One way to minimize it is with large doses of branched-chain amino acids, according to a recent study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. This important study is one of the first to use a weeklong loading period in which participants took 20 grams of BCAAs and then took bolus doses of 20 grams immediately before and after a fast eccentric-training protocol. The exercise included 100 drop jumps with a maximum-effort rebound jump, which would normally produce significant muscle damage and lead to delayed-onset muscle soreness.
The results showed that compared to a placebo group, the BCAA subjects reported much less soreness and had lower biomarkers of inflammation, as measured by creatine kinase. Creatine kinase is measured to test muscle damage after hard training; elevated levels indicate damage to the sarcolemma of the muscle fiber, which cause enzymes to “leak” from the cell into the blood. Less creatine kinase indicates that the BCAAs helped maintain the integrity of cell membranes during training, leading to less damage and less muscle soreness.
The BCAA subjects recovered maximum strength faster than the placebo group, indicating enhanced protein synthesis to restore function. The findings suggest that supplementing adequately with BCAAs is more beneficial for recovery and performance than other popular methods, including cold-water immersion and taking nonsteroid anti-inflammatories.