If you are familiar with or immerged in the fitness industry, then you are aware of the hundreds of supplements that target pre, during, and post workout. With protein powders, creatine and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) being the most popular amongst the sport supplements. You can find several different brands of BCAAs that are unflavoured, flavoured, and fermented, which can lead to difficulty choosing the right one. So, what are BCAAs and why are they popular?
First, let’s talk about protein, which is digested, broken down then used in the body. Protein are long chains of amino acids linked together which are building blocks for a multitude of functions in the body. These functions include making antibodies that support our immune system, enzymes that help with breaking down our food, aid in the production of neurotransmitters, which are essential for brain function, and building muscle. Protein is broken down to amino acids, therefore is its easier for the body to absorb and utilize them. BCAAs are only three out of the eight essential amino acids that our body needs. These essential amino acids are necessary to obtain through diet since our body is unable to manufacture them. Isoleucine, leucine and valine are the amino acids that make up BCAAs and have a synergistic effect. This means these three amino acids work well together and increase the affects of one another. BCAAs play beneficial roles in the body since they aid in protein metabolism by increasing muscle synthesis, preserving muscle and decreasing the risk of muscle breakdown(1). However, branched-chain amino acids have many other roles that can support anyone who is physically active. In one study, a group of young men supplemented with BCAAs pre-workout to see if it could aid in muscle recovery (2). Results showed that those who supplemented pre-workout with BCAAs were less likely to deal with delayed onset muscle soreness and exercise-induced muscle damage. This can be extremely beneficial for athletes who run, compete in marathons or weight lift. Branched chain amino acids are also used to increase endurance, prevent fatigue during a training session, and prevent muscle catabolism that is caused by exercise(3).BCAA’s can be extremely important for muscle preservation and reducing muscle degradation, especially in the elderly population where muscle breakdown is an issue.
With summer around the corner, it means delicious BBQ’s, quenching drinks and tasty popsicles. Unfortunately, when it comes to commercial brands of popsicles (4)and frozen treats, they are filled with multiple sources of refined sugars, genetically modified ingredients, and wheat, which is usually a common allergen. For athletes, fitness lovers, and people who generally care for their health, choose to avoid eating sugar filled snacks. Other fruit-based popsicles tend to have less real fruit and more artificial flavours and colours, and a ton of sugar (do you see a trend?). To take the guess work out of what is inside of popsicles at the grocery store, I have curated a deliciously refreshing popsicle that has BCAAs and, wait for it… REAL FRUIT. Berries are rich in antioxidants that are crucial for anyone, especially those who exercise. During exercising, whether it be weightlifting, spinning, or running, free radicals are created in the body. Free radicals are created due to the stress that is being put on the body during exercise. If these free radicals are not managed by consuming antioxidant rich foods or supplementing with antioxidants, these free radicals and will eventually cause detrimental affects on one’s heath. Don’t worry, exercising is still amazing if you are doing something to balance the free radicals after. With these healthy, antioxidant rich, muscle supporting popsicles you can’t go wrong!
1. (PDF) Supplementing BCAAs for exercise increases muscle ... (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308761807_Supplementing_BCAAs_for_exercise_increases_muscle_recovery_in_athletes
2.( Ra, S., Miyazaki, T., Kojima, R., Komine, S., Ishikura, K., Kawanaka, K., . . . Ohmori, H. (2018, November). Effect of BCAA supplement timing on exercise-induced muscle soreness and damage: A pilot placebo-controlled double-blind study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28944645
3. (Blomstrand, E., & Newsholme, E. A. (1992, November). Effect of branched-chain amino acid supplementation on the exercise-induced change in aromatic amino acid concentration in human muscle. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1481685/
4. (Cyclone® Multi-Pack. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.popsicle.com/ca/en/products/cyclone-multi-pack