Are BCAA’s good for runners?

[00:00:00] One of the things you’re likely to think about sooner or later if you’ve been running is should I take supplements? It’s a question that a lot of athletes ask themselves, and one in particular that comes up is BCAAs or branched chain amino acids. So today we want to talk about should you take BCAAs while you’re running?

[00:00:30] Welcome to a show I call Runner’s High. I’m Jesse Funk. If you haven’t been here on the channel before and you like running, you should subscribe. Stick around for more episodes every Tuesday and Thursday.

[00:00:40] We’re going to talk about BCAAs today. Branched chain amino acids. First, let’s cover what are branched chain amino acids? Why are they even important? You may already know that or you may be here on the channel before and to this video and like, what the heck is he talking about? So let’s cover the nitty-gritty or the quick and dirty version of what this is.

[00:01:01] So amino acids are the building blocks that we use to do many things in our bodies, including what’s important to us muscle synthesis or muscle protein synthesis to be more accurate, which is basically repairing our muscles. So when we work out, when we run, we’re going to tear our muscles up, make micro tears, and then our body needs to repair those things. So we need building blocks to repair them.

[00:01:24] Of the various amounts of amino acids that there are, our body can synthesize a number of them, and then there’s a number that they cannot synthesize, and those are referred to as essential amino acids.

[00:01:36] So there’s more of them than are involved in branched chain amino acids. But all three of the branched chain amino acids, leucine, isoleucine and valine are all essential amino acids again, meaning our body can’t synthesize them from other things. We need to take them in directly and they’re involved in repairing our muscles.

[00:01:58] There are a lot of things that people talk about these being good for. Some say the reduced muscle fatigue or they’ll increase performance there. We’re going to cover those things in some of the things that I believe that they actually do. But we want to talk about should you take them during running, in specifically talking about do they increase performance?

[00:02:21] So my approach to what you should be taking in during running is both relatively simple, but also trying to be granular in that we want to be accurate, right? We want to make a plan that’s relatively simple, but we also want to do something that makes sense. So you don’t want to have to like have seven different concoctions on you and then try to mix them and match them all at the same time so that you can get all the results that you want, right?

[00:02:52] Because we know the longer you go, the more likely you’re going to need supplementation of something, be it hydration, be it energy, whatever it is. So when we talk about BCAAs, the question is, do they actually help us improve our performance, do they make us go above and beyond what we could do prior? And I think the answer as far as I can find in the research is no, they don’t make us go above and beyond.

[00:03:20] Largely, and this is again a personal approach, many supplements, I believe, don’t necessarily boost us so much as stop us from being hindered, which isn’t as fun in the marketing sense. You really want to hit home. We’re going to boost your performance, but we have a potential, let’s say it’s up here. And then if we’re not fulfilling needs, say, hydrating or energy or whatever it is, then our potential gets lowered.

[00:03:48] So in a sense, I guess by taking in some certain things, you can boost your performance. But BCAAs don’t necessarily directly increase your performance. One neat thing that they actually to-do is act as a sodium cotransport, and this isn’t talked about enough. 

[00:04:08] As of the time of this video coming out. We recently launched a new drink series called The SYNC Hydration System. It is, to my knowledge, the most accurate way to hydrate on the planet as of current. It’s a system of drinks designed to deal with your particular genetic needs in your electrolyte loss. What does this have to do with BCAAs? Well, as I mentioned just a minute ago, BCAAs act as a sodium cotransport.

[00:04:37] You may have seen this advertised on from other brands like Liquid Ivy is a good example. They talk about cellular transport technology, how their product uses cellular transport technology. What they’re saying is a really good marketing term. So absolute congratulations to their team for coming up with that. It’s done really well. They use sugar as a sodium cotransport.

[00:05:02] What that means is that when your body is taking in sodium, so electrolytes, which is one of two parts of the hydration process, you can use other things to act as a buddy to help sodium get into your cells. So sodium is only allowed into a certain level. Your body kind of wants a certain amount, but you can push that envelope a little bit by having these cotransports, which are other things that your cells want in them like sugar or amino acids, and they will actually bring along a sodium molecule with them inside the cell, even though the cell might not necessarily allow that sodium and otherwise.

[00:05:43] So the cool thing about branched chain amino acids is that they function the same way that sugar does and they act as a cotransport. They help bring sodium in. Sodium is involved in two major things here with hydration, which is very important. As for us as endurance athletes, one, it’s an electrolyte. Electrolytes are used to help the signal from our brain get to our muscles and back. So muscle function very important.

[00:06:15] And then also the water homeostasis of our body is maintained in part by the concentration of electrolytes inside and outside of the cell. So intracellular fluid and extracellular fluid, that’s why we’ve included the BCAAs in our drink mix or our series of drinks because they act as a cotransport and we don’t use sugar. This is a side note, but you don’t need sugar for exercise less than 90 minutes because your body stores about 2 hours worth of sugar at any given time.

[00:06:52] So we know that BCAAs can be used as a cotransport, but they have another very important function. And that other very important function, which is I think criminally underrated as a useful source of performance enhancement, so to speak. Again, see my earlier remarks on what I think about that, but is that BCAAs can be used as an emergency fuel source.

[00:07:19] So remember how I just mentioned that your body has about 2 hours of sugar on hand for use? So we know that if you’re going for, say, periods longer than 90 minutes, typically you’re going to want to start taking in sugar of some sort. We can talk about the mixtures of sugars and how best to do that in another video, but sugar has to be broken down, processed by your liver, and then delivered through your bloodstream to your muscles for use. However, BCAAs don’t have to go through such a cumbersome process.

[00:07:52] They have the ability to bypass that mechanism of being digested in your liver and can be delivered more straight to the muscles for use as fuel. I don’t see this as a main fueling source because you’ve got that glycogen store right? And when we’re working out, you’re going to be burning a mixture of glycogen and fat. And then if you’re going fast enough using the process that produces lactic acid and then producing energy that way, so there’s not a straight it’s only one thing, but you’re adding to the fuel mixture, so to speak, of things that your body can use as fuel.

[00:08:34] And if you begin to run low on sugar, you didn’t fuel properly yesterday, or you’re going for a longer term and you don’t want to necessarily wait for that bump of sugar that your body needs to process. It takes longer to process the BCAAs can be a useful thing to include in what you’re taking in during exercise.

[00:08:55] So all of that being said, will BCAAs boost your performance and reduce fatigue again, because I don’t really believe supplements that boost your performance so much as allow you to get towards your potential. It’s a kind of on that that front reduce fatigue. Not really. But again, they do act as that sodium cotransport. So they help electrolytes get into our body and they can be used at a much faster fuel source than you would have if you were just trying to take in sugars by themselves.

[00:09:30] So if you’re interested in checking out our drink system, we’ll have a link down below or you can check it out in the shop. Solpri.com/shop. I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.

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