BCAAs & Collagen: A High-Performance Combination

March 10, 2021

BCAAs & Collagen: A High-Performance Combination

In this article:

  • What are BCAAs and why do we need them?
  • The role of collagen in our health
  • Why combine BCAAs and collagen?

We’re not always in the mood to hit that treadmill, or power through that last set of squats - and that’s okay! Peak performance and personal bests don’t happen everyday. We all have off days, and recovery is just as important (and sometimes even more important) as the activities themselves. If you gathered the strength to do your workout but you weren’t 100% into it - just remember that the only bad workout is the one you didn’t do, so don’t beat yourself up over it.

But what happens when you feel motivated to break out of your comfort zone and push your limits, but your body doesn’t seem to be up for it? If your streak of low-energy days continues and becomes more than just a phase, it might be a signal that your body is missing something it really needs. As always, it’s important to look at your nutrition as one of the main answers. Since the body requires consistent and high quality fuel in order to reach and maintain a certain level of performance, what we put into the tank really matters. If you’re looking to boost your energy, promote your performance, and protect your ligaments and joints from potential injury, you should consider the powerful combo of BCAAs & Collagen.

What are BCAAs & why do we need them?

BCAAs, short for branched-chain amino acids, are essential amino acids, which means that they cannot be synthesized in the human body. The three groups of BCAAs, leucine, isoleucine, and valine, must be obtained through dietary sources. Because amino acids are the building blocks of protein, their role is an important one. [1]

BCAAs account for a substantial portion of the amino acids found in the body - 35-40% of the total amino acid amount actually. [2] The recognized role of these amino acids in fitness and bodybuilding is based on the fact that 14-18% of the muscular amino acid structure are precisely BCAAs. [2] Yet another significant difference between other amino acids and BCAAs is the fact that they’re mostly broken down in the muscle, not the liver, contributing to the overall energy production during physical activity. [2]

BCAA supplements represent an integral part of nutrition for athletes, including runners, triathletes, and cyclists. [13] Given that BCAAs play a vital role in endurance, muscle synthesis, recovery (both after a workout and after a sports injury), and regulation of soreness, it is no wonder professional athletes and recreational athletes alike, rely heavily on these supplements. Whether it’s in the gym cross-training, working on muscle gain, or out on the pavement, they’re an athlete’s BFF.[13]

But, do you really need a BCAA supplement if you’re not doing any endurance training? While your muscles may not be under so much pressure when swimming, spinning, pilates, and aerobics, the truth is that you can benefit from BCAAs in your diet. Regardless of the duration and the impact of the activity, your muscles could always use some “help” when it comes to recovery and protein synthesis, and you’ll certainly benefit from the energy boost and reduced fatigue!

One way to implement BCAA’s into nutrition is during workouts. If you’re experiencing fatigue when you exercise, try adding BCAAs to your water bottle as they have been shown to reduce both physical and mental fatigue. [2] A study conducted by A. B. Gualano and colleagues found that participants who consumed a BCAA supplement during exercise experienced less fatigue, and were able to endure a 17% longer workout than the placebo group. [3]

Another way you may benefit from BCAA supplementation is by adding them to your post-workout nutrition, especially if you’ve been going hard and need to optimize recovery time. BCAAs have been found to lower the levels of the muscle-damaging enzymes creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase, thus protecting muscles and promoting recovery. [2] What’s more, participants of certain studies have reported a significant decrease (up to 33%) in muscle soreness after taking a post-workout BCAAs supplement. [2]

When it comes to healthy weight loss, building lean muscle while reducing body fat is one of the primary goals. BCAA supplementation has been found to do just that: support the lean muscle-building process while simultaneously decreasing the body fat percentage. [1]

The role of collagen

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, often referred to as the glue that holds the body together. [3] This hard, fibrous, structural protein accounts for one-third of the entire amount of protein in the human body, and consists of long fibrils of molecules. While there are ~16 different types of collagen, you’ll mostly come across type I, II, and III in supplement form, as they make up 80-90% of all collagen. [3] Type I collagen, mostly found in connective tissues, is gram-by-gram stronger than steel - which explains collagen’s irreplaceable structural role in the body. It’s literally the “glue” that holds us together!