by Will Grumke August 24, 2020 5 min read
With an unlimited amount of products and supplements out there, it's hard to know what is going to work for you and make a difference in your workout.
BCAAs are three essential amino acids that may help you fight through your workout, cut down on soreness, and possibly even speed up recovery time.
BCAA stands for branched-chain amino acid. To avoid confusion, let’s begin with the basics.
What are amino acids? Amino acids are responsible for maintaining and regulating almost every cellular activity in your body. From organ function, disease resistance, cognitive performance, digestion, metabolism, and muscle growth and repair.
There are 20 of these specific amino acids and your body produces 11 of them naturally. The other 9 are called essential amino acids.
You must get these essential amino acids from food or supplements. The most important of these 9 missing amino acids are the BCAAs.
BCAAs are composed of the amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Together, they make up approximately 40% of all daily requirements of essential amino acids.
First, I want you to know WHERE we get BCAAs from. These amino acids are found in foods. More specifically, they are found in protein sources, as well as some plant sources that we would recommend focusing on.
Consuming enough of these amino acids is key to get their benefits as well. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are responsible for activating muscle protein synthesis, which is the process of building muscle.
Muscle tissue you have broken down through exercising needs these BCAAs to repair and recover.
What are some of the possible benefits of BCAA supplements?
- Reduce soreness and increase muscle strength
- Improve muscle gain
- Aid in fat loss
- Improve Endurance
Research shows that supplementing with BCAAs can significantly decrease soreness. They can also help to improve someone's ability to weight train.
These same studies showed, in the participants that took BCAAs, reduced muscle damage, less fatigue, and better ability to maintain strength and performance through workouts.
A healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and exercise are exactly what we should be focusing on to stay fit. However, some diets can restrict calories and may lead to a loss of muscle mass and lean tissue.
That’s because, when you are low on calories and protein intake, your body is searching for it by any means necessary. Even if it has to break down muscle tissue to get it.
Research has shown that individuals who are not consuming enough protein, but add in a BCAA supplement, can increase or prevent the loss of muscle mass.
They also are necessary when you’re injured or fighting off sickness. Consuming enough BCAAs through diet or supplements can help with the repair and health of your body.
Even If you aren’t working out with weights regularly, you should still make sure you get enough BCAAs daily. This can make sure we are maintaining lean muscle and burning more calories, while being healthier overall.
While getting in your daily need for amino acids can help build muscle, it has also been shown to help in overall decreased body fat, and prevent the storing of fat as energy.
The National Institute of Sports analyzed the effects of BCAAs while participants restricted their diet. The study focused on college wrestlers who were trying to drop weight to meet their weight class.
By measuring skin folds and taking body cross-section MRI scans, researchers found when wrestlers supplemented their diets with BCAA, they not only maintained their muscle mass, butlost overall body fat and visceral fat,while maintaining performance during exercises over those who had not.
As you exercise, your muscle starts to use the amino acids in your blood. As those levels decrease, the levels of tryptophan in your brain increase.
During exercise, the tryptophan that is absorbed by the brain triggers the release of serotonin, which causes fatigue.
BCAAs can prevent the brain from absorbing tryptophan, decreasing the levels of tryptophan in the brain.
Those who took BCAA supplements reported feeling less tired, and were able to exercise longer than those who had not taken the supplement.
Nutrition is the best way to get your BCAA’s. Foods that are high in BCAAs are foods that are higher in protein. Consider foods such as:
In all the cases discussed above, the test subjects were given supplements, not food.
The BCAA supplements showed an improvement in recovery, muscle soreness, and fat loss.
A balanced and nutritious diet is essential to healthy living, but taking a supplement ensures you get the correct amount of amino acids you need, regardless of how your day goes.
Meal planning takes time and energy, and some days are better than others. If you always have the BCAAs you need on hand, then you will never miss out on your much-needed nutrients.
It’s that simple.
Everyone needs a proper intake of BCAAs daily, but not everyone needs to take a BCAA supplement. If you are deficient in amino acids from your diet, we would always recommend increasing protein intake from whole food or protein supplements first.
If you are someone who is working out hard, on a calorie restricted plan, or wants to improve recovery and performance, then beyond getting enough protein in your diet, I would definitely feel confident that a BCAA supplement can help you.
BCAA supplements can be taken before or during your workout.. You can also take them multiple times a day depending on the dosage and the serving size.
My recommendation is to take them 15-30 minutes before or while you are working out. Either option is going to give you the benefits of the BCAAs.
BCAAs can help you work out harder and longer.
Once you have your daily protein levels where they should be, adding in a BCAA supplement may be the next step.
The benefits of lowering soreness, decreasing recovery time, increasing muscle mass, and decreasing fat, make BCAAs a great option for any athlete, or someone trying to improve their overall body composition.
Our patented formula will give you the right dose of the right ingredients to get you working at your full potential.
Will Grumke is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Nutrition Coach, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Certified Behavioral Change Specialist, and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer.