This site has limited support for your browser. We recommend switching to Edge, Chrome, Safari, or Firefox.
Congratulations! Your order qualifies for free shipping Just £55 away from free shipping | 100% money-back guarantee
Woman stretching in a CrossFit gym

BCAAs Reduce Muscle Damage, How Caffeine Affects Strength and Endurance, and Does Sodium Bicarbonate Actually Work??

Welcome to our weekly summary of the latest research from the world of sports nutrition.

In this week’s summary:


The Effects of Branched-chain Amino Acid Supplementation in High-intensity Training

Woman stretching in a CrossFit gym

This study examined the potential benefits of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) in protecting against muscle damage during high-intensity training, such as CrossFit. Employing a controlled, double-blind, randomized trial design, the research focused on a participant performing the CrossFit Karen® test, which involves 150 wall ball throws. The participant was given supplements of BCAAs in two different ratios (8:1:1 and 2:1:1) and a placebo, each consumed daily for a week before the test. Results showed that the higher 8:1:1 ratio of BCAAs significantly helped in reducing muscle damage, indicated by lower levels of creatine kinase in the blood and a decreased perception of exertion, suggesting BCAAs could be effective in reducing symptoms like muscle soreness and mitigating risks such as rhabdomyolysis in athletes engaging in strenuous activities.

Our thoughts: The BCAA leucine is turned into HMB in the body. HMB is shown to reduce muscle damage in similar training modalities, as well as others. I would love to repeat this study while comparing an HMB product like our HMB Sport or HMB+ Creatine to the BCAAs and placebo. My bet is that the HMB group would benefit even more than the BCAA group.


The Effects of Acute Caffeine Ingestion on Muscle Strength and Endurance

Woman in a Blonyx tee shirt holding a cup of coffee

This meta-analysis investigated the impact of taking caffeine capsules shortly before exercise on muscle strength and endurance. By reviewing data from fourteen studies, researchers found that caffeine significantly enhances both muscle strength and endurance, particularly in males. The most beneficial effects were observed when caffeine was taken 45 minutes before exercise at a dosage of at least 6 mg/kg of body weight. The improvement was especially notable in lower body strength and moderate-intensity endurance activities. This suggests that caffeine can be a valuable supplement for those looking to boost their physical performance during workouts.

Our thoughts: The data on caffeine for strength and power sports is generally difficult to draw conclusions from. This new research suggests that purposeful dosing around training could be the key to unlocking its potential. Dosage is also relatively high across the studies at more than 6mg/kg of body weight—the equivalent of chugging two cups of coffee for the average person. 


Does Sodium Bicarbonate Actually Improve Performance, or Is It All in Your Head?

Cyclist riding through Stanley Park in Vancouver

This study examined how the expectations of recreational cyclists about the effects of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) influenced their high-intensity cycling performance. In a double-blind, crossover trial, fifteen cyclists were given either NaHCO3 or a placebo (dextrose), along with differing information suggesting the substance could enhance performance, be inert, or be harmful. Despite physiological changes consistent with improved performance, such as induced alkalosis, actual performance measures like cycling time to task failure and muscle fatigue indicators did not significantly differ based on the substance ingested. However, when participants believed they were consuming a performance-enhancing supplement, their performance improved, indicating that the positive effects of NaHCO3 might be largely due to a placebo effect. This suggests that the mental expectation of benefit can be as influential as the physiological effects of a supplement in enhancing athletic performance.

Our thoughts: Past data shows that sodium bicarbonate improves performance, but perhaps this is evidence that the placebo effect is simply stronger?


That’s all for this week. We hope you learned something new that you can incorporate into your training!


— Train hard!


Congratulations! Your order qualifies for free shipping Spend £55 for free shipping
No more products available for purchase