This one has suddenly been cropping up... Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs).
"BCAA's have a great deal of thorough and conclusive research surrounding them."
"Double your fat loss, double your muscle gain and double your strength..."
"...aid in an optimal muscle protein synthesis and recovery."
"BCAA, unlike other amino acids, are used to provide energy."
Obviously, as an endurance athlete, that's a supplement I must need. But let's just say it's Christmas day and all the shops are closed. I'm about to go for my long run. Where on earth will I find my essential amino acids?? What will I do?
Oh, I know. I can eat any source of protein.
Chicken, red meat, tofu, eggs, tuna, yoghurt, beans, lentils, almonds, soy milk, cheese.
I can even get fancy and have whey protein or chocolate milk ;)
Amino acids are simply the building blocks of protein. There are 20 of them. 12 can be made in the body from other things. 8 must come from our diet, including the 3 "branched chain" ones.
So, when you hear about how BCAAs are essential for endurance athletes, it's true. It's true for all people, actually, because they're essential to life. So is carbohydrate, fat, and water. You can fill your hydration bladder from the tap or you can buy Perrier. You can eat a healthy diet rich in legumes, low fat cheese, lean meat, and ocean fish or you can buy "SuperPlusMaxBCAA" at your supplement shop.
Just be sure to have 15 grams of your choice within 30 minutes of your long run :)
Food is fuel. As I read elsewhere today, "Food is an investment, not a cost." We can't outrun a bad diet and we can't out-buy a bad diet.
For an irreverent article (mini-book in pdf format) on calorie counting and general nutrition, see the recent link on the bottom of the page here http://bernadettebenson.com/nutrition.htm