Written by Dan Rayner
Are BCAAs Suitable For Football?
One of the most used supplements in the fitness industry. So, what are branch chain amino acids? They are made up of three essential amino acids – leucine, isoleucine and valine. The reason they are classed as ‘essential’ is because they must be consumed from the diet, as the body can’t synthesise them.
Branch chain amino acids can be a useful supplement, more so when your body is in a calorie deficit. Since you are limiting your food to a certain calorie intake, there is more of a chance of muscle breakdown. On the other hand, if you compare that to someone who is in a calorie surplus, they will be eating more food throughout the day, providing their bodies with more nutrients, more vitamins, more minerals and giving themselves more chance for muscle building and muscle recovery! Nevertheless, supplementing with BCAA’s can assist in the prevention of muscle breakdown no matter what your current goal or what your current daily calories add up to.
So, can you take them before, after and during your football match? Yes! They will assist in helping to prevent muscle breakdown whilst you’re running around a pitch for 90 minutes! Pre-kick off and half time would be perfect opportunities to take on board some BCAA’s for many reasons.
Firstly, they won’t sit on your stomach. Yes, you can eat something at the half time or just before the match starts to get more BCAA’s into your system, but this could lead to bloating and a very uncomfortable feeling. Especially as at the half time you typically only have 15 minutes to digest the food!
Secondly, BCAA supplementation can come in the form of powder and tablets. Both very easy and quick to consume! Especially with powder form, you can add this into your pre-match water bottle and sip it throughout the whole game!
Thirdly, ensure your nutrition is to a high standard before and after the game. Supplementation will work a lot better alongside and already well-controlled diet. Pre-game carbohydrates and proteins are essential to aid your energy levels and to help prevent muscle breakdown.
Ensure you consume a decent sized meal 90-120 minutes before kick-off. This should give your body enough time to digest the food properly and put it to good use later. Same principles work post game, get on board some good quality protein and some good carbohydrates in the form of both complex and simple carbs! Preferably as soon as you can after the game to refuel your system and to start the recovery process immediately.
I always felt a good quality protein powder (that has a good BCAA profile) combined with a banana, was a quick and easy way to get your system repairing and to help replenish your glycogen stores. Stores that have been depleted during the game (glycogen is what your body uses for energy). Combining all this with your intra-match BCAA’s and now you’re fuelling your body correctly and ensuring you will get the most out of your game!
Lastly, from my own personal experiences when I used to play football, I always felt that a combination of a BCAA’s and caffeine was the best way to help me get the most out of my game! BCAA’s can also come in the supplementation area of ‘energy’. Some products provide you with leucine, isoleucine, valine and other ingredients such as caffeine, vitamins and minerals.
Seeing as though you’re going to be running around for 90 minutes, possibly even longer if you need extra time and penalties (I’ve been there before!) You may prefer a product that also gives you a buzz and a kick as well as a good BCAA profile!