Take branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) in large doses for less muscle soreness and a greater work capacity. A recent study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition shows that taking BCAAs is a simple strategy for getting better results from training.
This study is important because it is one of the first to use a week-long “loading” period in which participants took 20 grams of BCAAs and then took bolus doses of 20 grams of BCAAs immediately before and after a fast eccentric training protocol. The exercise protocol included 100 drops jumps with a maximal effort rebound jump, which would normally produce significant muscle damage leading to delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
Results showed that compared to a placebo group, the BCAA group reported much less muscle soreness and had lower biomarkers of inflammation, as measured by creatine kinase. Creatine kinase is commonly used to test muscle damage after hard training and elevated levels indicate damage to the sarcolemma of the muscle fiber, which cause enzymes to “leak” from the cell into the blood. Less creatine kinase indicates that the BCAAs helped maintain the integrity of cell membranes during training, leading to less damage and subsequent muscle soreness.
The BCAA group recovered maximal strength faster than the placebo group, indicating enhanced protein synthesis to restore function. The findings suggest that adequately supplementing with BCAAs is more beneficial for recovery and performance than other popular methods including cold water immersion, antioxidant supplementation, NSAIDs, and the use of nutritional interventions and ergogenic aids, such as taking creatine or caffeine.
Researchers stress that the key for better performance and rapid recovery with BCAAs is to take a large dose before and after training in order to increase the immediate pool of amino acids available for protein synthesis. The regular Poliquin readership is aware that the very BEST results will come if you also take BCAAs during training in addition to before and after. Why not provide the body with a consistent pool of muscle building blocks while you are trashing your muscle fibers?
To read more about how BCAAs can help you get results, check out The Benefits of BCAAs
Howatson, G., Hoad, M., et al. Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage is Reduced in Resistance-Trained Males by BCAAs. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2012. 9(20).