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You have heard the term “amino acids,” but if you are an endurance athlete, it's worth learning a few things about branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are a subset of amino acids. They include three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
What makes the BCAAs different? They help the body process protein, which is what allows you to build muscle and preserve a lean body mass. In addition, studies have shown that working muscles call on BCAAs as an energy source. So the more you exercise, the more you could benefit from supplemental BCAAs.
BCAAs may also help you recover after tough workouts more quickly. One study found that adult men and women who took 5 grams of BCAAs (the amount found in 20-25 grams of a whey protein supplement) reported less muscle soreness and fatigue immediately following a strength training workout, compared to exercisers who took a placebo supplement. And Dieters should be taking BCAAs, which can be burned for energy. They spare muscle while on calorie-restricted diets
But amino acids and BCAAs aren't just for athletes. A study of men and women 65 to 79 years old showed that BCAA supplements improved leg muscle strength, which declines with age. Maintaining strong muscles as you get older may reduce the risk for falls and other injuries.