What’s All The Fuss About BCAA’s?
Your quick need-to-know guide on the supplement everyone is talking about
BCAA’s seem to be near the top of everyone’s fitness basket, but what exactly are they and do you need them?
What are BCAA’s?
BCAA stands for Branched chain amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. With exercise, your body needs to repair and grow muscle tissue and amino acids are essential to this process. In total there are 20 amino acids, and 9 of these aren’t produced naturally by the body so we get them from food, or in this case, supplements.
The three most important BCAAs in relation to muscle building and repair are Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine; the three main ingredients in most amino supplements. You will often find these in a 2:1:1 ratio as Leucine is the key ingredient for stimulating muscle repair.
What Are The Benefits?
When trying to build muscle, improve athletic performance or just recover from exercise the body needs amino acids to stimulate protein synthesis. A high protein diet from mixed sources will usually contain enough BCAA’s to do this but oftentimes it’s not possible or optimal for an individual to do this. Supplementing with BCAAs ensures you are creating an anabolic (muscle building/repairing) environment to aid your recovery.
Key Benefit #1 - Building Muscle
Muscle building round 3g Leucine will trigger muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and signal to your body to start building muscle tissue. And this isn’t just for bodybuilders; athletes and individuals trying to lose weight will benefit here too. Maintaining muscle mass is great for staying lean and performing well.
Key Benefit #2 - Reduced DOMS
Studies have shown that drinking BCAA’s before, during or after your workout can significantly reduce Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness in the days following intense exercise. A study published in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that a group taking BCAAs showed significantly less DOMS than a placebo group following bouts of strenuous exercise.
Key Benefit #3 - Help Fight Fatigue
Amino acids can be used as a source of energy during dieting. They have also been shown to reduce mental fatigue and improve focus during workouts, giving you more energy and drive.
Should You Take Them?
If you are an athlete looking to improve performance and strength, or trying to lose weight and maintain your muscle, staying anabolic is essential. For this reason and all the others stated above BCAAs are an excellent addition to your diet due to their anti-catabolic properties and convenience.
Taking 5-10g of BCAAs before, during or after exercise will help you to reach your fitness goals, and you can take up to 20g daily. You can also sip them throughout the day to aid your recovery.