Savasana Juice Cleanse Diary – Part 2, and My Thoughts on Deadlifts

Juice Cleanse Diary – Part 2

I got quite a bit of attention for my first juice cleanse post. I thought I would update you since I’m now on my 5th day. I think I would  be enjoying this more if there was more variety in the juices. They all have apple, lemon, or celery flavors. This really isn’t my type of diet. Not that it’s not working. I can definitely tell the difference in my energy level, and an unexpected bonus is that my fall allergies aren’t bothering me as much. I probably won’t do this again mostly because I look forward to good, healthy food as a bright spot in my day. I enjoy eating whole, good foods. I don’t look forward to drinking the juice. So although it has many benefits, it’s not really the ideal way of doing things for me.

yucky juice

Deadlifts: Friend or Foe?

The deadlift http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WP8lEbeY4LM is one of the most basic barbell lifts there is. Basic, but not simple. Without proper form, deadlifts can cause more injury than almost any other movement. Let’s talk about why people even practice deadlifts if they are so dangerous. The answer is that they work many of the largest muscles in the body, and this style of lift is capable of moving the most weight. It is also said to increase the load capabilities of the spine by increasing the bone mineral density of the vertebrae (1). This idea has a law behind it called Wolff’s Law. It states that healthy mammalian bone will adapt to heavy loads (2). But you have to subject the spine to those loads if you want the benefits.

Current World Record Holders of the Deadlift

  • 114 Pound Class – E. Sajeeva Bhaskaran: 573.2 pound deadlift
  • 123 Pound Class – Lamar Gant: 639.3 pound deadlift
  • 132 Pound Class – Lamar Gant: 683.4 pound deadlift
  • 148 Pound Class – Dan Austin: 705.5 pound deadlift
  • 165 Pound Class – Oleksandr Kutcher: 793.7 pound deadlift
  • 181 Pound Class – Giovanni Brunazzi: 793.7 pound deadlift
  • 198 Pound Class – Ed Coan: 859.8 pound deadlift
  • 220 Pound Class – Ed Coan: 901.7 pound deadlift
  • 242 Pound Class – Yuriy Fedorenko: 892.9 pound deadlift
  • 275 Pound Class – Konstantin Konstantinovs: 948 pound deadlift
  • 308 Pound Class – Konstantin Konstantinovs: 939.2 pound deadlift
  • 308+ Pound Class – Benedikt Magnusson: 1015 pound deadlift

If you or someone you know has an aversion to deadlifts because of lower back pain, I would encourage that person to check their form with a pro and also read this great article with lots of tips and tricks to improve.

I am a firm believer, however, that strict deadlifts may not be right for everyone, at least at first. There is some hip flexibility that goes into proper deadlift form. A simple solution to this problem is to perform the deadlift with the barbell up on some boxes. As hip flexibility improves, the boxes can be reduced, then removed all together.

Also, anyone with any kind of previous lower back injury should consult a physician before attempting deadlifts. Any deficit in the posterior spine can be a weak spot for the vertebral compression created by a deadlift.

The bottom line is this: a deadlift can be one of your greatest fitness weapons if done correctly under qualified supervision.

deadlifts-big-muscles

 

1. Granhed HJonson RHansson T. The loads on the lumbar spine during extreme weight lifting. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1987 Mar;12(2):146-9.

2.  Wolff J. “The Law of Bone Remodeling”. Berlin Heidelberg New York: Springer, 1986 (translation of the German 1892 edition)

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Afterburn and Creatine Because My Boyfriend is a Curious Cat

I’m always looking for ways to make the most out of my workouts without risking anything else. For instance, I take BCAAs to help repair my muscles after a tough workout. I do not take anabolic steroids to up my performance because those are dangerous. I’m willing to try things that don’t have risks. Because I’m interested in burning the highest amount of calories with the shortest amount of time in the gym, I do short intense workouts to increase my afterburn. Afterburn and creatine are closely related, but the subject is kinda deep. Here we go.

“Afterburn” is an informal name for the science term “exercise post-exercise oxygen consumption” or EPOC. EPOC is the process of taking in oxygen at a higher rate than normal after exercise (1).  EPOC occurs with a greater effect after anaerobic exercise. Anaerobic exercise pathways are activated by fast-twitch muscles, which are used for anything intense (2).  Prolonged activities that require short energy bursts also activate anaerobic pathways for energy and muscle recovery between bursts (3).

I like my afterburn high. The top line (solid, with squares) represents high-intensity exercise (75%) compared with the others. On the x-axis, the measurement of EPOC starts at 0.

There are two types of anaerobic pathways: anaerobic glycolysis, and high-energy phosphates. The glycolysis pathway uses blood glucose and muscle glycogen stores, with a build-up of lactic acid. Aerobic glycolysis utilizes the same pathway more efficiently when oxygen and ATP are available. Anaerobic glycolysis has a by-product of lactic acid which is what causes the sore, tired feeling in muscles during exercise, but for extremely fast actions like a heavy lift or a jump, anaerobic high-energy phosphate pathways are used (4).

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and creatine phosphate (CP) are compounds stored in the muscles. When either is catabolized, a large amount of energy is released. ATP is the energy molecule utilized by most energy pathways, so after one phosphate group is lost by ATP making is ADP (adenosine DIphosphate), CP can donate its phosphate group to ADP becoming creatine, which is a nitrogenous organic acid that many athletes consume as a supplement. The energy released by CP is coupled with the phosphorylation of ADP (5).

Property of Samuel Tiukuvaara, used with permission

Property of Samuel Tiukuvaara, used with permission

Since only small amounts of ATP and CP can be stored in the muscles, this pathway is used up in under 30 secs (5), but that was published in 1979 before creatine supplements became too popular. Supplements of creatine have been shown to increase the amount of CP stored.  During periods of rest, excess ATP can be used to phosphorylate the creatine and supplemental creatine for future energy bursts (6). This is one of the purposes of EPOC.

Think of all that changes physically and chemically during a workout: hormones, fuel stores, cells are damaged, nerves are hyper-aware. The processes required for everything to return to normal require oxygen, hence EPOC (7). ATP and glycogen have been used up, so where does the body acquire another energy source? Fat stores (8). Quite ideal for those of us trying to lose weight. This post-workout fat-burning effect can last anywhere from 3 to 38 hours depending on the exercise intensity and duration (9).

Although aerobic exercise has been found to burn more calories during the workout, anaerobic exercise has a much greater afterburn, and takes energy from the exact place most people want it to: the subcutaneous fat (10). Some of the first studies failed to take calories and diet into account when taking this measurement, but later studies have corrected for this and found similar results (11-13).

 

Now to me it seems logical that creatine supplementation is somewhat useless considering the muscle cells can only store so much, but being a scientist, I set out to change my own mind.  Here are the risks and rewards of creatine supplementation now that you all know what creatine is.

The athletes and fitness gurus who take creatine are usually advised by labels to take a certain amount that contains 2-3x more creatine than would be consumed in a very high protein diet (14). There are many studies claiming risks of creatine dosage, but there is not enough evidence to convince most scientists. The risks caused by creatine supplementation that these studies have claimed are as follows: dehydration and muscle cramping (15, 16), kidney (17) and liver damage (18) in those predisposed , and increased internal production of formaldehyde which is a very damaging chemical (19). One creatine risk that is highly accepted among the scientific community is that creatine supplementation can increase asthma symptoms, even if one does not have asthma (17).  Also, many common supplements are laced with heavy metals and toxins. A study conducted by the European Food Safety Authority found that of 33 surveyed products, over 50% had toxic contaminants that exceeded regulation levels (20, 21).

However, there is no truly significant evidence to say that creatine is very dangerous at 5-20 mg/day. Also, it has been shown to increase muscular output in about 70% of studies by increasing the amount of creatine available for phosphorylation before a workout, and de-phosphorylation during a workout (22). A number of athletes have been shown to have increased performance from creatine supplementation, but it is most beneficial for short, higher intensity activities (23). For about 40% of individuals, there is no increase in output because muscles are unable to further store creatine in creatine pools in the muscles (24). Genetics? Yeah, probably the differences in the expression of the gene coding for a creatine transporter. Read more about it here.

This study (25) attempted to bypass the creatine transporter by combining creatine with combinations of other things to no avail. It seems like it will either work for you or not. There isn’t much you can do about it. (PLA = placebo, CRT and CEE are variations of creatine to try to get around the transporter. Notice the plateau for both creatine variations after Day 6)

Changes in muscle total creatine with data expressed as mean (± SD). † indicates a significant difference among groups where the PLA group was significantly less than the CRT (p = 0.026) and CEE (p = 0.041) groups. * indicates significant differences over the course of the four testing sessions where CRT increased at day 6 (p = 0.041) and 27 (p= 0.036), and CEE only increased at day 27 (p = 0.043). Spillane et al. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2009 6:6   doi:10.1186/1550-2783-6-6

Changes in muscle total creatine with data expressed as mean (± SD). † indicates a significant difference among groups where the PLA group was significantly less than the CRT (p = 0.026) and CEE (p = 0.041) groups. 
Spillane et al. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2009 6:6 doi:10.1186/1550-2783-6-6

 

There is sound evidence here that regular creatine supplementation can increase athletic performance for some, 60-70% of people. Some studies claim that creatine increases muscle mass, but there is no sound evidence for that claim. Creatine increases energy expenditure. It does not directly affect muscle mass, in my opinion. This idea that it can is probably an indirect assumption stemming from increasing exercise which increases muscle damage which THEN increases muscle mass by incorporating protein and glycogen into healing the muscles, making them bigger.

There is also a claim that if weight loss is you goal, avoid creatine. There is no sound evidence for this, but it makes sense to me this way. I want a great big afterburn every time I work out. I want to be losing/maintaining my weight when I’ve been out of the gym for 12 hours. The purpose of creatine is to speed the recovery and avoid dipping into other energy sources like fat stores. I WANT to get into those fat stores. What I have just said has no scientific backing, but many have complained about not losing weight when supplementing with creatine.

If your goal is only performance, go for it with caution. If you want to lose weight, my gut says avoid it. I’m a fan of going as natural as possible. If it weren’t for the scary contaminants that have been found in a lot of creatine, I might have given it a try.

I welcome anyone’s opinion on this topic, as I could be totally wrong about losing the afterburn.

 

 

1. Scott CB, Kemp RB (January 2005). “Direct and indirect calorimetry of lactate oxidation: implications for whole-body energy expenditure”. Journal of Sports Sciences 23 (1): 15–9.

2. Medbo, JI; Mohn, Tabata, Bahr, Vaage, Sejersted (January 1988). “Anaerobic capacity determined by maximal accumulated O2 deficit”Journal of Applied Physiology 64 (1): 50–60. Retrieved 14 May 2011.

3. Scott, Christopher B (June 2005). “Contribution of anaerobic energy expenditure to whole body thermogenesis”Nutrition & Metabolism. 14 2doi:10.1186/1743-7075-2-14. Retrieved 14 May 2011.

4. Di Prompero, PE; G. Ferretti (Dec. 1). “The energetics of anaerobic muscle metabolism”.Respiration Physiology 118 (2-3): 103–115.

5. Fox, Edward (1979). Sports Physiology. United States of America: Saunders College Publishing. pp. 9–11

6. Schlattner, U.; Tokarska-Schlattner, M., and Wallimann, T. (2006). “Mitochondrial creatine kinase in human health and disease”. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta – Molecular Basis of Disease 1762 (2): 164–180

7. Saladin, Kenneth (2012). Anatomy & Physiology: The Unity of Form and Function. New York: McGraw Hill. p. 425.

8. Bahr R (1992). “Excess postexercise oxygen consumption–magnitude, mechanisms and practical implications”. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica. Supplementum 605: 1–70

9.  Schuenke MD, Mikat RP, McBride JM (March 2002). “Effect of an acute period of resistance exercise on excess post-exercise oxygen consumption: implications for body mass management”. European Journal of Applied Physiology 86(5): 411–7.

10. “Impact of Exercise Intensity on Body Fatness and Skeletal Muscle Metabolism”. Exrx.net. Retrieved 2010-07-29.

11.  Reynolds, Jeff M; Kravitz, Len. “Resistance Training and EPOC”. Retrieved April 21, 2005.

12.  Børsheim E, Bahr R (2003). “Effect of exercise intensity, duration and mode on post-exercise oxygen consumption”.Sports Medicine 33 (14): 1037–60.

13.  Baker, E. J., and T. T. Gleeson. EPOC and the energetics of brief locomotor activity in Mus domesticus. J. Exp. Zool. 280: 114–120, 1998.

14. “Creatine – Sources in the Diet”. Examine.com. Retrieved 22 January 2013.

15. Lopez RM, Casa DJ, McDermott BP, Ganio MS, Armstrong LE, Maresh CM (2009). “Does Creatine Supplementation Hinder Exercise Heat Tolerance or Hydration Status? A Systematic Review With Meta-Analyses”. Journal of Athletic Training 44 (2): 215–23.

16.  Dalbo VJ, Roberts MD, Stout JR, Kerksick CM (July 2008). “Putting to rest the myth of creatine supplementation leading to muscle cramps and dehydration”. British Journal of Sports Medicine 42 (7): 567–73.

17. “Creatine: Safety”. MayoClinic.com. Retrieved 2010-08-16.

18. Poortmans JR, Francaux M (September 2000). “Adverse effects of creatine supplementation: fact or fiction?”. Sports Medicine 30 (3): 155–70.

19.  Francaux M, Poortmans JR (December 2006). “Side effects of creatine supplementation in athletes”. International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance 1 (4): 311–23.

20. Moreta S, Prevarin A, Tubaro F. (June 2011). “Levels of creatine, organic contaminants and heavy metals in creatine dietary supplements”Food Chemistry 126 (3): 1232–1238.

21. Pischel I, Gastner T. (2007) Creatine – its chemical synthesis, chemistry, and legal status. Subcell Biochem 46:291-307

22.  Bizzarini E, De Angelis L (December 2004). “Is the use of oral creatine supplementation safe?”. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 44 (4): 411–6.

23. Kerksick C, Harvey T, Stout J, Campbell B, Wilborn C, Kreider R, Kalman D, Ziegenfuss T, Lopez H, Landis J, Ivy JL, Antonio J (2008)  International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: nutrient timing. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 5:17 (Erratum in J Int Soc Sports Nutr 5:18)

24. Kreider R: Creatine supplementation: analysis of ergogenic value, medical safety, and concerns. JEPonline 1998, 1:1-6

25. Spillane, M; Schoch, R; Cooke, M; Harvey, T; Greenwood, M; Kreider, R; Willoughby, DS. “The effects of creatine ethyl ester supplementation combined with heavy resistance training on body composition, muscle performance, and serum and muscle creatine levels”. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 6: 6

The Science of Stretching Before a Workout

When I walk into the box to warm up for my CrossFit workout, I do some various stretches, some squats, row 200 m, etc. I see other people doing a variety of things to warm up, as well. The general consensus about what kind of stretching is appropriate seems to change daily on exercise and health websites, so I dug into some science.

Image

All scientists love review articles because they combine all of the currently accepted literature. The review article that I am going to discuss is this one by Phil Page, PT, PhD, ATC, CSCS, FACSM. “Current Concepts in Muscle Stretching for Exercise and Rehabilitation.” (1)

The point of stretching is to increase range of motion (ROM).  A lot of factors go into ROM. One is the shape and angles of your joints. Obviously, bone can’t be stretched out. Another factor is the geometry of the ligaments that attach muscles to bones. These also don’t really stretch. The only modifiable factor is muscle. Muscles provide two types to tension during a stretch: passive tension is caused by the physical condition of the muscle, the composition. This can be changed by exercise. Active tension by the muscle is the natural reflex reaction of the muscle to contract. Think of your fingers. You can bend them back quite far by force, but you can’t bend them back that far without the force. The muscles naturally contract. Stretching can increase the distance between the two areas that the muscle attaches.

There are three types of stretching: static, dynamic, and ballistic.

stretch

Static stretching, where you position a stretch and hold it, is the most common. Dynamic stretching is more active and mainly consists of doing the activity you are preparing for with exaggerated motions. For instance, when preparing for a run, warm up by running with knees higher than normal, or feet kicking back further than normal. Ballistic stretching is jerking on the muscle that you wish to stretch. An example: when stretching you hamstring, you kick your leg into the air. This can be dangerous to the muscles and is no longer recommended by health professionals.

There are two ways that static stretching can affect the muscles. One is actually physically lengthening the muscle. The other and more common is simply increasing the tolerance of the muscle to be stretched (2).  Most studies have determined that 10-30 seconds is long enough for a static stretch hold, but others say 15 seconds is the minimum amount of time before any muscle lengthening occurs (3). Repeating static stretches 2-4 times can yield further improvements, but any more repetitions have no effect (4).

Has anyone ever done a surprise workout and not stretched beforehand? Didn’t that workout seem easier? It did for me. I thought maybe it was all in my head, but it turns out, I was right. Static stretching before a workout has been shown to decrease muscle strength, and decrease running and jumping abilities (5, 6). This phenomenon is not well understood and varies among individuals, but it has been termed: “stretch-induced strength loss” (7). Obviously, this condition does not last, but static stretching right before a workout could very well deter performance. One way to get around this is to practice “maximal contraction” before the static stretch. So flex the muscle you’re about to stretch as hard as you can, and then stretch it. This reduces the strength loss during static stretching. No one know exactly why this helps, but it has been hypothesized that the muscle undergoes something termed “autogenic inhibition” after contraction where the nervous reflex relaxes and allows the length of the muscle to increase (8).

While both static and dynamic stretching improve ROM equally (9), dynamic stretching done right before a workout can improve muscle strength and running and jumping ability during that workout (10, 11). Another benefit of dynamic stretching is the constant movement, which keeps muscles warmer and more active. It is also more specific in that you are warming up by doing the activity you are preparing for (12).

After all of this information, many people will still claim that they aren’t very worried about performance and statically stretch to prevent injury. Some studies claim that this is a valid point (13), while others say there is no significant of risk muscle injury by not statically stretching (14). Most experts agree that more evidence is required before it can be stated as fact that static stretching alone can reduce the risk of muscle injury (7, 14).

Both types of stretching are great for after a workout, but stick to the dynamic warm-ups before a workout to maximize performance. There are exceptions to this rule. Activities like dancing and gymnastics depend a lot more on flexibility than most other activities, and could be enhanced greatly by a static warm-up as well as a dynamic one (13). Better yet, do some yoga on your day off.

yoga

1. Phil Page, PT, PhD, ATC, CSCS, FACSM. “Current Concepts in Muscle Stretching for Exercise and Rehabilitation.” Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2012 February, 7 (1): 109-119

2. Chan SP, Hong Y, Robinson PD. Flexibility and passive resistance of the hamstrings of young adults using two different static stretching protocols. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports. Apr 2001;11(2):81–86

3. Bandy WD, Irion JM. The effect of time on static stretch on the flexibility of the hamstring muscles. Phys Ther. Sep 1994;74(9):845–850; discussion 850–842. [PubMed]

4. Taylor DC, Dalton JD, Jr., Seaber AV, Garrett WE., Jr. Viscoelastic properties of muscle-tendon units. The biomechanical effects of stretching. Am J Sports Med. May-Jun 1990;18(3):300–309.

5. Herda TJ, Cramer JT, Ryan ED, McHugh MP, Stout JR. Acute effects of static versus dynamic stretching on isometric peak torque, electromyography, and mechanomyography of the biceps femoris muscle. J Strength Cond Res. May 2008;22(3):809–817.

6. Young W, Elias G, Power J. Effects of static stretching volume and intensity on plantar flexor explosive force production and range of motion. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. Sep 2006;46(3):403–411.

7. McHugh MP, Cosgrave CH. To stretch or not to stretch: the role of stretching in injury prevention and performance. Scandinavian journal of medicine & science in sports. Apr 2010;20(2):169–181.

8. Kay AD, Blazevich AJ. Concentric muscle contractions before static stretching minimize, but do not remove, stretch-induced force deficits. J Appl Physiol. Mar 2010;108(3):637–645.

9. de Weijer VC, Gorniak GC, Shamus E. The effect of static stretch and warm-up exercise on hamstring length over the course of 24 hours. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. Dec 2003;33(12):727–733.

10. Manoel ME, Harris-Love MO, Danoff JV, Miller TA. Acute effects of static, dynamic, and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation stretching on muscle power in women. J Strength Cond Res. Sep 2008;22(5):1528–1534.

11. Hough PA, Ross EZ, Howatson G. Effects of dynamic and static stretching on vertical jump performance and electromyographic activity. J Strength Cond Res. Mar 2009;23(2):507–512

12. “Warming up: the dynamic alternative to static stretching”. Peak Performance. Retrieved 2010-07-25.

13. Behm DG, Kibele A. Effects of differing intensities of static stretching on jump performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. Nov 2007;101(5):587–594.

14. Small K, Mc Naughton L, Matthews M. A systematic review into the efficacy of static stretching as part of a warm-up for the prevention of exercise-related injury. Res Sports Med. 2008;16(3):213–231.

Protein Powder and BCAAs

Protein powders and drinks are becoming more and more popular among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. We use them to help repair muscles after a workout, as a meal replacement to cut calories, they are so convenient, and to GET SWOLE, MAN. Not to mention, if you find the right protein supplement for you, the shakes can taste amazing.

Most protein powders are made from milk proteins, which makes them NOT PALEO. However, most of the “bad stuff” in dairy is removed and all that is left is dry whey or casein. If you’re not allergic, go for it. However, if you are trying a Whole30, I recommend avoiding all protein powders, even those considered paleo as it is technially a processed food. This is the protein powder that I use since it is gluten-free and is the best tasting delicious protein magic ever. http://www.gnc.com/product/index.jsp?productId=13002299. If you don’t like the taste of your selected protein, you will not look forward to it, and eventually stop using it. Trust me, my apartment is full of half empty tubs of nasty-tasting protein.

 protein

I either use this as a supplement right after a workout, or, more often, blend it with almond milk and a banana for breakfast as an on-the-go meal replacement.

There is a small amount of evidence suggesting that low-glycemic meals like protein shakes can aid in weight loss, but the evidence is not complete as this is an observational study (1). There have not been sufficient studies to fully demonstrate that protein shakes after a workout help to quickly heal the micro-tears in the muscles (micro-tears are small tears in the muscle from a strenuous workout), but the entire sport of body building seems to believe that it really helps.

I can’t say personally that I’ve noticed a recovery difference since consuming proteins shakes. However, something that really does aid in my personal workout recovery is BCAA supplements. BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) are certainly present in protein powder. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are approximately 500 amino acids that have been defined, but only 22 of them are considered standard, and only 20 are naturally occurring in consumable protein.  All amino acids have side chain groups. Branched-chain amino acids are exactly as the name suggests. They have side chains with branches in them. BCAAs include leucine, isoleucine, and valine (2). In the following picture, the green represents the side chain of the amino acids. The branch is where you see one green carbon attached to three other carbons. In other amino acids, the green carbons would only be attached to two other carbons. Hence, the branch.

BCAA orgo

BCAAs are considered essential amino acids because the human body cannot make them itself (3).  Because BCAAs can be easily converted into toxic products, the body will use what it needs and dispose of the rest quickly. Obviously, we don’t want toxins building up inside of us, but this means the body will not store BCAAs. They need to be consumed regularly. It is entirely possible for the body to extract BCAAs from regular food proteins, but they are more available in protein powders, and even more available in capsule supplements. The difference between other amino acids and BCAAs is that BCAAs are oxidized in the skeletal muscle and promote near instant healing, while other amino acids are metabolized in the liver (4). Some evidence also suggests that BCAAs not only promote healing but contribute to additional energy sources during exercise (4).  Leucine especially, promotes protein-muscle synthesis (5). BCAA supplementation may be beneficial before and after a workout. Evidence shows that consumption before a workout can prevent muscle damage and increase energy, while supplementation after a workout healed muscle damage and reduced muscle soreness (6-8).

That is the reason I supplement with BCAA capsules. I don’t want soreness deterring me from working out again the next day. According to the research, BCAAs have basically been proven to work in humans. Some of the studies were observational, but others were hard science. I don’t think that protein shakes will be as beneficial to muscle healing after a workout, but I do think they are a great low-glycemic meal replacement. I would imagine that all protein powders have added BCAAs to their formulas, but the research suggests that a capsule is a more effective dosing strategy. I could be totally wrong about the benefits of protein shakes, but there isn’t a lot of science to support their necessity. There is science to support a regimen of BCAA supplementation if you are very physically active, and I have noticed the decreased soreness myself.

1. Balliett MRasmussen OBurke JR.  Effects of tea combined with high-protein meal replacement shakes on anthropometric measurements, lipid profiles, cellular biochemistry, neurochemistry, and microbial metabolism: a prospective observational study. J Chiropr Med. 2011 Dec;10(4):272-82.

2. Sowers, Strakie. “A Primer On Branched Chain Amino Acids”. Huntington College of Health Sciences. Retrieved 22 March 2011.

3. “Exercise Promotes BCAA Catabolism: Effects of BCAA Supplementation on Skeletal Muscle during Exercise”J. Nutr. 134 (6): 1583S–1587S. 2004. Retrieved 22 March 2011.

4. Rennie, M. J. (1996) Influence of exercise on protein and amino acid metabolism. In: Handbook of Physiology, Sect. 12: Exercise: Regulation and Integration of Multiple Systems (Rowell, L. B. & Shepherd, J. T., eds.), chapter 22, pp. 995–1035. American Physiological Society, Bethesda, MD

5. Kimball, S. R., Farrell, P. A. & Jefferson, L. S. (2002) Exercise effects on insulin signaling and action. Invited Review: role of insulin in translational control of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle by amino acids or exercise. J. Appl. Physiol. 93: 1168–1180

6. MacLean, D. A., Graham, T. E. & Saltin, B. (1994) Branched-chain amino acids augment ammonia metabolism while attenuating protein breakdown during exercise. Am. J. Physiol. 267: E1010–E1022.

7. Coombes, J. S. & McNaughton, L. R. (2000) Effects of branched-chain amino acid supplementation on serum creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase after prolonged exercise. J. Sports Med. Phys. Fitness 40: 240–246

8. Nosaka, K. (2003) Muscle soreness and amino acids. Training J. 289:24–28.