BCAAs: Everything You Need to Know

With growing popularity in the gym — enough to rival that of whey protein, we’ll wager — BCAAs have earned themselves a spot on any serious gym goer’s supplement shelf.

But what actually are BCCAs? What are the benefits? Are there any side-effects and, most importantly, does the average gym-goer truly need them?

Well, if this study, published in the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, is anything to go by then the answer is a resounding yes. The study found that BCAA supplementation reduced DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) following exercise, so if you want to be able to use your arms after doing pull-ups or you want to avoid being confined to a chair for days after doing legs then consider BCAAs.

Not convinced? Well, below are all the benefits of BCAAs. Prepare to be convinced.

What are BCAA Supplements? What Does BCAA Do?

Branched-chain amino acids are the building blocks of protein. In order for your body to rebuild and grow new muscle, you need these amino acids. There are 20 in total, 11 of which can be manufactured by the body. However, the body can’t make the other nine, they have to come from our diet or supplements.

The nine essential amino acids are: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Of these nine, however, there’s an important trio when it comes to maintaining all-important muscle mass: isoleucine, valine, and leucine.

The latter, leucine, is the most important amino acid. Within your body, leucine diminishes during exercise, meaning that it must be replaced through your diet to help stimulate further protein synthesis and allow the body to build more muscle.

4 Benefits of BCAA Supplements

Below, we talk you through four of the most pertinent BCAA benefits that are applicable to anyone and everyone, whether you lift five times a week, swear by short and sharp HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) sessions or just want to recover from exercise easier.

BCAAs Build Muscle

A well-rounded diet will contain all the essential amino acids needed to build muscle. A high-protein diet from things like meat, eggs and dairy is absolutely vital to provide the full spectrum of essential amino acids for the body. Real food should always be the priority and getting your diet right should be fundamental before looking to supplementation. One cup of cottage cheese, for example, a scoop of whey protein or 85g of chicken breast will serve up two to three grams of leucine. In fact, any animal-based protein will contain leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Below you’ll find a list of a few of our favorites.

BCAAs Can Limit Fatigue

Research suggests BCCAs can fight the rate at which you tire from exercise. Of course, there are several factors in any workout that can contribute to this — intensity, duration, and fitness levels, to name three — but BCAAs help restore levels of tryptophan in your brain, a chemical that converts to serotonin and causes fatigue during exercise. In the study, participants supplemented with BCAAs showed signs of improved mental focus during exercise.

BCAAS Could Help You Burn More Fat

When it comes to fat-burning, BCAAs and leucine intake could help with weight loss. Supplementation of the BCAA leucine, especially in combination with glutamine, has been shown to help overweight subjects on a hypocaloric diet. Helping to reduce excess fat, and helping to normalize visceral fat, which is a marker of metabolic problems.

BCAAS Can Reduce Your DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)

Research published in the Journal of International Society of Sports Nutrition found that consuming the correct amount of BCAAs can help iron out delayed onset muscle soreness. The study suggests that BCAA supplementation can help decrease muscle soreness after a particularly strenuous workout, with the study comparing a placebo group against a supplemented group, with the latter showing “a reduction muscle soreness”.

What BCAA Supplement Should I Take?

With SO many options out there it can be overwhelming. At OEVFITNESS we highly recommend products from PrestigeLabs.ca and DrivenNutrition.ca Both companies have awesome supplement line ups, use top-quality ingredients and are true to label. Products can be ordered online and will be delivered right to your door in 2-5 business days depending on the shipping option selected. Our 2 favorites are:

Driven Nutrition AMINO™ – Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) 100% Vegan Plant Based

  1. Perfect BCAA Ratio of 2:1:1 – Essential BCAAs Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine promote your muscles’ uptake of fuel, boost muscle synthesis, suppress muscle breakdown, increase power and reduce fatigue—allowing you to go harder, longer.

  2. Support Muscle Building* – Protect the muscles you’ve already built because the BCAAs help keep you out of the catabolic state during your WOD.

  3. Speeds Recovery* – When you supplement with Amino, the pure, clean blend of ready-to-use aminos are absorbed quickly and directly, giving you a virtually “instant-on” switch for muscle building.

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