is their chemical structure- each contain “side chain” of one carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms. BCAAs are used to produce protein in the body. In general, BCAA supplements are associated with bodybuilders, but lately research has shown that runners, especially endurance runners can benefit from taking BCAA supplements.
Branch-chain amino acids- leucine, isoleucine, and valine are essential, but not produced naturally by the body. Our body can only get BCAAs through nutrition or supplements. BCAAs have several benefits for endurance runners; a great energy source, helps with muscle tissue recovery, and most importantly, it improves the immune system which tends to get depleted following intense training or running. When our glycogen levels are low, our body can metabolize these amino acids and use them as an energy source. When running long distances or doing intense endurance training our body is not able to get enough BCAAs from food alone, so to take supplements will lower the risk of illnesses, low energy levels and muscle soreness.
Low levels of BCAAs are also associated with central fatigue syndrome, when we are training for a long-distance race, or going through an intense racing season, our levels of branch-chain amino acids tend to get low, which often results in symptoms of central fatigue. BCAA supplements will ensure faster recovery, will increase the energy levels allowing for better quality training sessions. Research has also shown that taking BCAA supplements lowers a runner’s perceived exertion, allowing to feel better during long-distance training sessions and races.
Benefits of BCAAs:
– Helps w/ muscle and energy production during exercise
– Reduces protein and muscle breakdown during intense exercise
– Reduces muscle soreness
– Speeds up recovery
– Improves glucose intake
– Helps build up lean body mass
– Helps w/ weight loss and less belly fat
– Prevents central fatigue from intense and long-distance training
For people who train at low intensity and run shorter distances, if they consume the recommended minimum daily protein intake (Men- 56g, Women- 46g), they should get enough BCAAs through natural foods. But for long-distance runners and athletes, taking BCAA supplements will help keeping up with the training and racing, with muscle and energy recovery. Endurance athletes should also increase their daily protein intake to a minimum of 1g/kg bodyweight for women and 1.76g/kg bodyweight for men.
Foods high in BCAAs:
– Red meat
– Soy protein, Whey protein
– Baked Beans
– Lima beans
– Brown rice
– Whole wheat
– Nuts (almonds, cashews)
A great recovery supplement product that contains BCAA, protein, calcium, magnesium is the Overstims BCAA tablets.
Train Hard, Eat Right & Feel Great!