If you’ve been in the fitness scene for some time or have ever frequented a supplement shop, you may have heard of BCCAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids). What is this supplement, what does it do, and should you take them?
Read on to learn how BCAAs can help you make the most of your workouts and recovery.
What Are They?
BCCAs, branched chain amino acids, are two of the essential amino acids of the body—which are in turn the building blocks of protein. The tubs of BCAA powder you buy from supplement shops contains the essential amino acids isoleucine and valine, which make up about 35% of your body’s muscle protein. Essential amino acids are called such because the body cannot produce them on their own, so they only come from supplementation or the foods we eat.
At the most basic level, BCAAs provide fuel to our muscles and also increase protein synthesis while decreasing protein breakdown. AKA, more energy and more gains. But if you’re thinking BCAAs are only good for “meatheads” tying to build mass, think again, as they’ll actually come in handy if your primary goal is to lose weight or just recovery from a strenuous workout better, and with less soreness. This means that no matter your goals, BCAAs can give you that extra edge.
Benefits of BCAAs
The benefits of BCAAs are numerous, but all come into play during both your workout and the period following it. When we tax our bodes during a workout like an EMS or traditional weight lifting session, the muscles look to glycogen stores for their primary source of fuel. If there isn’t enough of this supply, such as if we’re not well fed or in a period of eating less calories or carbs, we may end up inevitably breaking down muscle to use as a backup fuel. Taking BCAAs keeps this supply replenished and means we have an always-abundant energy source, meaning you’ll feel extra invigorated and will be able to push yourself for those extra few minutes or reps of your workout.
The magic of BCAAs continue long after the workout ends though, when our bodies are creating new energy via protein synthesis. BCAAs can stimulate protein synthesis, while also putting the protein breakdown process on ice, meaning we are better able to preserve the muscle we have already built. Many report feeling far less sore than usual when drinking BCAAs regularly. Taking BCAAs provides a clear advantage if your primary goal is to put on mass or get lean, since when we diet down to lose weight and inches, we oftentimes lose our muscle mass too, creating the “skinny fat” look most of us would prefer to avoid.
When to Use Them and How
For the majority of BCAAs sold online and in supplement shops, the recommend dosage is around 5-7 grams . When you choose to drink them is largely up to you. You can take them on an empty stomach when you wake up, drink them pre, during, or post workout, or between meals. Many experts say not to take them in “competition” with protein shakes or high-protein meals. If you’re just giving them a go for the first time, we suggest you mix them up in a large water bottle and sip before, during, and immediately after your workout. Enjoy increased energy and endurance, less soreness and better recovery, and assistance in getting to your goal body.
FITtec. - Fitness for Life