In the world of fitness and athletics, there are many supplements available to help with performance, endurance, muscle gain, fat loss and more. In that mix are BCAAs, something you just might want to start taking, or double down on, if you already are.
1. BCAAs Provide Energy and Preserve Muscle Mass
BCAAs stands for branch chain amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, which is what your muscles are made up of. Your body draws on BCAAs for energy and preserving muscle mass, which means more fitness gains faster.
If you exercise and don’t have enough, your body will break down muscle mass for energy. Supplementing with BCAAs creates a nutrient-rich environment shown to help prevent muscle loss and provide ample energy to maximize your workout.
2. Eating Your BCAAs
Your body doesn’t actually produce BCAAs like it does hormones and other essential health components; you have to get them from your diet. The good thing is that you can find them in a wide variety of foods in varying amounts. The foods with the most in every bite are:
- Lean meats
Other Good Sources inclued:
- Whey protein
- Whole wheat
- Brown rice
- Pumpkin Seeds
3. Reduce Sugar Cravings
BCAAs have been shown to reduce sugar cravings by helping level out blood sugar levels. They help prevent blood sugar levels from dropping. This is super helpful for figure competitors on a really strict, lower-calorie diet.
Since BCAAs help with blood sugar levels, this translates to more energy for your muscles. You can work out longer and harder, which means more fat burn while holding on to precious muscle mass.
4. Repair and Build Muscle
Muscle soreness--as you know--comes from strenuous exercise. Having to work through the pain to keep chasing those gains isn’t fun. But you can beat the pain and have your workout, too, by sustaining healthy BCAA levels.
These amino acids encourage your body to repair and build muscle. Since exercise creates microtears in muscle fibers (you feel this in the form of sore muscles), BCAAs help encourage and speed up the repair process.
5. Increase Growth Hormone Levels
On top of that BCAAs have been shown to increase growth hormones and maintain healthy cortisol and testosterone levels, both hugely important in muscle growth.
One study on swimmers showed that the group who supplemented with BCAAs significantly enhanced their HGH levels compared to the placebo group.
6. Prevent Muscle Loss, Even on Rest Days
Leucine is the most important of the three BCAAs for initiating muscle protein synthesis, which is necessary for muscle building. By providing supplemental BCAAs, the body is less likely to consume its own amino acid (protein) stores.
7. Reduce Exercise Induced Muscle Soreness and Damage
BCAA administration prior to and following exercise may reduce the severity and duration of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). Studies have shown that BCAA intake reduces muscle damage in response to both resistance and endurance exercises.
8. Immune System Boost
Intense, high volume training repeated over days and weeks can lead to fatigue, immune suppression, and overtraining if an athlete does not recover adequately in between.
Researchers have found that BCAAs can also be used by immune cells within the gut as a fuel source, which allows the immune system to regenerate itself more efficiently and protect against harmful pathogens.
9. Easy to Supplement With
BCAA supplements are available in powder and capsule form. Due to their fast-absorbing nature, they are best suited as a pre-workout supplement. Make sure the product you take comes in a 2:1:1 ratio in favor of leucine. Leucine excels as promoting muscle growth while stopping muscle loss.
More Helpful Information
Are BCAAs Vegan Friendly?
The majority of BCAA supplements are extracted from duck feathers, pig skin, and even human cadavers, so make sure when you're purchasing BCAAs that they say on the package they’re plant based and vegan friendly!
Are capsules or powders better?
Both versions have been shown to reach the bloodstream quickly, so it boils down to personal preference.
How long before a workout should I take BCAAs?
So far studies show that taking BCAAs 30 minutes before your workout is best.
How much do I need for my body size?
Studies show that taking 91mg per pound is the most effective. For example, if you weigh 150lbs, then you should take 13,650mg (13.65g) of BCAAs a day.
How long before I start seeing results?
This nutrient mix plays the long game. It’s not an instant fix. Still, you can start seeing results in about two weeks.