If you have an avid interest in bodybuilding or nutrition you’ve probably heard a lot of buzz around “BCAA’s.”
For those who haven’t, Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) are the three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. BCAA supplements are usually taken to assist with muscle development and workout performance. They’ve also been proven to aid with weight loss and recovery post exercise. In this article we take a step into the world of BCAA’s, discussing who should take them, and how they can benefit your performance both inside and outside of the gym.
What Are BCAA’s And How Do They Work?
As mentioned earlier BCAA’s are the three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. These three amino acids are the only aminos to have a “branched” molecule structure. Hence the name Branched Chain Amino Acids.
Why are BCAA’s considered essential?
The main reason is your body does not produce them, as opposed to non-essential amino acids which can be produced naturally. This is also why it’s highly beneficial for you to get BCAA’s through supplementation. Unlike other amino acids, BCAA’s are broken down in your muscles instead of the liver. This means they can give you energy in quick time while you workout. Of the three BCAA’s, Leucine is the one that gives your body the ability to build muscle proteins. On the other hand, isoleucine and valine are more effective in replenishing your energy stores and regulating blood sugar levels.
Want To Workout For Longer And Recover Faster?
Once ingested, BCAA’s are sent straight to your muscles. This is different to other amino acids, which have to battle with the liver and other obstacles first. This unique effect can help benefit your strength training in the gym. BCAA’s give you more fuel during your workout, helping to lift your performance. After your workout they also help with recovery and repairs. The harder you work in the gym, the more BCAA’s kick in and help you push through.
Although they may not give you the same level of boost as pre workout supplements, many users also claim taking BCAA’s beforehand helps their workouts feel easier and more manageable.
Increase Your Size And Strength with BCAA's
BCAA’s have become popular among bodybuilders because of their numerous muscle building and strength benefits. According to research, BCAA’s (particularly Leucine) increase muscle development by stimulating protein synthesis. This process is what helps your muscles recover faster and grow stronger. Research has also shown taking amino acids can lower your levels of cortisol during exercise. This is important as high levels of cortisol often leads to muscle mass breakdown, which can have a negative effect on your development and recovery. By reducing muscle breakdown, BCAA’s automatically help you recover faster and feel less pain post workout.
How To Supplement With BCAA’s Based On Your Goals
In general the most important time to take BCAA’s is around workout times. If you’re wanting to build muscle mass it’s also a good idea to take aminos when you first wake up. This will help to stop the muscle breakdown that happens when your body enters a fasted state (when you’re sleeping). If you often struggle to reach your daily protein requirements, taking BCAA’s can also be beneficial. Even if you’re someone who doesn’t want to worry about timing at all. It’s easy enough to simply add BCAA’s to your water bottle a couple of times a day.