Scivation Xtend BCAA's: How and why they work
Before this fall season started I took a month off from training. I only ran 3-5 miles every 2 or 3 days when I felt like it. I upped my strength training a bit to focus on improving my glute and hip strength. I wanted to make a full recovery from my period of overtraining so that I could start fresh. During this period, I also volunteered for a study that looked at the effects of BCAA supplementation on body composition, resting metabolism, and satiety for females between the ages of 18-35. Leucine, isoleucine, and valine are essential branched chain amino acids that the human body cannot create on its own and must be ingested. Through this study I was able to take away a few key pieces of information which ultimately put me back on track.
There are 20 building blocks of protein also known as amino acids. The body produces 11 on its own and the rest are considered essential amino acids. The 4 most important for endurance athletes being: leucine, isoleucine, valine, and glutamine. From the study I found a few suprising benefits from utilizing the BCAA’s. The first being a lack of soreness. I had gone back to taking an hour body pump class at the gym. Body pump works almost every muscle in the body with a track for squats, lunges, chest, biceps, triceps, back, and abs utilizing a bar with varied weights (nothing heavy) with high reps. That being said, in the past I was super sore after taking this class, especially when it had been months since the last time I went. But I noticed right away that I was not having this hindrance. By the end of the study my results showed a few things. One, I had started burning more fat at rest; two, my basal metabolic rate (calories burned at rest) went up; and three, my body comp didn’t change. Normally during break periods I put on a little fat and a few extra lbs from the lack of running. I lose a little muscle mass when I go from 60-100 miles a week to 10-15. But during this break things stayed relatively even. For this study I was supplementing 3 times a day for a total of 28.5g of BCAA's for a total of 3 weeks. This is higher than necessary but for the purpose of the study this value was used. This season I began drinking a bottle before I ran and later on in the evening. If I had a hard workout or was feeling beat after a run I would take one bottle afterwards as well. Scivation also produces Xtend Go which is the same BCAA product but with caffeine for the energy boost and L-Theanine for better mental clarity and no caffeine jitters! The other beneficial product is Xtend Perform which has patent pending Peak O2 to increase O2 uptake.
The results weren’t huge changes but they were enough to convince me to begin incorporating BCAA’s into my training regimen. I did more research and found this article on how BCAA’s can be beneficial to endurance athletes. In the body building world, BCAA’s are a common thing, but the topic hasn’t been as prevalent in endurance training. We aren’t looking to bulk so it’s use is valuable in a different way. From what I learned during the study and from what I learned through this season is that they promote faster and better recovery. If you missed my recent post regarding my nutrition for Indy Monumental Marathon then check it out here. Basically my supplementation with both UCAN and Scivation Xtend created an optimal scenario for me to recover and push through at the end of my marathon. UCAN’s superstarch, which is a complex carbohydrate, allows the body to tap into stored fat for energy. When running at a marathon pace, you typically are going easy enough in the beginning to burn a combination of carbs and fat for energy. As your heart rate increases you transition to primarily relying on glycogen stores. Adding the BCAA proteins actually helped me to burn more fat and more efficiently utilize my glycogen stores.
To take everything a step further, UCAN taken within 30min of intense exercise helps to extend the critical recovery window so that more of what you eat in the hours after working out is utilized to help the body recover. Adding the Scivation Xtend BCAA’s which contain a 2:1:1 ratio of Leucine, isoleucine, and valine, gave my muscles an extra edge for recovery as these three amino acids are the most important for rebuilding broken down muscle tissue.
In what seemed like a miracle, I was walking down stairs no problem the day after running a marathon. I was pretty sore immediately after the race and my mad rush to the airport was difficult to say the least. I pretty much hobbled through security. But when I woke up the next morning a lot of that soreness resided. I made it out to the Oiselle City of Oaks Cheer Squad Sunday morning and walked around that day. While I was a little slow I didn’t feel bad. I had been warned that going down stairs would suck but I never had a problem. By Monday I wasn’t sore in the slightest bit. How and why? I drank 2 bottles a day of 16oz of water mixed with 1 scoop of Scivation Xtend BCAA’s and 1 scoop of Beta Alanine.
Now that I have been taking a break for training I have been using a scoop of Scivation Xtend twice a day, once in the morning and once at night right before bed. I like having it at night because the extra protein helps to get better sleep. For the first 10 days post marathon I did not run. I did about 35 miles on the elliptigo for some low impact cross training and kept up with my strength work. This past week I ran twice for a grand total of about 7 miles. My body is feeling pretty good but I plan to keep on active recovery for the rest of this month. Next week I will be retesting all of my biomarkers with InsideTracker's ultimate package. To make sure I am properly recovering and to begin correcting any areas that need improvement I will be retesting all my biomarkers with InsideTracker's ultimate package. I have big goals for the spring and in order to capitalize on the work I did this fall I need to make sure everything is on track. My next post will be comparing my InsideTracker results from pre trials to pre Indy. The differences were definitely interesting!
Other Tools for Recovery
- Tart Cherry Juice from Montmorency Cherries: Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, Montmorency Cherries are now relied for easing muscle soreness after exercise. These tart cherries are also beneficial for a better nights sleep.
- Elliptigo Cross Training: The ellipigo bike better resembles the running motion and allows for an all-over body workout. Low-impact to relieve joints and tired legs.
- Beta Alanine: Beta Alanine has an effect on lactate threshold which is the perfect equilibrium between lactic acid production and elimination. The amino acid Carnosine, which is regulated by Beta Alanine, plays a role in ph level balance. When the ph level in the body drops the body has a hard time reaching the lactate equilibrium which affects performance. Endurance training increases you carnosine levels and beta alanine can further increase them which in turn provides and increase in lactate threshold.