Watching Ben Pakulski train, you will notice that he is never without his shaker cup filled with branched-chain amino acid powder—it’s the first thing he pulls out of his training bag before hitting the iron. BCAA supplementation has been shown to increase protein synthesis and decrease muscle protein breakdown; however, it can also enhance muscle recuperation.

Researchers had men who were well trained in resistance exercise perform muscle-damaging exercise, which consisted of 100 consecutive drop jumps. Drop jumps involve jumping of a plyometic box, which can cause muscle damage.

The group that received BCAA drinks before exercise showed a reduction in CK efflux (a marker of muscle damage) and soreness compared with the placebo.

REFERENCE: Howatson G, et al., J Int Soc Sports Nutr., 9(1):20, May 2012.