There's a lot of hoopla in the fitness industry right now when it comes to branched-chain amino acids (or BCAAs for short). Some people swear by their benefits while others argue that they're not necessary.
We're here to shed some light on the issue and help you figure out whether or not BCAAs should play a role in your supplement routine. Read on to learn all about branched-chain amino acids, the benefits they have to offer, and who is most likely to see results from supplementing with them.
What Are Branched-Chain Amino Acids?
From your high school science classes, you might remember that amino acids are building blocks of protein. There are 20 amino acids that are combined to create thousands of different proteins that the body needs to function in the most optimal way.
Of these 20 amino acids, nine are considered essential. This means the body cannot make them on its own. We need to get them from food or supplements.
Leucine, isoleucine, and valine are three of the nine essential amino acids that are known as branched-chain amino acids. The term "branched-chain&" refers to their chemical structure. They have a chain that -- you guessed it -- branches off to the side and makes them different from other amino acids.
These three amino acids are found in many protein-rich foods, especially animal products like meat, eggs, and dairy. You can also buy them in powder form.
Benefits of BCAAs
BCAA powders have been on the supplement market for a long time, and they offer a lot of potential benefits. The following are some of the most noteworthy benefits to keep in mind if you've been on the fence about adding BCAAs to your supplement stack:
Increased Muscle Growth
If increasing your muscle mass is a priority for you, you might want to consider supplementing with BCAAs. There is some research that suggests BCAA supplementation can stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which is the process by which muscle is made.
One study, for example, looked at folks who consumed a mere 5.6 grams of BCAAs post-workout. These people experienced a 22 percent increase in their bodies' muscle protein synthesis compared to the participants who received a placebo.
Minimized Muscle Soreness
BCAAs can play a big role in speeding up recovery and minimizing muscle soreness for athletes and gym-goers, too.
When you feel sore after a tough workout, this feeling comes from the fact that your muscles have sustained a series of tiny tears. BCAAs help to minimize this damage, which helps to reduce the amount of soreness you may feel after exercising.
A study compared people who supplemented with BCAAs prior to squatting to people who supplemented with a placebo. The results showed that those who consumed BCAAs experienced less muscle fatigue and a reduction in delayed onset muscle soreness (or DOMS).
Supplementing with BCAAs can help you to last longer and become less fatigued during your workout. This is especially advantageous to endurance athletes, as well as those who exercise for long periods of time or who perform multiple workouts in one day.
When you exercise, your muscles use BCAAs for energy. As your levels of BCAAs decline, your levels of another amino acid, tryptophan, start to increase. This contributes to an increase in serotonin production, which can cause you to feel more fatigued. Adding in BCAAs can help to combat this effect, improve your endurance, and minimize feelings of tiredness during and after your workout.
Minimized Muscle Wasting
In addition to minimizing muscle breakdown during your workouts, BCAAs can also play an important role in preventing muscle wasting during periods when you're unable to exercise. For example, if you have an injury or are ill and can't make it to the gym for weeks on end, supplementing with BCAAs may help you to avoid this until you're able to get back in the gym.
Better Blood Sugar Balance
If you have concerns about blood sugar balance, you might benefit from BCAA supplementation.
Some studies suggest that BCAAs (leucine and isoleucine, specifically) can stimulate insulin secretion and help your muscles to take in more sugar from your blood. This, in turn, helps to lower blood sugar levels.
Not everyone experiences blood sugar significant improvements from BCAAs, but they do have advantages for some folks. One study showed that they had some benefits to individuals struggling with liver disease, for example.
Strengthened Immune System
BCAAs may strengthen your immune system as well. If you feel as though you're always getting sick, or if you just want to protect yourself from all the germs circulating in gyms, consider adding some BCAAs to your pre, intra, or post-workout drink.
Some research shows that the immune cells in the gut (remember, this is where the majority of your immune system resides) can use BCAAs as fuel. This helps to speed up the immune system regeneration process and protects your body from pathogens.
The stronger your immune system is, the better your recovery will be. This also, of course, reduces your chances of developing many illnesses.
Who Should Use BCAAs?
There are advantages that come with BCAA supplementation. It's important to note, though, that some people are more likely to benefit from BCAAs than others, including those who belong to these groups:
A common criticism against BCAA supplementation is that you can get all the BCAAs your body needs from protein-rich foods. Remember, though, that most foods that contain BCAAs are animal-based and, therefore, not suitable to those who eat a vegan diet. BCAA supplementation allows vegans to continue sticking to their preferred diet without sacrificing essential amino acids.
Thanks to the fatigue-fighting benefits of BCAAs, they can be a great supplement for endurance athletes. Folks who run miles upon miles, for example, will likely see some improvements in their performance and ability to fight off tiredness when they sip on BCAAs during their training sessions.
Those Who Train at High Intensities
Athletes and gym-goers who train at high intensities can benefit from BCAAs as well. Whether you're doing intense weightlifting or plyometric workouts, you're likely experiencing a lot of muscle damage during your training sessions, and BCAAs can help you to combat this.
Those Who Don't Drink Enough Water
Many people find that they don't drink a lot of water throughout the day because they simply don't enjoy the taste. Adding BCAAs to your water can make it more palatable and help you ensure you're staying hydrated. This is especially true if you choose a BCAA drink mix like ProSupps HydroBCAA, which contains electrolytes in addition to essential amino acids.
People Who Train Fasted
If you work out on an empty stomach, you might be more prone to excessive muscle damage. Sipping on BCAAs before and during your workout can help you to combat this effect and ensure you're recovering quickly from your workouts. They also won't upset your stomach, which isn't always the case with other supplements, such as protein shakes.
People Who Are Dieting
Folks who are dieting or are cutting down for a show or competition can benefit from BCAAs, too. BCAA supplementation can reduce potential muscle loss. It may also help with low energy levels, especially if you're reducing carbs and calories leading up to a big event and find that you're struggling with your endurance.
Tips for Taking BCAAs
Do you fall into one of the groups of people most likely to benefit from BCAAs? Do you want to ensure you're maximizing the benefits you get from them? If so, be sure to keep these tips in mind when you start supplementing with BCAAs:
- Start with a conservative dose (one scoop of BCAA powder is a good starting point, although you may choose to incorporate more later)
- Be consistent (you'll see better results if you make BCAAs a consistent part of your routine, rather than supplementing with them sporadically)
- Use them before, during, or after workouts (pick a time that works for your schedule and is easy for you to remember)
- Look for a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine to isoleucine and valine (this has been shown to yield the best results)
BCAAs are a hard supplement to get wrong. As long as you follow these basic guidelines, you shouldn't have any trouble adding them to your routine and seeing results.
Buy the Best BCAAs Today
As you can see, there are lots of reasons why you ought to add branched-chain amino acids to your supplement regimen. This is especially true if you need help recovering from your workouts or have a hard time meeting your daily protein and amino acid needs.
There are tons of different BCAA products on the market these days, but ProSupps HydroBCAA stands out from the rest. 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 even the sweatiest of workouts.
Order ProSupps HydroBCAA (available in nine different and delicious flavors) today.