Plant-Based Protein with BCAAs
Credit: Brian Balster / Getty Images

Quick nutrition refresher: Carbohydrates are your muscle's first choice for fuel when working out at a high intensity. While your body can burn protein and fat for energy, it will do this only after carbs have been depleted, or during less intense endurance workouts. Protein, on the other hand, plays the key role in repairing and rebuilding muscle. Thus, after a workout, drinking an easily digestible, plant-based protein shake will help repair and strengthen – and increase the size of – your shredded muscles. You'll also  recover faster, which means you're able to train again sooner. That's a good thing: More training in less time means reaching your goal faster.

BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids) are made up of leucine, isoleucine, and valine, three of the essential nine amino acids. They play an integral role in muscle growth, hemoglobin formation, maintenance of energy levels, and protein metabolism. And since they are metabolized in the muscles, BCAAs have an anabolic affect and help prevent muscle tissue loss during times of aerobic training. For this reason, it's common practice among elite endurance athletes to take them during mileage buildup to prevent their body from eating into its own muscle in search of fuel.