Do older muscles need BCAA supplementation?

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Do older muscles need BCAA supplementation?

Do our muscles have to weaken significantly as we age? Absolutely not! One way to avoid this is with BCAA supplementation. What are these active ingredients?

Weakening of the muscles at mature age

The gradual loss of musculature can lead to an increased susceptibility to injury, reduced mobility and muscle weakness. This is a completely natural process that occurs in everyone and is caused by many different factors. Contrary to what may seem, this is not the case with older people. The aforementioned changes start on average around the age of 40 and gradually intensify. Every adult should pay special attention to it and take care of proper prevention.

What is protein balance?

In elderly people we have to deal with various changes in protein synthesis in the body, as well as processes connected with their breakdown. However, as research shows, muscle loss largely depends on diet and physical activity. Therefore, seniors should take care of a proper diet and regular physical activity. The best solution in their case will be appropriately composed strength training and a menu rich in complete protein containing essential amino acids.

It is worth mentioning here the results of a study presented in “The Journal of Nutrition”. They show that seniors – unlike younger people – should take protein supplements. The best solution for them is to replace a meal with a protein supplement, rather than using it as a supplement. There is also a good chance that the ability to use protein in a classic diet decreases with age.

Supplements dedicated to seniors should therefore have a greater anabolic effect per unit of energy. The elderly need efficient amino compounds to maintain muscle protein balance and muscle mass. Of the proteins available on the market, rapidly absorbed products such as whey have a better anabolic effect than slowly absorbed products such as casein.

Senior muscles and BCAAs

The aforementioned studies also showed that seniors can still respond to amino acids, especially basic and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which strongly stimulate muscle protein synthesis. This effect is probably related to the direct influence of leucine – one of the three amino acids included in BCAAs. Continuous amino acid supplementation is able to effectively prevent and neutralise muscle loss.

Leucine and its key role

It is also worth mentioning here the results of a study conducted by scientists from McMaster University who tested the leucine intake of 20 men aged between 65 and 85. One part of them took the recommended dose of protein of 0.8 g per 1 kg of body weight per day, the rest – 1.2 g of protein per 1 kg of body weight per day. Each group took a placebo instead of leucine during the first 2 days of the study, and 5 g of leucine per meal during the last 3 days. Additionally, the men performed strength training throughout the tests. As the results showed, those taking leucine experienced an increase in protein synthesis in their muscles. The results were similar for the group taking more protein. Resistance training contributed to the increase in protein synthesis in all of the men studied.

Diet and physical activity

Researchers emphasise that it’s important to consume not just pure protein, but effective forms of it, such as BCAAs – branched-chain leucine amino acids. It is particularly worth recommending products in which there is a predominance of leucine, which is able to stimulate muscle protein synthesis to the greatest extent. Strength exercises also play a very important role in elderly people.

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