What Are BCAAS Good For: Runners
I'm not a runner by any stretch of the imagination but I force myself to run a few times per week because it's difficult and there is always a mental mood enhancing benefit when you complete a difficult task. BCAAs, branched chain amino acids, can help both the recreational and the serious, competitive runner.
Branched Chain Amino Acids are three unique amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) that your body can not produce on its own. You must get them from your diet which is partially why a high protein diet is so important. BCAAS are unique in that they act directly on skeletal muscle tissue when used as a supplement leading to some faster adaptions that we'll discuss in the article.
BCAAS can trigger muscle protein synthesis, the building of new muscle tissue, at skeletal muscle levels independent of other amino acids or carbohydrates.
What Are BCAAS Good For: Running
BCAAS Reduce Muscle Breakdown
Running, like other predominately aerobic activities, can be very catabolic to muscle tissue especially at the frequency and duration that most serious runners train at. One of the main benefits of BCAAS in general is that they reduce muscle breakdown.
BCAAS largely reduce muscle breakdown since they can inhibit exercise induced cortisol production. We often hear about cortisol in terms of autoimmune diseases or adrenal fatigue but cortisol spikes during physical activity as well. Studies have shown that BCAAs decrease exercise induced muscle breakdown.
Most runners have a hard enough time fitting in their runs and weight lifting, let's save some of that muscle where we can.
BCAAS Boost Endurance
The very thing that the sport of running is based on, endurance, is enhanced with BCAA use! We just discussed how BCAAS inhibit cortisol and that's one mechanism how BCAAS boost endurance but there's more.
BCAAS are preferentially used as skeletal muscle energy. When you run or lift your body is breaking down muscle tissue to release glucose and amino acids for energy. When that limit is progressively reached as the workout continues, you hit a wall and perform less and less until your workout is over. BCAAS can actually delay that fatigue by acting as the primary fuel source for muscle during activity.
Specifically intra workout BCAA supplementation. You'd slowly sip them while you train providing your body a constant source. Additionally, Physique Formula BCAAS include the amino acid citrulline malate which by itself decreases time to exhaustion of a muscle for a second benefit.
BCAAS Increase Mental Performance
There are two types of fatigue that cause your workout to end, muscular fatigue as discussed above and mental fatigue. Your central nervous system is going to dictate your muscular effort and when your muscles are tapped out due to using up the available glucose and amino acids, the only driver of your performance is your central nervous system.
BCAAS actually block the amino acid tryptophan from crossing the blood brain barrier. Tryptophan is the amino acid found in turkey, which is why you fall asleep after Thanksgiving lunch so fast. BCAAS can help you train for a little bit longer by blocking Tryptophan.
Running Specific Benefits of BCAAS
Now let’s highlight some endurance specific studies on BCAAs and runners.
In one study endurance cyclists taking BCAA supplements increased both their sprint performance and markers of immune system help while decreasing markers of muscle damage. We know immune system health is what keeps us training consistently and delaying fatigue during endurance is going to have big time dividends for consistency. (1)
BCAA reduce the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) which means that for a given task, the athlete perceived it to be not as difficult as previous bouts. The Physique Formula BCAAS contain taurine which has also been shown to reduce RPE as well.
Regardless of the endurance activity, swimming, running or cycling, the group using BCAAS had 33% more muscle protein synthesis and less overall muscle protein break down than individuals who did not consume BCAAS, that’s impressive. (3)
What Are BCAAS Good For: Runners
BCAAS clearly have some benefits for runners and should be part of an athletes daily program. With consistent supplementation they'll provide the benefits listed above. The best part is that you don't really need to think about using them, just add 2 scoops of Physique Formula BCAAs into your water during the day. With the additional glutamine, taurine, citrulline malate and betaine to provide further endurance and muscle recovery benefits, Physique Formula BCAAS offer an all natural performance boost.