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Build & Repair Muscle Naturally

Creatine, Glutamine & BCAA's

Q: I love playing beach volleyball in the summer, and would like to improve my stamina and recovery time. I keep hearing about BCAAs and creatine. Are those helpful? 

A: Summer season is upon us. For some that may mean hitting the gym more, running marathons, or participating in outdoor sports like beach volleyball.  Increasing physical activity during the summer translates into muscle wear and tear and a demand for more fuel and energy.

Providing your body with the proper building blocks is essential to sustain physical activity without becoming depleted. Staying hydrated and replenishing electrolytes while being active in the hot summer sun is of utmost importance. To help build lean muscle tissue while meeting newly elevated energy requirements, make sure to eat more clean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. In addition to dietary adjustments, some athletes and weight trainers supplement with Creatine, branch chain amino acids (BCAAs), and L-Glutamine to improve endurance, lean muscle development and recovery time.

Creatine helps supply energy to cells throughout the body through its role in the production of ATP, a compound that when broken down, produces energy for cells to “perform work”. This makes it essential to components of the body with high-energy demands, such as brain and skeletal muscle.  95% of creatine is stored in skeletal muscle for rapid ATP replenishment on site. Literature shows that it is most effective in high-intensity training and explosive activities like weight training or sports that require short energy bursts, like sprinting and baseball.

BCAAs, a group of 3 amino acids, Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine, are aptly named due to their unique structures that have a forked outcropping that resembles a branch. They are essential amino acids, meaning their existence is dependent on dietary sources of protein because the body cannot synthesize them.  BCAAs are important because they comprise roughly 1/3 of the amino acids in skeletal muscle. BCAAs are especially beneficial during prolonged exercise when energy demand is increased, because they are broken down locally to make ATP.  BCAAs also aid in using fat as an alternate fuel source to help meet the energy demands when glycogen, the immediate source of glucose for muscle cells, is depleted during endurance exercise.  Data suggests that supplementation, both before and after exercise, is of benefit because it helps repair exercise-induced damage, decreases muscle soreness, reduces muscle fatigue, and increases muscle function and protein synthesis.

Glutamine is the most abundant free amino acid in the body, and makes up 60% of skeletal muscle.  The body naturally produces and stores it in muscles cells, and when the body requires it, muscle tissue gets broken down to release it. Under certain circumstances, production and storage may be inadequate to meet demand, such as in people who exercise regularly. This is commonly found in those who participate in resistance training. Supplementation with Glutamine can help prevent wear and tear of muscle tissue during physical stress such as exercise.

Hydration and nutrition are key for a healthy active summer, but you might want to consider supplementing with BCAAs, Creatine, and/or Glutamine for some extra TLC for your muscles.