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BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS

We’ve talked previously about the details of core ingredients in the Bikefood mix, primarily the energy source and the lengths we went to with regard to understanding the importance of specification.

Whilst we do our best to communicate the benefits of using Bikefood, we are continually amazed at how poorly we do this as fundamental benefits of the Bikefood energy drink do not seem to be understood by the riders using it – they do however understand that in their riding and use of the product it certainly works. Not only does it work, it works better for them than any other similar product and therefore they continue to be enthusiastic Bikefood customers, fueling their rides with our energy drink.

So what makes the Bikefood drink special? you may ask…

Prior to creating the Bikefood drink we as riders used to use products born from the World of bodybuilding. Its true, and not something we are ashamed of in the slightest. This does not mean that the people behind Bikefood like to ride in glittering posing thongs, or have ‘wonder tan’ (not the official name…) smeared all over our white bar tape. No.

We used products from this strange world as at the time they were more advanced than the offerings in the endurance world. Simple as that. We wanted to use the best sports nutrition available and that quite simply was not found with the products promoted to cyclists at that time.

Branched Chain Amino Acids or BCAAs are a good example of this. Bodybuilders are somewhat predisposed to an interest in muscle. Possibly obsessed with it. As such they spend a lot of time trying to build it, preserve it and along with this comes heavy use of protein supplements and shakes, and in particular regular and substantial consumption of whey protein. In addition to the the staple of whey protein in order to build muscle, there is supplementation from other sports nutrition products, a quality protein rich diet and for the extreme cases additional topping up of a less acceptable nature…

So BCAAs are to do with muscle building, and they therefore help aid recovery and muscle repair. We took the three most important Branched Chain Amino Acids and put these into our Bikefood energy drink, in particular Leucine. From day one they were in the formula. Not only that, they are not there for show – they are included in meaningful amounts, so that when you use our energy drink as instructed over long rides you consume these key ingredients in sufficient volume to really make a difference. And of course the more you ride the benefits increase proportionally.

It’s the Branched Chain Amino Acids in our Bikefood energy drink that make it suitable to be mixed to a more concentrated solution for post ride recovery.

So there you have the background on Branched Chain Amino Acids, the whole story.
Or is it?

Let’s take this back a few steps.

After explaining the above, what you might still be surprised to learn it that Bikefood Energy Drink mix contains protein.
Well kind of…

Now in terms of looking at the product label, you’ll see that there is 8.4g of protein listed for every 100g of Bikefood.
What became apparent is that there is an understanding that there are a few drinks available that serious cyclists look for, on the basis that they contain protein and we have not been effectively communicating that Bikefood is one of them. Branched Chain Amino Acids = the building blocks of protein.

Strictly speaking, that 8.4g of protein is not protein at all – its made up of the Glutamine and BCAAs we’ve just been looking at. These ingredients are the main reason you’d want to have whey protein added into your energy drink, but look beyond the protein values to get the full story.

Lets say for arguments sake you replaced this 8.4g with 8.4g of the highest quality whey protein, you’d get a similar result right? Wrong.

With whey protein having roughly 20% branched chain amino acids, you are getting in the region of 5 times the amount of the good stuff by choosing Bikefood rather than going for an energy drink that has its protein content added for the very same reasons, however with a far lower BCAA content (around 20%) obviously delivering less in the long run.

Now the choice of energy drinks is vast. Exclude the fizzy pop and focus on proper sports nutrition products and the choice is still large. Look for energy drinks that contain protein and your choices are reduced, but there is still choice – and that is enough for most cyclists.

For cyclists looking for more, the finer details – the very best… keep going.

From your choices, add in the requirements of either (or both of the following):

A) No artificial sweetener, in particular NO Aspartame
B) Dairy free, or Vegan requirement

Now the choices are sparse.
Why?

Many of the sports nutrition energy drinks that contain protein provide their protein by the inclusion of whey protein. As we’ve already outlined whey protein is popular with strength athletes and a staple of bodybuilders. It’s naturally rich in BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) and also easily to hand with producers of nutrition products.
Whey protein is however derived from the cheese making process and its therefore from a dairy source. Not vegan. Not dairy free.

The other issue, is that whilst there are many foods that contain BCAAs naturally, it’s not in sufficient amounts to make a difference. Yes there are studies showing the benefits of supplementation with BCAAs, but when you look at the markers for where these benefits start to kick in – you have to meet specific numbers in order to even get close.
What you find is whilst the benefit is there to be gained with most products, you are simply not getting enough of the ingredient to have an effect. Surprisingly you’ll see this in commercial products too.

One of our consultants, an out and out expert in the field of all the above noted in a recent editorial piece about BCAAs in foods that ‘yes all those foods have branch chain amino acids in them, but at a level where they will be doing bugger all’. It’s a quote that is easy to understand and we in particular like the clarity it gives, when you hear it from people who are by default sticklers of accuracy and measurement.

Just as we looked in detail of the specification of the core carbohydrate mix in order for it function at its best, we also looked at the additional ingredients and how they support this formula. Its not the case that the carbohydrate source is doing one job, and the BCAAs/protein ingredients are providing another separate function. These elements work together. The Branched Chain Amino Acids play their part in improving the uptake of carbohydrates, helping to make the drink function as intended.

So if you are looking for an energy drink that contains proteins in sufficient quantity to make a difference, is free from artificial sweeteners and still tastes great whilst also being dairy free – we strongly urge you to try Bikefood. It may not be the only option available to you but we are convinced it’s likely to be the best.