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BCAA supplementation for athletes
« poslato: Oktobar 19, 2009, 02:15:11 pre podne »
BCAA supplementation for athletes

Among the most beneficial and effective supplements in any sports nutrition program are branched chain amino acids. These are the essential aminos leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Although these supplements have been around for a long time and the scientific understanding in the exercise performance benefits of BCAA supplementation is rich many people don't know exactly how they exert their effects or how and when to use them properly.

My Belief
Before I get into any details describing these supplements I'd like to state my belief that whole foods are the foundation of sports nutrition and if you're not eating properly your supplements will not make up for bad eating habits! One of the hardest things to do is learning how to eat correctly but you should take some time and educate yourself and get in the habit of obtaining the bulk of your nutritional needs from plain wholesome food.

 Food supplements are supplements and not nutritional replacements and should be used in addition to regular food not instead of it. Your most important nutritional purchases happen at the grocery store, not the health food store so don't be one of these guys who spends several hundred dollars per month on supplements yet lives on frosted flakes, potato chips, candy, and coke!

Once you've learned the basics of all around nutrition, meal content, and timing you can progress further by directing some of your efforts towards targeted supplementation.

Once you decide to supplement it's not enough to pop a grab-bag of supplements and hope they'll do some good. For best results, supplement your diet with purpose! Decide what it is you want to accomplish as far as physical goals or performance and direct your eating and supplement program towards that objective.

Used correctly, targeted BCAA supplementation can have a "drug-like effect" on your body and can definitely blast you out of whatever rut you might be in and as this series progresses I will help show you how, but first I'd like to give a general overview of BCAA metabolism.

Amino Acids
You probably know that amino acids are the building blocks of protein. When you eat a protein food, it gets digested in the stomach and intestine into individual amino acids and short chains of amino acids that are small enough to be absorbed into the bloodstream. These amino acids have far reaching effects in the body from building and repairing tissues, to producing chemicals that enable our brains to function optimally.

Twenty two in all amino acids are divided into 2 groups:

Essential               Non-essential

Histidine                   Alanine
Isoleucine                Arginine
Leucine                    Aspartic Acid
Lysine                      Cysteine
Methionine                Cystine
Phenylalanine           Glutamic Acid
Tryptophan               Glutamine
Valine                        Glycine
?                                Hydroxyproline
?                                Proline
?                               Serine
?                               Tyrosine

 Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body. You must get them from complete protein foods or combinations of incomplete vegetable foods. There are 9 essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, and valine. your body can make non-essential amino acids by itself from vitamins and other amino acids.

The term "non-essential" can be misleading since all amino acids are essential for proper metabolism and certain non-essential amino acids, such as glutamine, become very essential during illness or trauma. The 13 non-essential amino acids are alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, cysteine, cystine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, hydroxyproline, proline, serine, & tyrosine.

The essential branched chain amino acids (BCAA's) are of special importance for athletes because they are metabolized in the muscle, rather than in the liver. Here's how this works: After digestion once protein is broken down into individual amino acids these aminos can either be used to build new proteins or be burned as fuel to produce energy.

The Liver
 Eventually these aminos will go through the liver before being transported through the rest of the body. The liver has the ability to break down most amino acids for energy when it needs to, such as starvation or during intense exercise. The BCAA's are special because they aren't significantly broken down in the liver and this results in release of the BCAA's from the liver into circulation. Skeletal muscles, however, are able to break down the BCAA's for energy and will do so during increased energy needs such as starvation, trauma, or exercise.

During resting periods when other fuel sources, such as carbohydrates and fats, are available they spare the BCAA's from oxidation, leaving them available for use in protein synthesis which is what you want them to do - serve you by building muscle. The important thing is that although BCAA's account for only about 20% of the total amino acids in a protein meal they account for 50-90% of the total amino acids released into general circulation to be taken up by the muscles. BCAA's are the most abundant amino acids incorporated into muscle protein and make up 1/3 of this muscle.

They are also heavily catabolized (broken down and used for energy) during exercise. These 2 reasons plus the fact that the body can't make it's own BCAA's increases the need for BCAA's for athletes. Are you starting to get the idea that BCAA's are important for anyone interested in muscle and strength? Next week I'll discuss more on how BCAAs function in the body and why they are especially important for those who engage in any form of strenuous exercise.

Normal Conditions
During normal conditions, 80-100% of the body's energy requirements are supplied by fats and carbohydrates. This means that even under normal sedentary conditions amino acids can provide up to 20% of your energy needs. During exercise, depending on your training, you will ideally burn mostly fat and stored carbohydrate (glycogen) as fuel but eventually your body will also turn to protein, particularly the BCAAs, as glycogen becomes depleted.

The muscle proteins are a rich source of BCAAs and the problem is that muscles can use the BCAAs directly as fuel, so in a pinch the BCAAs will cannibalize themselves and oxidize their own proteins as a fuel source. This happens during exercise as glycogen levels become depleted. Studies have shown that in weight training using sets of 10 repetitions for various exercises, individual muscle glycogen levels can become depleted by more than 10% with each set performed. So if one set can deplete glycogen levels by 10% you can probably imagine how much depletion of glycogen a typical higher set might lead to!

Studies Of BCAA Oxidation
In studies using moderate intensity exercise (an easy bicycle ride of 55% of VO2 max), the BCAA oxidation during the exercise period was 240% above baseline and the total BCAA oxidation during an easy 2 hour ride was 90% of the total requirement for various BCAAs listed in the RDA (recommended daily allowance) handbook. In another study it was found that during a 10 mile run more than 100% of the RDA for protein, and thus BCAA, was oxidized as fuel during the run! For an athlete this is not a good thing as it is virtually impossible to build or maintain muscle in this state.

One way you can ensure an adequate BCAA pool is by consuming enough protein at regular intervals on a daily basis. Remember that protein contains all the aminos, including the BCAAs, so it is imperative you take in enough protein. Intensely training athletes have long known they require more protein than sedentary people. Many people are under the misconception that they need all this extra protein strictly for fueling muscle growth.

Estimated daily requirements of BCAA for athletes in intensive training:

Bodyweight (lbs)   Leucine (grams)   Valine (grams)   Isoleucine (grams)
88                              2.1                        2                   0.8
110                             3                         2.5                   1
132                             3.6                       3                   1.2
154                             4.2                       3.5                1.4
176                             4.8                       4                   1.6
198                             5.4                       4.5                1.8
220                             6                          5                   2
242                             6.6                       5.5                 2.2
264                             7.2                       6                   2.4
Although it does require a bit of extra protein to fuel muscle growth, the truth is that athletes need additional protein because their intense exercise sessions burn more protein and amino acids for fuel during exercise. Because of this, endurance athletes actually have higher protein and amino acid requirements on a pound-for-pound basis than bodybuilders! If you neglect to consume enough protein to make up for that protein used as fuel during your training, your body will strip aminos, particularly branched chain aminos, from your muscles to be used as fuel. This is obviously not something you want to happen. (Not unless you want to look like a typical marathon runner!)

Some recent studies have shown that even sedentary men require significantly more BCAA than what the RDA recommends. Even at leucine intakes 40% higher than the RDA figure, these men were found to be in negative leucine balance. In this state, optimal muscle maintenance is not possible and the status of all the other amino acids is also compromised.

All Athletes
All athletes want to avoid the reduced muscle size and strength consequent of reduced muscle protein synthesis and breakdown. Keep in mind an adequate level of free BCAA won't turn you into superman (although higher targeted dosages may come close), but will enable you to avoid some of the negative effects of BCAA depletion including inadequate recovery and training stagnation.

First you should make sure you get an adequate level by consuming enough protein to ensure at least a homeostatic level. Then you can add to this through targeted supplementation.

If you already have an adequate level provided by your diet, you'll really be able to see the benefits. In addition to consuming enough protein, make sure you consume enough quality calories on a daily basis and get plenty of rest and recovery. By consuming adequate calories and carbohydrates you'll help spare the BCAAs.

The greater your glycogen storage the more likely your BCAA pool will be used for muscle growth and the less likely it will be oxidized as energy. Rest and recovery will further help direct your BCAA pool towards muscle growth. Following these steps will go a long way in enhancing your gains-and we haven't even covered the REAL supplemental benefits yet!

Boosting Immune Function - Remember if you're sick it's hard to train, much less grow. It's even harder to come back after an illness without losing a ton of strength and size. When you train at high intensity or high volume you risk immune suppression and infections. By supplementing with BCAAs you'll help reverse glutamine loss, which is essential for immune function. In addition to this, the BCAAs help prevent a catabolic state in the body, which in turn can help improve recovery and lessen the damaging effects your exercise sessions may have on the body.

Stimulate Protein Synthesis - BCAAs by themselves have been shown to independently stimulate muscle protein synthesis. In other words, they have shown the ability to induce muscle gains, even in the absence of weight training! Studies have shown that BCAA supplementation increases the hormones: testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin.

All of these are highly anabolic hormones. Research also shows that under conditions of extreme stress, such as hiking for 21 days at high altitude, BCAA supplementation (10 grams per day) was shown to increase muscle mass while subjects ingesting a placebo had no such change. The important thing here is these people gained muscle under extreme conditions without any anabolic stimulus such as weight training.

Stimulate Fat Loss - Supplementation of BCAAs has been shown to trigger significant and preferential losses of visceral body fat. Located in the deeper layers of the body under the subcutaneous fat, this visceral fat tends to be resistant to dieting and is hard to lose. In one study, 25 competitive wrestlers were divided into 1 of 3 diet groups: a diet high in BCAAs, a diet low in BCAAs, and a control diet. The wrestlers stayed on the diets for 19 days. The results showed that the high BCAA group lost the most body fat, 17.3% on average. Much of the fat lost was in the abdominal region. This may give credence to BCAAs effectiveness at "spot reducing" the abs. In another study 2 groups of climbers were divided into a BCAA supplemented group and a control group. Both groups lost weight but the BCAA group actually gained muscle mass while losing fat and the other group lost muscle mass.

One theory as to how BCAAs exert their substantial fat burning and muscle building effects is this: When present in high amounts during exercise, the body senses high levels of BCAA in the bloodstream which is typically a sign of excessive muscle breakdown. So the body stops muscle breakdown and uses more fat for fuel. At the same time the extra BCAAs in the blood stimulate insulin so the BCAAs are driven directly to the muscle. So the result is people lose body fat and gain muscle at the same time. If my hunch is correct, in order to benefit the most from the fat loss aspect of BCAAs you should make sure you limit carbohydrate consumption during the 2 hour window before your workout.

 Increased Recovery - Perhaps the greatest benefit to hard training athletes is the increase in metabolic recovery that follows supplementation. Most athletes feel a substantial decrease in the amount of post exercise muscle soreness soon after beginning BCAA supplementation. Even without any of the other benefits of BCAA usage this means faster recovery from exercise induced protein damage (remember your muscles grow when you damage them), which in turn means faster size and strength gains. With increased recovery the harder and more frequently you can hit the iron and thus the sooner you can meet your goals.

Anti Catabolic Effects - BCAAs probably exert most of their anabolic effects through anti-catabolic activity. In short, they suppress the use of muscle proteins for fuel, thereby sparing the breakdown of muscular protein. In part this is because they can sacrifice themselves as fuel. With less muscular protein being broken down by the body during training, the net result is increased protein synthesis and more muscle for you! In a study done on obese people put on a starvation type diet, BCAA supplementation was found to induce anabolism and nitrogen sparing so the subjects burned body fat instead of lean muscle mass, thus sparing muscle protein.

Endurance - The BCAAs can serve as a donor of nitrogen in the formation of l-alanine, which provides the body with glucose after glycogen stores have been depleted. When you think of sparing glycogen you probably think of high carbohydrate diets but BCAAs have proven their worth here as well. In a 4 week study Japanese researchers administered BCAAs or a placebo to rats and then exercised the animals to exhaustion. The BCAA group exhibited spared glycogen storage in the liver and skeletal muscle during exercise. This means that they may enable you to train at higher intensities for longer periods of time. Supplementing with BCAAs may enable you to maintain your training intensity and endurance as energy normally provided by your diet decreases. Anyone who has ever been on a very low carb or low calorie diet for extended periods can definitely appreciate this!

 I think it's probably fairly obvious by now how everyone can in some way benefit from BCAA supplementation. By now you're probably saying to yourself, "OK, but how much do I need to take and when do I need to take it!?" In the next installment I'll answer this question and tell you how to use Protein Creations BCAA product, ICE, and what the research and real-world results show as far as dosages and timing for best results. I'll also touch on the highly potent synergistic combination between BCAAs and glutamine and how this combination used in the proper dosages can enhance the effectiveness of the above benefits even more!

BCAA + Glutamine
Last week I left you with the research that showed how using BCAA's can help improve your physical goals in several areas. Although you now know what BCAA's can do as a stand alone supplement, I think it's imperative to also touch on the synergistic combination between BCAA's and Glutamine. While the BCAA's are the most abundant amino acids incorporated into muscle proteins, glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the bloodstream and free inside muscle cells. Glutamine, by itself, is essential for functioning the immune system and cells involved in regeneration and repair and is attributed with many other positive benefits from the healing of the lining of the stomach to it's use as a supplement used to temper alcohol or tobacco cravings.

 Much like the BCAA levels, it has been shown that there is a correlation between the concentration of glutamine in the body and the rate of protein synthesis. In other words, glutamine levels are a good marker of anabolic status. When blood levels are high your chances of positive adaptations (muscle and strength) from your training are greater and low levels are a definite marker of overtraining and/or under-nutrition. The synergism between the two (BCAA & Glutamine) exists because, not only do they both induce many of the same anabolic and anti-catabolic effects, but under stressful conditions BCAA's can directly contribute to glutamine stores by serving as donors to the formation of glutamine.

The combination of glutamine and BCAA's has been shown to dramatically improve nitrogen balance and slow down muscle wasting in bone marrow patients, burn patients, and those undergoing major surgery. Amongst athletes a relatively low dose combination of BCAA (3 grams) and glutamine (5 grams) supplemented during training was found to promote a 2-pound greater gain in muscle mass and greater gains in strength versus ingesting whey protein alone. Anecdotal reports indicate some athletes making gains of up to 5 times this number by using optimal (higher) dosages with solid nutrition and training! Although BCAA's and glutamine definitely have plenty of merit as stand alone supplements, the potential benefits when used in combination seem to magnify the results.

To maximize the various anabolic effects of BCAA's and glutamine it is essential that adequate dosages are used. Although dosages as low as 3 grams/day have shown benefit, studies involving BCAA usage show dramatic benefits when using approximately 9 grams per 100 pounds lean bodyweight per day. Further results may be obtained during strenuous training or dieting periods, or for a real anabolic kick, by using BCAA dosages as high as .44 g BCAA per kg of lean bodyweight. To use this formula simply deduct your body fat in pounds from your total weight then divide this number by 2.2 to get kg. Next multiply by .44 g to get the dosage. So a 220 lb individual with 10% body fat would use this formula:

220 lbs (total weight) - 20 lbs (body fat in lbs)= 200 lbs / 2.2= 90.91 kg (weight in kg) X .44g = 40 grams BCAA per day.

For glutamine a minimal dosage for those on a limited budget would be .05 grams per pound of lbw/day. Further results may be seen by using dosages as high as .10 grams to .20 grams per lb of lbw/day. So the same 220 lb 10% body fat individual would consume between 10-40 grams of glutamine per day with the higher numbers most likely used during periods of intense training coupled with severe calorie and carbohydrate restriction.

Protein Creations' BCAA product ICE is incorporated with a synergistic stack that utilizes the BCAA's but also proline for tissue damage, histidine as a vasodilator, and vitamin B6 for additional absorption. It's likely that these additions make ICE a more efficient BCAA product. In other words, it may take less of a dosage to see a dramatic response. Personally, if I were new to using these products, I'd start off with a middle of the road dosage of 9g BCAA per 100 pounds lean bodyweight and .10 grams glutamine per pound of bodyweight. Start off with this and follow the timing guidelines provided next and see what happens!

Perhaps the greatest variation amongst experts in BCAA or Glutamine supplementation is the issue of timing. Depending on who you ask you'll likely get a different opinion. I think everyone agrees that the greatest physical stress occurring to an athlete during his/her daily life is their training sessions and/or sporting events. Since the effect of BCAA and/or glutamine supplementation has been documented to have their greatest benefits during these high stress periods, I think it makes sense that some supplementation should occur prior to one's training session to ensure high levels in the body during this stressful time.

Think of it this way-remember that dietary protein is broken down into amino acids which include BCAA's and glutamine. Also remember that carbohydrates from your meals will help spare the BCAA's and Glutamine in the body. If you're eating well and feeding your body as you should with frequent protein feedings and lead a normal lifestyle than most of the day you should have plenty of BCAA's and glutamine floating around doing what they do best. It is during training when a sudden catabolic stress is placed on your body and you begin to use up your glycogen stores that your BCAA and glutamine stores begin to become compromised.

Glutamic Acid Formula
This is the time when targeted higher levels will deliver their greatest anabolic and anti-catabolic effects. Therefore, for anabolism my recommendations are to first ensure a high level during training by splitting the dosage in half and consuming half 30 minutes prior to or during the beginning of your training session and the other half immediately after.

I think for the money you'll obtain the greatest benefit this way. Try this for two weeks and see if you don't notice a substantial difference in recovery, DOMS, fat loss, muscle growth, and energy level during training. Also be sure to fill me in on your results!

Having made my timing recommendation I definitely do believe there is benefit to using these supplements at other times as well if you want to take your dosages higher. During periods of dieting, when overall calorie & carbohydrate intake is lower, supplemental levels of 2-5 grams BCAA and glutamine between meals will help maintain positive nitrogen balance and maintenance of muscle mass. Glutamine also helps between meals as it suppresses sweet and carbohydrate cravings. Yet another point that deserves mention is the effect on growth hormone.

Both BCAA and Glutamine have been shown to independently increase G.H. levels with dosages as low as 3 grams. By using 3-5 grams of each in between meals and an additional 5-10 grams glutamine before bed, athletes-especially those over the age of 30-may benefit by increased levels of GH. This in turn may lead to less body fat, greater energy and increased recovery from training.

By: Intensity Magazine

Van mreže NemanjaBG

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Odg: BCAA supplementation for athletes
« Odgovor #1 poslato: Oktobar 19, 2009, 02:27:02 pre podne »
  Well done our friend....weeeeel done !!!  ;)
« Poslednja izmena: Oktobar 19, 2009, 02:30:55 pre podne NemanjaBG »

Van mreže sasacg

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Odg: BCAA supplementation for athletes
« Odgovor #2 poslato: Oktobar 19, 2009, 01:45:36 posle podne »
Jos jednom bravissimo :wink:
"You'll be able to spit nails. You're gonna eat lightening and you're gonna crap thunder, you're gonna become a very dangerous person"