The branched-chain amino acids – leucine, isoleucine, and valine – are not produced in the body and must be obtained through the diet. “Branched-chain” refers to the chemical structure of these amino acids. The BCAAs are primarily oxidized (i.e., catabolized/broken down) in skeletal muscle. Exercise activates the catabolism of BCAAs in skeletal muscle, therefore, exercise may increase the BCAA requirement. The benefits that BCAA supplementation offers is three-fold:
- suppresses muscle damage in the post-exercise period
- reduces delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in the post-exercise period
- maximizes muscle protein synthesis following exercise (due to the leucine ingestion)
>> It has been reported that 5 grams of BCAAs taken about 15-30 minutes before exercise can reduce DOMS and muscle fatigue for several days after exercise. This same amount, if ingested in the post-workout period, will also elevate muscle protein synthesis as well.