Take a look at yourself and reassess your fitness goals for a minute. Obviously, you are a fitness fanatic and that is the reason why you are reading articles like this. Maybe you’re just starting out on your fitness journey and you’re looking for supplements that will make this transition into a healthier lifestyle easier and more effective. Perhaps, you’re already a fitness freak and you want to be able to take your fitness to the next level. Maybe you do fitness competitively and you want to be able to make sure that you are constantly taking every competitive advantage that you can get.
How Can BCAA Help Fuel Your Workout?
Whatever the case, it’s always a good idea to look into the kinds of supplements that can help you achieve optimal performance while you’re both in and out of the gym. And if you have already done your fair share of research, it’s likely that you’ve come across the term BCAA or Branched-Chain Amino Acids.
But what exactly are BCAA’s and how can they help you with your workouts?
What are BCAA’s?
BCAA’s are also known as branched-chain amino acids. This compound is usually composed of the three essential amino acids: valine, leucine, and isoleucine – all of which take on a branched chemical structure. Hence, the name.
Usually, BCAA supplements can come in the form of powders or capsules that you take at least once on days that you work out. Most major BCAA brands supply twice the amount of leucine in a single dose as compared to valine and isoleucine forming a 2:1:1 ratio of acids. This is mostly because leucine is primarily responsible at stimulating protein synthesis and it helps in suppressing the breakdown of muscle proteins.
BCAA’s can be found in most foods that are rich in proteins and amino acids. However, BCAA supplements offer a portable and convenient options for nutrient intake.
How do BCAA’s help you in your fitness goals?
BCAA’s Help Stimulate Muscle Growth
The leucine that is found in BCAA supplements activate a certain pathway within the body that helps stimulate muscle protein synthesis. In short, it strengthens the muscle-making process.
Studies have shown that people who drink 5.6g of BCAA’s after a strenuous resistance workout were shown to have 22% greater increase in muscle protein synthesis as compared to those who took in placebo drinks.
BCAA’s Help Prevent Muscle Soreness
There is substantial research that suggests that BCAA’s can actually aid in decreasing a person’s level of muscle soreness following the workout – or DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).
It really isn’t all that rare to feel sore after an intense and difficult workout. In fact, muscle soreness is often a sign of an effective fitness program that is continually stimulating and challenging the muscles to grow and become stronger. However, DOMS can leave a person feeling weak after an intense workout which could prevent them from going harder the next time they are at the gym or running at the track.
Scientists say that DOMS are caused by tiny muscle tears that occur during an intense workout session. And BCAA’s have actually shown to limit the effects of muscle damage which can lessen the discomfort that is felt after a hard workout.
One study in particular showed that people who supplemented heavy squat exercises with BCAA’s experienced significantly less DOMS and muscle fatigue as compared to the placebo group.
It’s safe to say that supplementing intense exercise with BCAA’s can help speed up recovery time.
BCAA’s Help Reduce Exercise Fatigue
Stamina is something that all fitness buffs are always going to want to take into consideration when reassessing their overall fitness levels. An athlete can only perform so well as long as their body allows them to continue going on with their hard workouts. An athlete without stamina won’t be able to sustain difficult workout regimens for prolonged periods.
And BCAA’s have actually exhibited some signs of aiding in exercise fatigue. As you engage in rigorous exercise, your body uses up BCAA’s, thereby causing the levels in your blood to decrease. And when there is less BCAA’s in the blood, the levels of an essential amino acid called tryptophan in your brain can increase. And that acid is converted into serotonin – a brain chemical that is believed to contribute to the development of fatigue during exercise.
BCAA’s Help Prevent Muscle Breakdown or Catabolism
Most athletes and fitness buffs (or even average joes) would be familiar with the concept of metabolism. Essentially, it’s the body’s continuous breakdown of fat throughout the day. As a person goes through everyday life, they require energy to perform certain tasks. In order to produce energy for these tasks, the human body burns up its fat reserves and converts it into calories for energy. This process is called metabolism – the breakdown of body fat. And usually, when a person engages in a caloric deficit – the act of taking in less calories than they are burning throughout the day – a person actually loses weight.
However, there is also such a thing that is called catabolism. Sometimes, a person can be burning too many calories within a specified period of time that it not only eats away at fat reserves, but muscle reserves as well. As a result, people can have smaller and weaker muscles as a result of not eating enough calories.
This is a problem for most people who are trying to lose weight but want to maintain muscle mass and strength.
Studies have shown that BCAA’s can actually help prevent catabolism even when people are going through some serious caloric deficits in an effort to burn more fat and lose weight.
How much BCAA do you need and when do you need it?
Research has shown that in order to maximize the effects of BCAA’s in battling fatigue, muscle soreness, and catabolism, it’s best to take 7 grams of BCAA’s around 30 minutes before a workout.