You may hear the term BCAAs thrown around a fair bit, but what exactly are BCAAs, what do they do and why should you take them? Let's dive in and answer some of the most common questions about BCAAs.
What are BCAAs?
Firstly, BCAA stands for Branched Chain Amino Acids. They are made up of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. The reason they are “essential” is because your body can’t produce them itself. In order to get these amino acids, you would have to via food consumption or a BCAA supplement.
What do BCAAs do?
Branched chain amino acids play a number of important roles in the human body. Their main function is the building and repairing of muscle tissue. As a result, taking BCAAs can help reduce muscle breakdown, increase protein synthesis and delay fatigue.
Prevent Lean Muscle Loss
BCAA's are both anabolic and anti-catabolic because of their ability to significantly increase protein synthesis (create muscle growth) whilst also preventing muscle breakdown. Dieting, decreased physical activity and injury put the body into a catabolic state which can lead to lean-muscle mass loss. Bad news for those that have worked hard to build up their muscle, however during these times BCAAs are strongly recommended as it will help minimise this loss.
Not only is it great news for those looking to prevent losing muscle but it also beneficial for those looking to grow. Research shows combining BCAAs with resistance training results in maximal protein synthesis due to them both triggering something called mTORC1 signalling pathway, which is essential for building muscle. BCAAs will trigger protein synthesis even during breaks or injury, so the preservation of lean muscle mass will help keep the metabolism up and prevent some fat gain, while inactive.
Reduce Delayed-Muscle Onset Soreness (DOMS)
Have you ever had to skip a training session due to still being sore from your previous workout? Well supplementing with BCAAs can help reduce the uncomfortable pain that is delayed-muscle onset soreness (DOMS) so you can train at a higher intensity, more frequently. It doesn’t matter your gender, age or how experienced of a lifter you may be, DOMS doesn’t discriminate and you are likely to get it. Lack of muscular definition in beginner lifters and a slower anti-inflammatory response system in more advanced lifters, both are what contributes to DOMS. Although rest and a proper diet can help fix this problem, research has found that taking BCAAs after your workout reduce the effects of DOMS by 33%1, helping get you back into the gym quicker.
Help fight fatigue
During your workout, a decrease of circulating BCAA levels can lead to an increase in serotonin levels in the brain, which in return can lead to fatigue during exercise. Taking BCAA before and during your workout will result in it being broken down and used as an energy source. You won’t get the full effect of supplementing with a pre-workout, however taking it will contribute to delaying fatigue and improve both mental and physical performance helping you push on longer.
When should I take BCAAs?
Often the timing of supplements is just as important as what you are taking. BCAAs can be consumed before, during and after a workout. All these times have their own individual benefits.
Taking BCAAs before a workout
Taking BCAAs before a workout means that they will be available to your muscles when they are needed. This will give you the best muscle building benefits.
Taking BCAAs during a workout
Sipping on some BCAAs during your workout will help give you energy and delay fatigue and will assist hydration.
Taking BCAAs after a workout
Taking BCAAs after your workout will help reduce soreness and assist with muscle growth.
How much BCAAs should I take?
Each time you take BCAAs you should go with about 5-10 grams. If you’re looking to build mass perhaps you’d like an extra dose first thing upon waking to help stop the muscle breakdown during your night of fasting while asleep. You can also take another 5-10 gram dose of BCAAs during any other time of the day to get a mental energy boost, reduce hunger, and aid muscle growth. Try giving Anabolic State a try today to start feeling the difference!
1 Matsumoto K et.al (2009): Branched-chain amino acid supplementation attenuates muscle soreness, muscle damage and inflammation during an intensive training program.