We all want to perform better in training; who doesn’t want to lift bigger weights, run further distances and achieve higher scores?
For many progress focused athletes, peri-workout nutrition (nutrition surrounding your workouts) becomes paramount and the push to perfect these strategies becomes more perilous as the margins of success tighten.
A product that may be of potential benefit in the quest to unlock that last few percentile of untapped potential is a BCAA supplement.
BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) are three essential amino acids that benefit muscle growth, muscle recovery and possibly even performance.
The last decade has seen a wave of BCAA products hit the market however one stands above them all in their quality and delivery of results; Xtend’s BCAA.
A Look at the Xtend Brand
Previously known as Scivation, Xtend made the swap to their new name in 2018. Interestingly, the product itself was formerly known as Scivation Xtend BCAA so the name swap hasn’t meant much to the regular consumer. And oh boy, is there quite a few regular consumers… in fact, based on cumulative global sales of all XTEND® branded BCAA products from 2004 to present, they are the best-selling BCAA product worldwide.
Xtend are an industry leader in BCAA sales for two reasons;
They only focus on BCAA products
- Their product quality, testing and formulation leads their competitors
Leading their industry category for ten years, and winner of multiple Bodybuilding.com awards, the products are formulated with evidence-based clinical dosages within Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs) compliant facilities, which are GMP registered and undergo quality assurance daily inspections.
Notably Xtend’s BCAAs are also tested by third party companies too, such as Informed Choice and Informed Sport, ensuring they are suitable for drug tested athletes and that their label claims are virtually 100% accurate.
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Xtend BCAA In-depth Review
What about the product itself though? What exactly is in it? Does it meet it’s claims?
And who is it really going to help?
3500 mg of L-Leucine;
1750 mg of L-Isoleucine; and
1750 mg of L-Valine
BCAAs play an instrumental role in stimulating muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which is an essential process that allows the body to repair tissues and create new ones as part of recovery from training. Leucine is the main stimulatory amino acid of MPS and effectively “turns on” the new muscle protein “switch”.
The 3500mg serving of leucine falls right in line with the recommended “leucine threshold target” i.e. the amount of leucine to be consumed in one serving which would trigger MPS.
Isoleucine induces glucose uptake into cells. This is important as glucose is the primary source of energy during exercise and so ensuring that it is being shuttled into the cells when they need them will not only help sustain performance but could also contribute to enhanced glycogen (our stored carbohydrate within liver and muscle) replenishment after exercise.
Valine is needed for the synthesis of proteins. It is also used as an energy fuel source and has been implicated with helping concentration as BCAAs can cross the blood brain barrier. When you weight train, you break down muscle as a natural part of the bodybuilding process. Valine can help reduce that breakdown. It is important to note, though, that part of how your body builds bigger muscles is through the breaking down and then “adapting”. Therefore, you do not want to take an excessive amount of valine as it may interfere with this process.
L-glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the body and is implicated in benefitting a number of systems, the most prominent being our digestive and immune systems.
When it comes to exercise, l-glutamine doesn’t appear to offer much benefit in relation to muscle growth and hypertrophy. However, some research has reported that glutamine supplements may decrease muscle soreness and improve recovery after intense exercise. Additionally, l-glutamine supplementation may also reduce fatigue during exercise too!
Citrulline Malate is categorized as a vasodilator i.e. a product which relaxes the veins and allows for greater blood flow. The improvement in said blood flow may contribute to improvement in power output, a reduction in fatigue and improved endurance for both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. In theory, it may also improve recovery, however more work needs to be done here.
Adequate hydration is incredibly important with as little as 2% dehydration significantly impairing stamina, fatigue resistance, and performance (both physically and mentally).
Most assume that hydration simply revolves around how much fluid you take in. Whilst this is important, it’s not the only important consideration to make.
Electrolytes play a very important role in our hydration status. Electrolytes are minerals found within the body. They essentially work to transfer electric signals throughout the body, important for maintaining healthy functionality and regulate everything from your heartbeat to allowing muscles to contract for functional movement.
When we sweat, we not only lose fluid but we also lose electrolytes too. Having a source of electrolytes in around training can help mitigate these losses and sustain performance!
Vitamin B6 (as Pyridoxine HCl)
Vitamin B6 plays an important role in the production of fuel during exercise. It can also be of benefit for maintaining focus and concentration during exercise too. Some athletes with restrictive diets may be of risk of insufficient B6 intakes too, especially females who tend to have lower energy intakes overall.
Is it an Effective Supplement for Muscle Growth?
While the jury is still inconclusive on whether supplementing additional BCAAs may have a significant direct impact on muscle growth and hypertrophy (as many studies favor their provision however others have found no significant benefit), these benefits may occur organically.
If we are recovering better after exercise, we’re likely going to be performing better in the next session. Being able to push ourselves harder in the next session above and beyond what was achieved in the previous is one of the bases of muscular growth and hypertrophy; forcing our body to adapt to a new stimulus (be that increases in weight, increased muscle breakdown or increases in certain metabolites which may drive hypertrophy).
There may be multiple ways in which Xtend BCAAs can help you grow muscle and, ultimately, it’s more likely that you will see a significant gain in lean muscle mass when taking it than the alternative.
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Claimed Benefits of the Product
Xtend BCAAs claim to:
- Support Muscle Protein Synthesis
- Provide electrolyte balance
- “Fuel, repair and recover”
Having deep dived into the ingredient list, as well as having reassurance that what Xtend are claiming is actually in the supplement, we can assume that these claims will come to fruition.
The BCAA mix will be supportive of MPS, and the contributions of citrulline malate and l-glutamine will likely contribute here too.
The electrolyte mix, as well as the actual fluid which you’ll be drinking (as this is a powdered drink mix), will help achieve that electrolyte balance.
And, finally, when it comes to the product’s slogan “fuel, repair and recover”, once again we can link each and every ingredient into achieving this in some way. From the BCAAs to the B6, each component offers its own unique contribution.
We’d advise actually reading a few of the reviews on bodybuilding.com to get an additional unbiased, yet similarly favorable, review on whether these benefits will be met when using this product.
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Why should CrossFitters consider it?
Creatine phosphokinase (CPK) and lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) are commonly used in medical testing as indicators of muscle damage and tissue breakdown and these have appeared in quite high levels in crossfitters.
It has been found that BCAAs can actually reduce the levels of these biomarkers making Xtend a viable consideration for Crossfit athletes.
It has also been implicated that BCAAs may accelerate recovery time by reducing the amount of muscle damage which occurs; an important consideration for athletes who may be training multiple times a day.
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Flavor, taste and size
Xtend BCAAs are zero sugar, zero calories, and zero carbs whilst also being gluten free. They also come in an absolutely whopping 90 servings per tub! Great value for money!
Xtend BCAAs come in 15 awesome flavors; Mango Madness, Rainbow Sherbet, Blue Raspberry Ice, Glacial Grape, Freedom Ice, Watermelon Explosion, Italian Blood Orange, Lemon Lime Squeeze, Knockout Fruit Punch, Strawberry Kiwi Splash, Miami Ice, Black Cherry, Tropic Thunder, Smash Apple, and Pink Lemonade.
Having tried several of the flavors previously myself when working in the industry and I can certainly vouch for how tasty they are; I really enjoyed sipping on this during and after training in some ice-cold water!
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Xtend BCAAs are an industry leader for a reason; they established themselves as innovators early on and have continued that to the present day which now sees them being the most widely sold BCAA supplement on the market.
The quality of the product is second to none and it delivers on its claims and promises. We’re big fans of Xtend BCAAs and believe it’d really benefit any and all of our Crossfit audience as well as the endurance and team sports athletes amongst you too!
Trust us when we say, shake this up, throw in a few ice cubes and sip it slowly on the way to and from the gym; you can thank us after!