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Tip 225: Take BCAAs to Stay Strong Longer: Greater Energy Use and More Fat Burning

Tuesday, November 29, 2011 9:10 AM
Take branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) to burn more fat, train longer, and recover faster. Research shows BCAAs supplementation will help you stay strong longer when performing exhaustive exercise because they increase your body’s ability to use fat stores for energy when your body is low on muscle glycogen. BCAAs are an are essential part of your diet and supplementation protocol if you want to help your body get the maximal benefit from the effort you put in when training.

A new study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness tested the effect of giving participants 300 mg/kg of bodyweight a day for three days prior to a series of physiological tests. On the second day of the study, participants performed a training session that completely depleted their glycogen stores. Then, on the third day they completed an exhaustive exercise test. BCAA supplementation allowed participants to exercise longer and harder than when taking a placebo, indicating that the BCAAs promoted a greater resistance to fatigue. Participants also had better glucose uptake and a better respiratory exchange ratio, indicating that their bodies were working more efficiently.

Researchers suggest the BCAAs increased resistance to fatigue by enhancing the body’s ability to burn fat, which allowed the participants to use more of their stored energy sources in the exercise test.  Previous studies support this, and show that BCAAs allow you to perform at your best and still recover optimally after giving it everything you have. BCAAs support protein synthesis for up to 48 hours after training and when you pair them with arginine—another amino acid—they can help boost your testosterone to cortisol ratio.
Another great benefit of BCAAs is that if you have to take time off from training due to injury, need for a break, or lack of time, taking BCAAs can help minimize muscle and strength loss. A study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology found that giving BCAAs to rats who had their hind-limbs immobilized for six days helped preserve protein synthesis that regulates cell growth. The BCAAs didn’t completely prevent protein degradation and muscle atrophy in the rat’s hind limbs, but it helped preserve the muscle to a greater extent than a placebo.

BCAAs should be taken before, during, and after training, and this new evidence shows that they are beneficial even on off days or when you are taking time off from the gym. To learn more about the many benefits of BCAAs and read about my experience with them, read The Benefits of BCAAs: Ten Quick Tips and Detailed Research.
Bajotto, G., Sato, Y., et al. Effect of BCAA Supplementation During Unloading on Regulatory Components of Protein Synthesis in Atrophied Soleus Muscles. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2011. 111, 1815-1828.

Gualano, A., Bozza, T., Lopes De Campos, P., Roschel, H., Dos Santos Costas, A.,Marquezi, M., Benatti, F., Lancha, A. Branched-Chain Amino Acids Supplementation Enhances Exercise Capacity and Lipid Oxidation During Endurance Exercise After Muscle Glycogen Depletion. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness.  2011.51(5), 82-88.
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