Poliquin Live

Tip 217: Take BCAAs and Arginine for a Better Anabolic Response After Training

Thursday, November 17, 2011 9:13 AM
Take BCAAs and arginine after training to increase anabolic response. And if you performed exhausting exercise or have very low body fat, throw some carbs into the mix for best results. BCAAs, or the Branched-Chain Amino Acids, are made up of leucine, isoleucine, valine, lysine, and they are essential for muscle building and recovery. Arginine is another important amino acid that supports protein synthesis and has been shown to increase growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 after training. It also reduces anxiety and can lower cortisol. Pairing arginine and BCAAs is a powerful anabolic mixture, and if you add carbs, you’ll rapidly replenish energy stores from exhausting exercise. 
A new study in the Chinese Journal of Physiology tested the effect of giving a drink of BCAAs, arginine, and carbs (BCAA drink)on hormone response and psychological state after a single bout of exhaustive exercise. Researchers had participants perform two training sessions and gave them a placebo drink post-workout the first time and a BCAA drink the second time.

There was a significant anabolic response after training when the participants drank the BCAA drink that was not seen with the placebo drink. Testosterone was up significantly and the testosterone to cortisol ratio was much more favorable with the BCAA drink. Testosterone was highest at the 120-minute recovery point, highlighting the muscle and tissue remodeling effect of intense exercise and optimal nutrition. Also, glucose and insulin were elevated in the BCAA drink trial, which provides additional evidence of a potent anabolic response.

Participants were also given a mood states profile test to measure psychological condition after the extremely intense workout. Fatigue scores were high immediately following training in both groups, but after the BCAA drink trial, participants recovered much more quickly than after the placebo trial—the decrease in fatigue score at 120 minutes post-workout was significant only in the BCAA trial. This indicates that the right recovery drink is critical, and without it, you’ll  be dead on your feet after intense training and recovery will be delayed. BCAAs and arginine are the best. To read more about the Benefits of BCAAs, check out these Ten Quick Tips.

Hsu, M., Chien, K., et al. Effects of BCAA, Arginine, and Carbohydrate Combined Drink on Post-Exercise Biochemical Response and Psychological Condition. Chinese Journal of Physiology. April 2011. 542), 71-78.

Zajac, A., Peprezecki, S., Zebrowska, A. Chalimoniuk, M., Langfort, J. Arginine and Ornithine Supplementation Increases Growth Hormone and Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 Serum Levels After Heavy-Resistance Exercise in Strength-Trained Athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2010. 24(4), 1082-1090.
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