Branched chain amino acids (BCAAS) have been around longer than even the most popular supplements, like creatine and beta-alinine, but not many realize the full range of its ability regarding both muscle growth and performance.
They go far beyond simply being building blocks for muscle tissue – they do so much more than that. When you hear the term BCAAs being used, it’s these three amino acids that we are talking about: leucine, isoleucine and valine. These three BCAAs fall into a category called “essential amino acids”, meaning that the body cannot produce them on its own, and therefore must get adequate amounts through supplementation or dietary sources. In fact, even though there are about 20 different amino acids that our muscles use for growth, these three BCAAs comprise of roughly 1/3 of the aminos within muscle tissue.With that said, if muscle growth is your goal, BCAAs are a must have.
BCAAs and Performance
No matter what your primary goal is, BCAAs are there to help you increase your performance to work towards them. If your goal is to lose weight, BCAAs will be right there with you to help you push through your cardio. If you want to build more muscle, BCAAs will help you lift heavier and keep you in the game longer. Not only can BCAAs be used as energy themselves, but they also enhance fat oxidation in glycogen depleted subjects. This is the main reason why I take 5 grams as soon as I wake up – to increase my glyogen levels. By consuming this pre-workout, it allows me to train harder, for longer, without fatigue – this goes for both intensity and endurance training.
Another fascinating way that BCAAs can enhance their performance is through their ability to spare glycogen during workouts. Glycogen is found as stored carbohydrates within muscle tissue and the liver and is the favored fuel source for working muscles engaged in high intensity exercises. Glycogen levels can be spared by 25% (that’s huge), studies have shown, when ingested before and during training. The glycogen sparing effect of BCAAs will not only help you train more efficiently, it also leads to faster recovery, leading to a better workout tomorrow.
BCAAs and Fat Loss
BCAA supplementation has been shown to trigger significant losses of visceral fat (located in deeper layers of the body and the hardest to lose). One theory as to how BCAAs exert their fat burning and muscle building qualities is this: when they are found in high quantity during strenuous exercise, the body senses these high levels in the bloodstream, which is typically a sign of muscle breakdown. This stops the breakdown of muscle and uses more fat for fuel (energy).
Body Weight and BCAA Intake:
less than 150lbs – 3 grams before, during and after training
more than 150lbs – 5 grams before, during and after training
BCAAs have been shown to benefit pretty much everyone who is active, whether your goal is to lose weight, build muscle or run longer. BCAAs are the perfect supplement to increase performance and strength, and recovery faster to get back in the game quicker.
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