Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
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.