Thursday, August 18, 2011

EAT TO GROW : Do BCAAs Increase Muscle and Strength? by Jerry Brainum

Recent research into the nutritional requirements of athletes engaged in intense training have highlighted the importance of taking essential amino acids in increasing muscle protein synthesis. Of the eight amino acids considered to be essential, the branched-chain aminos—leucine, isoleucine and valine—are of considerable anabolic importance. In fact, some studies show that leucine can turn on various mechanisms in the body that lead to upgraded muscle protein synthesis. Despite that, BCAA supplements remain controversial. Some studies have found a definite anabolic response in those taking BCAAs, while others have found little or nothing.

The latest study on the matter featured 10 healthy college-aged men. In a double-blind design, subjects were given either a BCAA supplement or a placebo for three weeks, followed by a week of weight training—four workouts—with continued supplementation. Blood tests were done before and after three weeks of BCAA use, and also after two and four days of training, with the final test done 36 hours after the final training session.

Those in the BCAA group showed significantly higher testosterone counts, along with lower counts of cortisol and creatine kinase, an enzyme that, when elevated, points to amplified muscle damage. That indicates a definite anabolic effect, along with an anticatabolic effect, as reflected in the drops in cortisol and creatine kinase.

The researchers concluded that “use of a postexercise supplementation product high in BCAAs would be useful for a trained individual wishing to increase strength and lean muscle mass, as well as enhance recovery time between workouts.”

Sharp, C.P.M., et al. (2008). Amino acids and recovery from high-intensity resistance training: The role of commercially available branched-chain amino acid supplementation. J Str Cond Res. 22:114.

©,2013 Jerry Brainum. Any reprinting in any type of media, including electronic and foreign is expressly prohibited.

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