Professional athletes are exposed to intensive physical strain almost every day.
They were among the 5 occupations that had more than 1,000 injuries per 10,000 workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
This is why energy intake is the foundation of their diet. Their nutritional needs depend on the intensity, frequency, and duration of their physical activity.
Because of this, they consume various food supplements, such as amino acids, to support optimal body functions. So, do athletes benefit from amino acid supplements? Here’s what you should know.
Sports nutrition and BCAAs
According to the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the Medical University of Plovdiv, 85% rated amino acids as the largest consumption rate, followed by protein, magnesium, and creatine.
All mixed martial arts fighters, bodybuilders, powerlifters, and judo athletes use amino acids. Some kickboxers also consume amino acids every day.
A branched-chain amino acid (BCAA), in particular, provides benefits before, during, and after the workout. The BCAA contains three essential amino acids, such as valine, isoleucine, and leucine that go straight into the bloodstream and to the muscles rather than being metabolized in the liver. Leucine, in particular, helps in muscle development and athletic recovery.
Boost muscle growth
When athletes exercise, their muscle fibers break down, causing swelling and inflammation in the muscle. As a result, they may feel relatively weak, immobile, and sore for the next few days. What follows after the muscle breakdown in muscle protein synthesis (MPS). It is a process wherein protein is produced to grow and build up the previously damaged muscle fibers. Amino acids help increase muscle growth by activating a pathway in the body that stimulates MPS.
BCCAs, especially leucine, are a popular choice in the athletic community. Another study has shown that who consumed a drink containing 5.6 grams of BCAAs after resistance training had a 22% greater increase of MPS compared to those who consumed a placebo drink.
Amino acids likewise help reduce exercise fatigue. While athletes experience exhaustion and fatigue from exercise at some point, how quickly they tire depends on various factors, such as their fitness and nutrition levels. It is found that the risk of fatigue can be mitigated through diet modification, including BCAA supplementation.
Best time to take amino acid supplements
Experts also recommend that the most effective time to take amino acid supplements is 30 to 60 minutes before working out.
This is because the AAs will enter the bloodstream just in time for it to be used for fuel, therefore, reducing muscle breakdown. The benefits will even continue after the workout if one is getting a proper dosage.
Nevertheless, a majority of people consume amino acid supplements intra-workout while some take it 30 minutes after exercise with the purpose of maximizing muscle recovery.
So, whether you are a professional athlete or an avid gym-goer, amino acid supplements may be something you can consider not just to improve sports performance and help with recovery but also help you train longer.