The long-held notion that athletes should fuel primarily with carbohydrates is old news. Yes, carbohydrate is the body’s preferred fuel, but that doesn’t mean the diet should be as heavy in carbs as we were once taught. Diets rich in carbohydrate also tend to be low in protein and as a result lack in branched chain amino acids.
The branched chain amino acids (BCAA) include leucine, valine and isoleucine. These amino acids are potent stimulants of muscle building and repair, and are most effective when consumed in the post exercise window (about 30 minutes). Consumed after a workout, the help reverse the natural breakdown of muscle that occurs, and can decrease recovery time as a result.
Still it seems old habits die hard, and athletes tend to favor the consumption of starchy carbs in the form of pasta, bread, rice, potatoes, and sugary foods. Consumption of these foods comes at the expense of lean meats and protein; many athletes tend to shun fat and protein in favor of a carbohydrate rich diet.
1000 calories of animal protein contains roughly 38 grams of BCAA while 1000 calories of whole grains only contains 6 grams of BCAA.
If you are someone who doesn’t fancy the idea of turkey, fish or beef immediately after your workout, BCAAs can also be consumed as a supplement. We add the powdered form to our post-workout drink to ensure that we get them at the right time when the body can utilize them most effectively.