The BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) are amino acids that are found naturally in foods such as milk, eggs, meat, fish, poultry, soybeans, and peanuts. They are also added to protein powders and supplements.
BCAAs are essential for muscle growth and recovery after exercise. They are often recommended to athletes who want to build lean muscle mass and improve their performance.
This article will discuss the use of BCAAs and how to take them to improve your exercise performance.
What Are BCAAs?
BCAAs are a type of amino acid made by the body from other types of amino acids. These include leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
Leucine is one of the three branched-chain amino acids that make up the BCAAs (the others being isoleucine and valine).
These amino acids can be broken down into several smaller molecules that can be used by the muscles and organs.
For example, when you exercise or lift weights, it uses energy to break down these small molecules, but during times of rest and recovery this process slows down.
A slow breakdown rate means less energy for your muscles and organs than if they had more energy going through them.
The BCAAs help reduce the amount of time needed for the metabolism to slow down once the physical activity has stopped.
BCAAs Help Reduce Muscle Fatigue
After working out, many people feel sluggish and tired. That’s because their body has been working so hard to keep pace with their workouts and their bodies haven’t had enough time to relax.
In order to perform at an optimal level over long periods of training or competition, it’s important to minimize fatigue.
Some studies have shown that supplementing with BCAAs can help lower levels of fatigue while exercising.
Research shows that when a person takes supplemental branched-chain amino acids, he or she has fewer feelings of fatigue and reduced soreness following a workout.
BCAAs Make Your Exercise Performance Better
Supplements containing BCAAs work by speeding up the absorption of carbohydrates and proteins into the bloodstream.
This makes sure those nutrients don't get stored away in the fat cells, so they can be used right away to fuel bodily functions.
When you combine that with the fact that BCAAs replenish the glycogen stores in the liver that's depleted after a workout, they may help increase endurance and strength.
It can also help promote faster recovery between sets in resistance exercises that rely on strength.
How Do You Choose A BCAA Supplement?
It's important to note that supplementation comes with risks; however, using BCAAs can help certain individuals without any side effects.
If you're looking to boost your exercise performance or get a better pump after lifting, then BCAAs can definitely be helpful.
However, there are some people who should avoid taking them. BCAAs shouldn't be taken by anyone who has kidney problems.
Here are two ways to choose which BCAA powder to buy:
1. Choose Based On The Active Ingredient
There are different ingredients in the BCAAs. You could use whey protein isolate for all three branched chain amino sugars, for instance.
However, Whey Protein Isolate contains almost 90% L-Leucine, whereas Beta Casein Concentrate contains nearly 60%, and Alpha Sarcina Contains 30%.
So I recommend choosing a formula that includes the most effective ingredient -- such as L-Leucine.
2. Choose Based On The Source
As mentioned earlier, BCAAs are a form of essential amino acids. They can come from animal-based sources or plant-based sources.
While the majority of the research points to animal-derived products, a study published in 2010 found no reason to rule out non-animal protein sources.
For people concerned about the impact of animal consumption, BCAAs from plants seem to be just as effective and safe.
3. Choose Based On The Cost
Some manufacturers sell their formulas for less than $20 per serving, while others charge close to $40. Obviously, if you want lots of servings, the cheaper options won't cut it.
4. Choose Based On Taste
If you don't like the way something tastes, you probably won't end up eating it. The same goes for the nutrition supplements we consume every day.
There is really no point in spending money on something that we aren't likely to ingest regularly. Even though some companies offer flavored supplements, I always go straight for the vanilla flavor.
Side Effects Of BCAA Supplements Are Rare
While BCAAs are safe for most people, there have been cases where allergic reactions were caused by supplementing with leucine alone.
Individuals who suffer from an allergy to dairy products are at higher risk of developing these symptoms because milk proteins contain both casein (analogous to BCAAs) and lactose.
Some studies suggest that whey protein may cause headaches and stomach upset in people who develop allergies to dairy products.
Another study published in 2011 showed that when people accidentally took too much of what was intended for a treatment program, they experienced headaches and other unpleasant side effects during the course of the study.
When Should You Take BCAAs?
While athletes often take BCAAs before and after workouts, researchers typically recommend adding them as part of the diet.
A typical dose is around 1 gram of leucine, 1 gram of beta-alanine, or 2 grams of valine per kilogram of body weight twice daily.
This translates into approximately 400 mg of leucine, 200 mg of beta-alanine, and 800 mg of valine for the average 150-pound person.
Researchers believe the effectiveness of BCAA powders increases over time and evens out throughout the day. It can also vary greatly depending on the individual.
Supplementation with various vitamins, minerals, herbs, and natural substances may help boost your workouts in ways that nothing else will.
That being said, it's important to remember that food is still king. If you stick to an organic whole foods diet, you'll get all the nutrients and nutrients you need.
The best time to take BCAA’s is usually right after a workout. It gets broken down quickly into fast-acting muscle-building fuel which helps you recover faster from exercise. Many athletes add them to their post-workout shake or drink.