Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

Bicycling (South Africa) - - Stories -

These are pow­er­house mus­cle-mak­ers vi­tal to cy­clists. Amino acids are the build­ing blocks of pro­tein, which in turn is the foun­da­tion of mus­cle. But un­like other amino acids, BCAAs do not have to be bro­ken down by the liver be­fore get­ting to your mus­cles, says Matt Fitzgerald, cer­ti­fied sports nu­tri­tion­ist and au­thor of The En­durance Diet. So they di­rectly stim­u­late mus­cle build­ing and re­pair af­ter ex­er­cise. Ex­perts rec­om­mend ath­letes get about 2 000mg (2 grams) of BCAAs ev­ery day. An­i­mal pro­tein, in­clud­ing eggs and dairy prod­ucts, con­tains all the BCAAs you need. Good plant sources are beans, nuts, lentils, and soya foods.

If you don’t get a lot of pro­tein in your diet and/or you put in tons of mileage and are train­ing hard, you can sup­ple­ment BCAAs in pill form, such as GU Roc­tane BCAA cap­sules, which con­tain 1 500mg of amino acids per serv­ing. Amino acids are also avail­able in liq­uid form, which you can in­cor­po­rate into your hy­dra­tion. “Tak­ing them dur­ing work­outs has been shown to re­duce mus­cle dam­age,” says Fitzgerald.

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