Whether you’re a professional athlete or a bodybuilder, you should take advantage of the BCAA benefits. Here’s what they can do for you.
Bodybuilding communities have been utilizing the benefits of BCAA for years and swear by their success.
- But, what are they?
- Are they safe?
- And, are they right for me?
These are fair and intelligent questions. As a trainer, I always recommend taking a considered and individualized approach to your training, nutrition, and supplementation.
Here is a simple guide of all you need to know about BCAAs for bodybuilding and weight loss.
What Is BCAA?
BCAA is an acronym for a branched-chain amino acid. Amino acids are the building blocks in proteins.
Although there are twenty amino acids in total, nine of them are essential. This means that the body doesn’t produce them naturally and they must be sourced from nutrition and/or supplementation.
BCAAs are comprised of three of these essential amino acids:
- And Valine.
The purpose of BCAA use is to facilitate muscle growth, increase energy output, and decrease muscle recovery time and soreness.
How Do They Work?
BCAAs are extremely useful for bodybuilding as the three essential amino acids they contain make up for 35% of muscle protein .
Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine are essentially the building blocks of the muscle.
Leucine is the most useful for building your muscles proteins, while Isoleucine and Valine will help increase your energy levels throughout your workout.
Valine also brings more glucose to the muscle which helps increase energy for a more powerful workout.
Glucose is the first source of energy your body will burn when under stress, ensuring your proteins aren’t used as fuel and kept intact for muscle gain.
Why Is It Used In Bodybuilding?
It is not difficult to source proteins in an animal or a plant-based diet, so why is BCAA supplementation essential to bodybuilding? To ensure the optimal amount of Leucine is ingested based on your individualized muscle-building goals.
Leucine is proven to increase 5RM lifts over 12 weeks compared to those who didn’t consume the supplement .
It can be used in both the cutting and building phases of bodybuilding due to their ability to both increase muscle mass and increase fat loss.
The Power Of BCAA Benefits In Bodybuilding
Let’s see how you, as a bodybuilder, can benefit from taking BCAA supplements in the long run:
1. It’s The Best Way To Increase Muscle Mass
Using BCAA supplementation will increase your performance and increase your muscle mass. BCAA is the best way to consume the correct amount of Leucine needed for your muscle growth goals.
Leucine is the key ingredient to building muscle mass, and the ideal ratio to achieve this is 2:1:1 of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine .
When muscle building, BCAA will increase the rate of protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is the process of utilizing amino acids to create a complete protein resulting in building muscle more quickly .
It also reduces the rate of muscle breaks down as it makes it more difficult to use our muscle as a metabolic fuel source for the body.
Due to the glycogen production, our body will use the glycogen as its first fuel source, then fats, then lastly, the proteins in our muscles.
2. Reduces Muscle Fatigue During Exercise
BCAAs inhibit the serotonin production levels in your brain, freeing you up to recover more quickly during your workout.
While using BCAAs, you could reduce both your muscle and mental fatigue levels by 12-17% .
Taking BCAAs before and after exercise won’t just help with fatigue during your workout, but also during rest and recovery afterward.
Especially helpful for endurance athletes, BCAA will facilitate in being able to train harder and longer.
3. May Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Although not all medical journals have proven the definitive relationship between blood sugar levels and the ingestion of BCAA, some studies prove that BCCAs help lower blood sugar levels.
The amino acids Isoleucine and Leucine facilitate muscles taking in more sugar from your blood. This, however, did vary depending on the participant .
4. Helps In Relieving Muscle Soreness After Working Out
BCAA will help you recover faster as it reduced the levels of enzymes that are involved in muscle disruption.
For up to five days after you’ve used BCAA supplements, the levels of serum creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase are lower in the bloodstream .
This was also proven in studies where untrained participants were asked about their delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after their workout.
Or in everyday terms, lower levels in these enzymes mean less DOMS regardless of how much your body is conditioned for resistance training .
5. Promotes Fat Loss
The amino acid Valine promotes the production of glucose that breaks down into glycogen which is why BCAA assists in a more explosive workout. Once these stores are used, fat cells are the next source of fuel to be used.
BCAAs have been proven to significantly promote fat loss compared to carbohydrate sports drinks or whey protein powders .
Naturally, due to the increase in muscle mass BCAAs increase your basal metabolic rate which contributes to a higher carbohydrate and fat loss rate throughout resting periods.
How To Take BCAAs When Bodybuilding
Ideally, a great BCAA ratio is 2:1:1 of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. And a ratio of up to 3:1:1 is okay during the post-workout phase.
The power of Leucine is facilitated by Isoleucine and Valine. A ratio any less than this will be counter-intuitive for bodybuilding and fat loss goals. Although, there is too much of a good thing.
BCAAs are not to be sipped on throughout the entire day or they may have the opposite effect on protein synthesis. They must be ingested strategically and in cycles to ensure the optimum level of protein synthesis.
BCAA level is highest in the bloodstream 30 minutes after taking them. It’s recommended to consume BCAA:
- 30m – 2h before strength training;
- Only during intensive training after 1 hour of work;
- 45m – 5h after strength training.
For men: Recommended daily intake is 15-20g. However, if you are a high-performance athlete using BCAA for bodybuilding you can double this by taking 5g serving 5-6 times per day.
For women: Recommended daily intake is 5-6g per day. However, if you are a high-performance athlete using BCAA for bodybuilding you can double this to 2-3g servings 4-5 times per day.
Taking into consideration all these BCAA benefits presented above, would you supplement your workouts for muscle and strength enhancement? And if you already do it, how’s it going? Let me know in the comment section low!