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Do BCAA's help with muscle recovery?

The short answer is No!

One walks into a sports nutrition store and trustingly ask the sales assistant for a product to help with muscle recovery. You are met with a plethora of BCAA brands, all purporting to offer the best chances of improved muscle recovery. The main problem is the science doesn't agree with all the marketing claims.

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are three amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) with similar structures that beneficially influence the muscles. They can be found in any food containing protein, such as eggs or meat. Supplementation is not necessary.

For people with low dietary protein intake, BCAA supplementation can promote muscle protein synthesis and increase muscle growth over time. (the emphasis here is on "low intake of dietary protein")
Supplementation can also be used to prevent fatigue in novice athletes. (the emphasis here is on novice athletes")

With regards to the anti-fatigue effects, it is highly plausible that this will only apply to untrained or lightly trained persons doing prolonged exercise. There does appear to be a difference between trained and untrained persons, and perhaps this is due to less tolerance to exercise-induced sedation (fatigue tends to set in earlier in newbies, so an anti-fatigue effect is going to affect them more).

The best sources of BCAAs are meat, chicken, fish, dairy products and eggs. As a guideline, you can figure on consuming about 1.7 grams of leucine and 1 gram each of isoleucine and valine from a 3-ounce (90g) serving of meat, poultry or fish or from 1/2 cup of cottage cheese. A cup of milk contains about half that amount.
Then there is still soybeans, baked beans, lima beans, lentils, brown rice, whole wheat, corn and nuts. There is no substitute for the nutrients found in food.

From over 40 human research studies, (we do not consider rats as viable results), not one shows any benefit for muscle recovery in athletes versus placebo, and the few studies that showed minor differences were of poor structural design.

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