Disclaimer: I received Now Foods BCAA Big 6 - Grape and Watermelon flavor sports supplement and a NOW Sports shaker bottle to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
If you read the disclaimer above, you’ll know that I received Now Foods BCAA Big 6 grape and watermelon flavored sports supplements at no cost to try out and review. As a newer BibRave Pro, I’m still feeling out what opportunities and responsibilities come along with it. Although I’m not a regular user of almost any sports supplements, when this opportunity presented itself it seemed like a perfect time to incorporate the use of a sports supplement into my workout routine with no financial risk. Prior to this trial, the only sports supplement I’ve ever used regularly is a whey protein powder which I typically use in a recovery shake after running maybe 2-3 times a week. So that may beg the question of why should anyone listen to what someone who doesn’t use sports supplements have to say about their first time trial using a sports supplement. And I would answer that because I am not a sports supplement user I can report on how using Now Foods BCAA Big 6 sports supplement during training compared to my training and racing without the use of any sports supplements. Because I am a sample size of one, whatever I report will not prove or disprove anything. This is simply a report of my experience using Now Foods BCAA Big 6 sports supplement.
So what are BCAAs? Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) are essential amino acids that serve as the building blocks of protein, which helps to fuel your muscles during a workout and can also help support muscle recovery post-workout. They’re called essential because the body doesn’t make them on its own, so you need to supplement or get them from your diet. Since I have never supplemented with BCAAs in the past, I can only assume that I’ve been getting all the BCAAs required to fuel my training runs from my diet.
I began incorporating Now Foods BCAA Big 6 sports supplement in hopes that my training runs would improve or that I would at a minimum feel like recovery time was reduced. Up until writing this post I had not done any extensive research, but the information I had seen about the benefits of using BCAA supplements for endurance sports was not extremely convincing. Mittleman et al. (1998) reported prolonged exercise performance in test subjects receiving a BCAA supplement when subjected to heat compared to subjects receiving a placebo treatment. The cycle time to exhaustion increased for both men and women test subjects that received the BCAA treatment. Bloomstrand et al. (1991) reported improved mental acuity after a 30 km race of test subjects receiving a BCAA treatment during the run compared to test subjects receiving a placebo treatment during the race. The same study also examined the effect of BCAA treatment on marathon times. Sub 3:05 marathon runners showed no significant effect with BCAA treatments. However, marathon performance was improved with the use of BCAA supplement for 3:05-3:30 marathon runners. Since I fall outside of the range of marathon runners included in the study, I hope the trend of improved performance continues for 3:30-4:00 marathon runners like myself.
With the few studies I looked at reporting improved running performance and/or endurance with the use of BCAA supplements, it raised my hopes for improved results with my own trials. I began using Now Foods BCAA Big 6 sports supplement in mid September and continued its use for a little over a month until the last week of October. During this period I trained for and ran two races: The Squatchung Surprise 6 Hour and The Mines of Spain 100 miler. For those two races I finished first overall and second overall respectively. I’m not crediting the use of Now Foods BCAA Big 6 sports supplement for my performance at those two events, but it certainly didn’t hinder my performance either given the results. Having less than two months of experience using Now Foods BCAA Big 6 sports supplement, it is hard to come to any substantial conclusions. I performed well and felt good while using the supplements, but it’s impossible to say that I wouldn’t have felt and done just as well without the use of the supplements. Even without any definitive results to show, I plan to use Now Foods BCAA Big 6 sports supplement early next year when I’m training for and hoping to achieve a PR at the Novo Nordisk NJ Marathon.
|A photo from the six hour event.
Why NOW® Sports? Well, I felt safe using their products. It’s a clean, highly-tested brand. They conduct more than 16,000 tests each month for identity, purity, strength and composition to ensure that what’s on the label is in the bottle. AND, now they’re third-party certified via Informed-Sport for added product purity assurance. The Informed-Sport program certifies that their products have been tested for more than 200 banned substances by their world-class sports anti-doping lab.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Bloomstrand, E., P. Hassmén, B. Ekblom, and E.A. Newsholme. 1991. Administration of branched chain amino acids during sustained exercise — effects on performance and on plasma concentration of some amino acids. European Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology 63(2): 83–88.
Mittleman, K.D., M.R. Ricci, and S.P. Bailey. 1998. Branched-chain amino acids prolong exercise during heat stress in men and women. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 30(1): 83-91.