You’ve seen BCAA supplements for sale online and on store shelves. Have you ever wondered if they’re worth using?
Everyone’s supplement needs are different. However, BCAAs do offer some unique benefits, especially if you’re looking to build muscle or improve your workout performance.
Are you new to BCAA supplements? If so, read on to learn more about Branched-Chain Amino Acids, including the top 4 benefits of taking BCAAs.
What Are BCAAs?
Out of the 20 amino acids (protein building blocks), there are 3 that fall under the umbrella of Branched-Chain Amino Acids: Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine.
These 3 amino acids are Essential Amino Acids (also known as EAAs). This means the body can’t make them on its own. You have to get them from your diet, either in supplement form or from foods like meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products.
Top 4 Benefits of Taking BCAAs
Now that you know what BCAAs are, let’s explore some of the reasons why you might want to use them. Here are 4 incredible benefits that BCAA supplements have to offer to athletes and gym-goers:
1. Support Muscle Growth
The main reason why people use BCAA supplements is that they want to maximize muscle gain.
It doesn’t matter if someone wants to build muscle for aesthetic purposes, to hit a new lifting PR, or to support their metabolism (more muscle means a faster metabolic rate). Regardless of your reasoning, BCAAs can help you earn better results.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids are essential for muscle-building. Leucine, specifically, stimulates the pathway needed for muscle protein synthesis, the process the body uses to repair muscle damage caused by exercise.
In other words, when you’re getting an adequate amount of BCAAs (as well as other Essential Amino Acids), you’re giving your body the tools it needs to repair muscle tissue and grow stronger.
2. Increase Energy and Stamina
When you consume BCAAs before and during your workout, you can avoid fatigue and increase your stamina.
While you exercise, your body depletes its supply of BCAAs, which are stored in the muscle tissue. When BCAA levels drop, tryptophan levels in your brain start to rise. Tryptophan is another essential amino acid.
Elevated tryptophan levels can cause fatigue when tryptophan is converted to serotonin. By supplementing with BCAAs, you can prevent your body’s levels from dropping.
This, in turn, prevents tryptophan from building up and reduces your chances of feeling fatigued. As a result, you’ll have more energy and stamina while training, especially during long or high-intensity workouts.
3. Fill in Diet Gaps
For those who eat plant-based diets, it’s often easy to not get a sufficient amount of Branched-Chain Amino Acids. This is because most plant-based proteins aren’t good sources of BCAAs (there are some exceptions like peas and soy).
If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, BCAA supplements can be a big help, especially if you’re trying to build muscle. Taking BCAAs makes it easier for you to fill in gaps in your diet and ensure you’re getting enough.
4. Reduce Muscle Loss
Many people also turn to BCAA supplements when they’re dieting. It’s not uncommon for people who are dieting and eating in a calorie deficit to lose some muscle mass in addition to losing body fat.
If you want to reduce the amount of muscle you lose during a dieting phase, BCAAs can help. This is because they provide you with additional essential amino acids, which, as you now know, your body needs to repair muscle tissue and reduce muscle protein breakdown.
Keep in mind, because BCAAs can help you maintain your muscle tissue, they can also help you keep your metabolism working as efficiently as possible while dieting.
When your muscle mass increases, so does your metabolic rate. The more muscle you maintain, the more calories you’ll burn, which means you’ll be able to get lean faster.
How to Consume BCAA Supplements
You don’t have to do a lot of work to figure out how to consume BCAA supplements. They typically come in powder form, so you just add a scoop to your water, shake it up, and drink.
You can drink BCAA supplements on their own, or you can add a scoop to your pre-workout drink and take everything at once.
How Much Should I Take?
The average BCAA supplement contains about 7g (or 0.24 ounces) of Branched-Chain Amino Acids per scoop. For most people, this is a sufficient amount to help them achieve their health and fitness goals, especially since they’re also likely getting some BCAAs from other foods or supplements they’re consuming throughout the day.
A possible exception to this rule is those who eat vegetarian or vegan diets. These folks might not get adequate amounts of BCAAs from their diet since they don’t eat meat or many (if any) animal products. If you fall into this category, taking an additional scoop or two of BCAAs might be beneficial.
Is It Possible to Take Too Many BCAAs?
Research suggests that people can take up to 35g (or 1.23 ounces) of BCAAs per day without any negative side effects. In other words, you could take about 5 scoops of a typical BCAA supplement safely.
Most people probably aren’t exceeding this amount, nor do they have much reason to. If you were to consume a lot more than the safe upper limit, though, you could run into some potential issues.
For example, large amounts of BCAAs are associated with fatigue and poor coordination. Some people also experience headaches and nausea.
These symptoms may arise, in part, because BCAAs have a mild influence on blood sugar balance.
When to Take BCAA Powder
Technically, you can take BCAA supplements at any time of day. However, many people prefer to take them either before or after a workout.
Taking BCAAs before training can help you to experience reduced fatigue and improvements in stamina. Taking them afterward may allow you to enjoy more recovery and muscle repair benefits, though.
From a practical standpoint, it may be easier to remember to take BCAAs when they’re combined with a person’s pre-workout ritual. Some people even choose BCAA supplements with caffeine added to make the process even easier.
If you’re taking a BCAA supplement that contains caffeine, be sure to keep the timing of your workout in mind. If you’re training in the afternoon or evening, your supplement could have a negative impact on your sleep.
Caffeine has a half-life of about 5-6 hours, after all. If you consume it in the afternoon or evening, some of it will still be in your system when you’re trying to go to sleep at night.
How Long Before Working Out Should I Take BCAA Supplements?
Most people see good results when they take their BCAAs about 15-30 minutes before their workouts.
This timing works particularly well if you’re taking BCAAs alongside pre-workout (or if you’re using a combination pre-workout and BCAA product).
It gives your body enough time to start absorbing and utilizing the ingredients. It also allows you to experience the peak benefits at around the same time that you’re getting into the main part of your workout.
Experience the Benefits of BCAAs Today
Are you ready to experience the top 4 benefits of taking BCAAs? If so, follow the advice outlined above so you can feel confident that you’re using your supplements correctly and seeing the best results from them.
Do you need help finding a high-quality BCAA supplement? ProSupps offers several options.
Head to our shop today to check out our selection and choose a product that will work well for you.