BCAAs Improve Hormone Profiles Following Weight Training
There is definitely evidence for the effectiveness of branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) as an ergogenic aid. BCAAs are often used to improve recovery from athletic training, and are also used by bodybuilders during dieting phases to help retain muscle mass. One particular study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research examined the effects of BCAA supplementation on healthy males during periods of intense resistance training. The study effectively demonstrated that supplementation with BCAAs can lead to improved recovery and a hormonal profile conducive to muscle building during periods of intense resistance training.
In the study, one group was assigned a high BCAA supplement, and the other group was assigned a placebo supplement. Both groups began consuming the supplement 3 weeks before beginning a new training program in which training volume was increased to the point of overreaching (when a person is training often and intensely enough that they cannot properly recover between training sessions). Both groups continued consuming the supplement throughout the new training program as well.
Blood was drawn and tested for testosterone, cortisol, and creatine kinase before supplementation began, after supplementation, after 2 days of the new training program, and after 4 days of the new program. The group that consumed the high BCAA supplement had higher levels of testosterone and lower levels of cortisol and crestine kinase following resistance training than the group that consumed the placebo supplement.
The researchers concluded that high BCAA intake, at least in the short term, may produce a hormonal profile conducive to muscle building and may decrease muscle damage following training. As a result, performance and muscle growth (or a lack of muscle breakdown) may be increased. This is just one more study supporting the use of BCAA as a sports supplement.
Sharp CP, & Pearson DR. (2010). Amino acid supplements and recovery from high-intensity resistance training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research / National Strength & Conditioning Association. 24(4), 1125-30.
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