Fitness supplements have long been a weapon in many athletes’ arsenals, thanks to the ways they can boost performance and enhance gains without soiling the competition. There are a wide variety of these products available online in stores, but the many options can make it difficult to know what supplement might be right for you and your sport. For those involved in cycling training, for example, strength is undoubtedly important, but so is resistance to fatigue; while popular supplements like whey protein may help with the first of these goals, they tend to do little for the second.
One alternative to traditional protein-based supplements that cyclists should consider is BCAAs, a group of amino acids known for an ability to support both mind and body during periods of strenuous exercise – the perfect thing for those long training rides. So, what role do BCAAs plain in cycling training? Keep reading to find out.
Benefits of BCAAs in Cycling Training
Many fitness supplements make claims about their miraculous effects, but amino acid supplements are some of the rare few backed by sound scientific evidence. Here, we’ll cover what BCAAs are and how they can help cyclists with their training.
Of the 20 amino acids our bodies require to survive, nine – the “essential” amino acids – must be obtained from outside sources, such as food or supplements. The branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) represent three of those nine, which have been separated into a specific class based on their unique structure. These compounds are called leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
Leucine is the BCAA that has drawn the most attention from researchers, and for good reason. This amino acid plays a key role in cycling training: it signals to the body that it needs to create more skeletal muscle – the tissue that powers our arms and legs – and its metabolites (especially HMB) have been shown to reduce the breakdown of muscle tissue caused by exercise1. For this reason, most amino acid supplements are made with a greater proportion of leucine than the other BCAAs.
Of special interest to many cyclists is the role isoleucine plays in the body. This amino acid helps promote the flow of energy to the muscles2 by increasing the uptake of glucose by muscle tissue and facilitating the use of that glucose during exercise; in other words, isoleucine helps you stay energized for longer periods – the perfect thing for those hours-long training rides. And as an added bonus, isoleucine also helps with muscle synthesis and protection (though not as effectively as leucine or HMB) and can help heal damaged muscles as well.
Valine, the third BCAA, specializes in protecting muscle tissue from excessive damage caused by exercise. Normally, when you engage in strenuous physical activity over a significant period of time, your muscles develop tiny tears that need to be repaired during your post-workout recovery period; by limiting the severity of the damage, valine can help speed your recovery and preserve existing muscle mass, though that’s not all it does. This amino acid is also linked to the regulation of blood sugar, energy levels, and the functioning of the central nervous system.
BCAAs vs. Protein for Cycling Training
While all three BCAAs are included in a scoop of most protein supplements, amino acid-based products provide these compounds in a unique form that comes with a few major advantages:
BCAA Supplements Fight Fatigue
When we’re at rest, our bloodstream contains various amino acids, including the BCAAs and tryptophan, a compound used to create serotonin in the brain. Normally, these amino acids compete for access to the brain, with each keeping the other in check; however, when we exercise, our muscles soak up the BCAAs in our blood and put them to use, leaving tryptophan to move into the brain in greater amounts. This leads to an increase in serotonin – a neurotransmitter associated with mood and fatigue – when you work out.
By supplementing with BCAAs, you can restore the amino acid balance in your bloodstream and therefore limit the amount of serotonin that forms in the brain, warding off fatigue and helping you push yourself harder for longer.
Amino Acid Supplements Are Low in Calories
Many of the protein shakes that line store shelves are less healthy than they appear. A significant portion of these products contain far more calories and sugar than is generally necessary in a fitness supplement, unless your goal is to significantly increase body mass. Amino acid supplements, on the other hand, contain very few calories and almost no sugar, making them superior for those whose focus is building lean muscle.
BCAA Supplements Take Effect Quickly
When you consume whole proteins like those in whey supplements, your body has to work to break those molecules down via digestion before the amino acids they contain can be used; this process takes time. A BCAA supplement doesn’t lead to this delay because free-form amino acids aren’t linked by peptide bonds, meaning that they require very little digestion and can take effect up to three times faster than whey protein.
Lean, Effective BCAA Supplements for Cycling Training
If you’re serious about your cycling training, consider boosting your performance with a lean yet powerful BCAA supplement from aminoVITAL®. Each of our products is carefully formulated to provide support for a specific part of your training regimen, whether you need a pre-workout jolt of energy or a post-workout recovery supplement. To learn more about these cutting-edge products and how they can improve the results from your cycling training, visit aminoVITAL® online or call (888) 264-6673 today.