If you're an avid gym-goer, you've probably heard of whey protein and protein shakes. But have you heard of BCAAs?
BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) reduce the onset of muscle soreness after exercise, so may be important in helping you to reach your fitness goals.
Read on to learn more about BCAAs, their laundry list of benefits, and how much you need to consume in a day.
What Are BCAA Supplements?
Famously known as the building blocks of protein, branched-chain amino acids help to maintain and grow the muscles in the body. While there are 20 types of amino acids, nine of them cannot be produced by the body and have to be obtained from food and supplements.
These nine essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, methionine, threonine, valine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, and lysine. If your main goal is growing and maintaining muscle mass, it is best to focus on just three amino acids: Isoleucine, leucine and valine; which are also known as BCAAs.
Research has shown that of the three, leucine is the most important when it comes to muscle protein synthesis, which helps the body to build more muscle. Leucine has been shown to have positive effects on muscle growth and also helps to prevent muscle catabolism, reducing muscle tissue breakdown.
The Benefits of BCAA Supplements
While you might find yourself performing better in the gym immediately after taking BCAAs, it's the long-term benefits of this supplement where you'll really want to focus.
Whether you are newcomer to the gym or a professional athlete looking into BCAA supplements, here are some of the ways BCAAs will help you get optimal results from your training and fitness journey.
Having a balanced diet with the right amount of protein is essential to obtaining all of the essential amino acids you need to build healthy muscles. Look to protein-rich foods such as meat, eggs, and dairy products to help you reach that balance.
Although you can obtain BCAAs from your diet, getting them in the right quantities can be tricky. In order to get the maximum benefit from your BCAAs, you need to take them in a 2:1:1 ratio. That is, for every 2 grams of leucine, you should have 1 gram of isoleucine and 1 gram of valine.
Supplements like our HydroBCAA +Essentials have been designed to provide you with the BCAA hit you need within the right ratio for you to receive the maximum benefits.
If you find yourself feeling tired after a strenuous workout, then you may be in need of BCAAs. BCAAs are known to help reduce the onset of post-workout fatigue as they replenish the tryptophan levels in your brain.
Keeping your tryptophan levels high helps to maintain serotonin in your brain and reduce fatigue from exercise. In addition, you might also find yourself focusing better during your workout.
Burn More Fat
For those who are interested in losing weight and becoming leaner, studies have shown that BCAAs combined with glutamine have resulted in fat loss among overweight participants on a hypocaloric diet.
Not only do BCAAs help to reduce excess fat in the body, but they also help to stabilize visceral fat, which is often a sign of metabolism issues. Remember to keep an eye out for the specific BCAA leucine, as it is imperative for fat loss and muscle growth.
Reduction of Muscle Soreness
Consuming the right amount of BCAAs has also been shown to reduce the onset of muscle soreness after a workout.
Studies compared placebo groups with BCAA supplemented groups and found that the latter group reported a significant decrease in muscle soreness at the end of their rigorous workouts. Less muscle soreness means less recovery time until you're back in the gym.
Real Food Options
Another way to ensure you are getting enough protein and BCAAs is through your diet. Some of our favorite protein-rich foods include chicken, eggs, and cottage cheese. If you are craving fish, wild salmon and canned tuna are great options with high amounts of protein and BCAAs.
Powder or Tablet?
While real food options are great, it's not always possible to have eggs or canned tuna on you at all times. Especially if you're on the go at work or in a rush to get to the gym, it can be impossible to stop and eat a protein and BCAA-rich meal. Therefore, you may find yourself turning to BCAA supplements to fulfill your needs. But where should you start?
BCAA supplements most commonly come in two forms, powder and tablet. Consuming BCAA supplements in their powder form allows the supplements to be absorbed by the muscles quickly when mixed with water or sports drinks.
Our HydroBCAA +Energy supplement is a perfect powdered option for those looking for both the muscle growth and repair of high-quality BCAAs, as well as an added boost of energy, thanks to the inclusion of caffeine. We have also included electrolytes as part of our mix. Electrolytes will help you with your overall hydration after a tough workout, which is especially important if you are consuming pre-workouts that contain caffeine and creatine.
Another brand that might catch your interest is Mr. Hyde Icon, which serves 2.5 grams of BCAAs per 15 gram serving. This product is an all-in best pre-workout supplement for high-level athletes, formulated with a patented blend of premium fully-dosed ingredients to boost all aspects of an individual’s training.
When to Take BCAA Supplements
When it comes to timing, we recommend taking BCAA supplements about 15 minutes before exercising. If you are taking these supplements as part of your daily nutrition and lifestyle, it is safe to take them up to three times a day, depending on the size of the serving.
Don’t forget to check the recommended consumption guidelines on the label of your supplements. If you are on an intermittent fasting diet or prefer to exercise before eating your first meal of the day, we recommend consuming the supplements half an hour before your session.
For those who are looking to optimize their muscle gain, it is best to consume 5-8 grams of leucine along with a liter or more of water during your workout. Leucine helps to extend the muscle protein synthesis process after a workout. It is also advisable to consume leucine after breakfast or lunch; we recommend taking leucine supplements 90 minutes after eating if your focus is to build muscle and stimulate growth.
As always, please consult your healthcare provider before taking or mixing supplements.
The Side Effects of BCAA Supplements
For the most part, there are no harmful side effects to consuming BCAA supplements.
As a supplement, BCAAs are not highly calorific, which means they are a great option for those looking to reduce fat or shed extra weight. 10 grams of BCAA supplements only amounts to about 40 calories. Therefore, weight gain is not a concern or side effect of BCAA supplementation.
If you are on a special diet or are vegan/vegetarian, be sure to check the ingredients of your supplements before consuming them. It is important to be aware of the products you are consuming and their impact on your body.
BCAA supplements have a lot of health benefits when it comes to fat loss and muscle gain. Still, it is important to maintain a balanced diet as the foundation for all of your fitness and health goals.
There are plenty of different BCAA products on the market these days, including ProSupps HydroBCAAs, the perfect match for those who are looking to invest in a supplement that is backed by science. Not only does it feature an ideal 2:1:1 ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine, but it also gives you a healthy dose of electrolytes to keep you hydrated and feeling your best during your most intense workouts.
If you are looking to continue your fitness journey the right way, consider purchasing your supplements with a reputable brand. As long as you do your research and choose the right products to consume, BCAAs will help you realize a drastic difference in your fitness performance.