While many sports can be grueling, few require the level of focus and endurance needed for cycling. Because of the great distances involved in races and the constant exertion of pumping pedals, cyclists often experience significant wear and tear on their bodies during and immediately after races. To repair that damage and build greater strength and endurance, those involved in cycling often use supplements to give their bodies the resources they need to kick-start the healing process and boost long-term gains; these supplements can include the familiar protein-based varieties, though a more advanced option is available in the form of amino acid or BCAA supplements. Still, these products are fairly new to the market, so prospective users probably have a few questions. For example, do amino acid supplements help you with cycling? To find out, keep reading as the people at aminoVITAL® shed some light on the subject.
The Benefits of Amino Acid Supplements for Cycling
Although amino acid supplements containing BCAAs have become increasingly popular in recent years, it can still be useful to break down just what these supplements do and how they can help with cycling. Let’s start with the basics.
The term “BCAA” comes from a classification of amino acid – specifically, the branched-chain amino acids – that encompasses three compounds: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These compounds are a few of the “essential” amino acids, meaning that they can’t be produced internally and must come from outside the body, namely from foods or supplements.
Though all three of these amino acids are present in most protein supplements, products based on amino acids offer superior results, thanks to some basic differences in how the body processes whole proteins vs. free-form amino acids. You can learn more about these advantages below:
Amino Acids Take Effect Quickly
When you down a protein shake, your body needs time to digest those proteins before it can use the amino acids they contain. A supplement based on free-form amino acids, however, needs much less digestion because the compounds it provides are not joined by peptide bonds like they are in protein. This allows the body to absorb an amino acid supplement up to three times faster than whey protein, so you’ll feel the effects much sooner.
Amino Acids Make for Low-Calorie Supplements
A glance at the nutrition facts for most popular protein supplements will show that a single serving often comes with significant amounts of calories and sugar – two things that are seldom necessary when seeking to become more fit. BCAA supplements, on the other hand, are much leaner. For instance, the Action intra-workout mix from aminoVITAL®, which is designed to provide a boost of energy and support muscles in the middle of a long ride or workout, contains only 15 calories and not an ounce of sugar. This makes amino acid supplements an ideal choice for building lean muscle.
BCAA Supplements Fight Fatigue
While you’re out on a long bike ride, your muscles begin to soak up the BCAAs in your bloodstream for energy and to mitigate the breakdown of muscle tissue. This is generally a good thing, but it means that there are fewer BCAAs in the blood to compete with tryptophan, an amino acid used to make serotonin, for entry into the brain.
Normally, tryptophan and the BCAAs vie to cross the blood-brain barrier, so once those BCAAs move to the muscles, greater amounts of tryptophan can enter the brain, which also means more serotonin – a neurotransmitter linked to fatigue. By supplementing with BCAAs, you can restore the amino acid balance in your blood, preventing a possible increase of serotonin in the brain and warding off fatigue during exercise.
How BCAAs Help You with Cycling
In addition to the substantial benefits described above, BCAA supplements offer a few other positive effects that can help you with cycling, thanks to the ways each individual amino acid supports proper muscle function. Below, you’ll find descriptions of the three BCAAs and information on how they can improve athletic performance.
Perhaps the most powerful of the BCAAs, leucine has been widely studied1, thanks to its role in building bigger muscles. This amino acid is responsible for triggering the synthesis of new muscle tissue, making it an integral part of any training regimen designed to make you stronger or faster.
Whereas leucine builds strength, isoleucine works to improve endurance by facilitating the flow of glucose (the body’s preferred form of energy) to the muscles. This helps you stay energized during those lengthy races and training runs, plus it can streamline the recovery process, reducing soreness and getting you ready for your next ride that much sooner.
The third BCAA, valine, plays a number of roles in the body, but the one we’ll focus on here is its ability to protect muscles. During a bike ride, the muscles you use often develop tiny tears caused by exertion, but valine helps to shield those muscles from excessive damage caused by exercise, preserving muscle mass and making your recovery faster and easier.
Try a Lean, Effective Amino Acid Supplement for Cycling
Finding safe, effective ways to improve performance when cycling doesn’t have to be hard. With a BCAA supplement from aminoVITAL®, you can provide your body with only those ingredients essential to support muscle function without undermining your health and fitness goals with unnecessary calories or sugars. Try an amino acid supplement today and see the difference on your next ride. To learn more about all our products, visit the aminoVITAL® website or call (888) 264-6673 today.