Running is a physically demanding sport that requires a lot of energy, endurance, and strength. To perform at your best, the body needs to be properly fueled; amino acids are one of this fuel’s key components sports people need. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins your body uses for many functions, including muscle growth and repair, hormone production, and immune system support. In this guide, we’ll discuss the importance of branched-chain amino acids: BCAAs for runners’ recovery, training and improvement. As well as detailed information on BCAAs, we’ll also provide a guide to some of the best BCAA supplements on the market.

Table of Contents: BCAAs For Runners Guide

Best BCAAs For Runners

You’ve come to the right place if you are a runner searching for the best BCAAs to enhance your performance. We have compiled a list of our top picks for BCAA supplements currently available. Check out the section below to discover which ones made the cut and why they are worth considering for your fitness regimen.

Applied Nutrition BCAA Amino-Hydrate Next Generation

Essential Aminos Acids by LLS - 300 Tablets

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA Train & Sustain Powder

Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy Pre-Workout Powder

USN Core BCAA+ Power Punch Powder

ILN 2400mg BCAAs with Vitamin D - 120 Tablets

Supplemented BCAA Capsules

What Are BCAAs: Amino Acid Information

Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are a group of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They are called ‘essential’ because your body cannot produce them independently, meaning they must be obtained from your diet or supplements.

BCAAs are unique because they are metabolised directly in the muscles instead of the liver, allowing them to be used immediately as an energy source during exercise. This makes them particularly beneficial for runners.

Three Types Of BCAAs For Runners

There are three different types of BCAAs, each with its unique benefits:

  1. Leucine: the primary BCAA and one that is essential for protein synthesis and muscle growth. 
  2. Isoleucine: helps regulate blood sugar levels, aids energy production, and reduces fatigue during exercise. 
  3. Valine: improves cognitive function and alertness, aids in producing hormones, and helps reduce post-exercise soreness.

These three BCAAs can be essential for runners to repair muscle tissue, maintain energy levels during exercise, and expedite recovery times. Taking a BCAA supplement before or after a run ensures your body has the necessary building blocks to recover quickly.

The Benefits of BCAAs for Runners

  1. Muscle Recovery and Repair: BCAAs, especially leucine, stimulate protein synthesis, which your body uses to build new muscle tissue. This can help speed recovery and reduce muscle soreness after a long run.
  2. Energy Production: During prolonged exercise, your body can start to break down muscle tissue to use as an energy source. BCAAs provide an alternative energy source, helping to preserve muscle tissue.
  3. Reduced Fatigue: BCAAs can help reduce perceived exertion and mental fatigue during running. This means you may feel more energised and able to push harder during your workouts.

How to Use BCAAs

Using BCAAs for Runner Before A Workout

BCAA supplements come in various forms, including powders, capsules, and ready-to-drink beverages. The most popular way to take BCAAs is in powder form, mixed with water. Depending on your personal preference and goals, you can consume it before, during, or after your run. However, as you can see from the top picks above, they are also available in tablet and capsule form.

The recommended dosage varies depending on factors like your weight, the intensity of your workout, and your overall protein intake. However, a typical dosage is between 5-10 grams per day. However, to start with, we suggest following the instructions on the specific brand you’ve chosen.

Scientific Studies Into BCAAs and Sport Performance

Numerous scientific studies have been conducted on BCAAs and sports performance, with generally positive results. For example, one study published in the Journal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry found that an intake of the BCAA can lower serotonin, a central fatigue substance, during endurance exercise, thereby reducing the concentrations of muscle damage.

In another study published, researchers looked at how the timing of BCAAs impacted exercise-induced muscle soreness. Their results suggested athletes would be better off taking BCAAs before exercise.

These studies show that supplementing with BCAAs can benefit runners looking to improve their performance and recovery times. However, more research is needed to understand the effects of BCAAs on running performance fully. 

When Should Runners Take BCAAs?

Drinking BCAAs Powders Before Running

BCAAs can be taken at any time of day, but most runners prefer to take them either before or after their runs. Pre-workout BCAAs can help boost energy levels and can help reduce fatigue and soreness.

Combining your BCAAs with a balanced diet and adequate hydration is recommended for the best results. It’s also important to remember that BCAAs are only one part of your overall recovery routine; other things like stretching, foam rolling, and massage can also help keep you in top shape. 

Choosing the right BCAA supplement for your needs can be tricky, but there are some key points to consider. Generally, BCAAs should be free from artificial ingredients, fillers, and unnecessary additives. Choosing a product tested for safety and efficacy backed by user experiences is also essential.

Are BCAAs Supplements Safe & Legal?

BCAAs are generally safe and legal to use. They are considered dietary supplements, so they do not require approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, as with any supplement, it is vital to check the label for allergen information and follow the dosage instructions on the packaging.

Speaking to your doctor before taking any new supplements is essential, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or have a medical condition. This way, you can ensure the supplement is safe and won’t interfere with existing medications.

Getting BCAAs From Food Sources

Natural BCAAs For Runners From Food

Although supplements are a convenient way to get your BCAAs, they are also possible from food sources. Some of the best food sources of BCAAs include meat, fish, eggs, dairy products such as yoghurt and milk, and specific plant-based proteins like soybeans and quinoa.

Eating a well-rounded, balanced diet is critical to getting the nutrients your body needs. For runners, adding some of these BCAAs-rich foods into your meal plan can help support muscle growth and recovery and keep your energy levels up.

Final Thoughts On BCAAs For Runners

BCAAs are essential to the runner’s diet and can help with muscle recovery, energy production, and fatigue reduction. They come in various forms and can be taken before, during, or after a run.
When choosing a BCAA supplement, look for products free from artificial ingredients, fillers, and products tested for safety and efficacy.

Remember that BCAAs are only one part of a balanced diet; other foods rich in BCAAs can also help with muscle recovery and provide energy for running. With the right nutrition plan, you’ll be well on your way to achieving your running goals. Looking for similar articles on our website, then take a look at our running nutrition section where we cover training and race fuelling.

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