BCAA comes from the term “Branch-Chained Amino Acids”, and it’s very popular these days in the world of fitness enthusiasts. So let’s learn more about it.
When it comes to working out and building muscles, BCAA is a key element in our biological structure as it helps protein to be absorbed and to contribute to developing the muscles.
Let’s have a closer look at what BCAA is and what it can do for you.
Why Would I Take BCAA Supplements?
I’m not trying to build a case for BCAA, as taking it or not will, in fact, be your option, as with everything fitness-related. But I do want us to have a look at some of the advantages of taking BCAA.
After reading this, take a moment to see if you feel they are necessary to your level of fitness and to achieving your fitness goals.
Our bodies need over 20 essential amino-acids just to develop muscles and to produce other molecules that are essential to growth and development.
Most of these amino acids are produced naturally by the body, but some of them need to be ingested, either from our food or from supplements.
Some natural sources of BCAA are all protein sources in our food:
- Red meat;
- Chicken breast;
- Canned tuna;
- Or wild salmon.
Yet there are several factors that can cause amino deficiencies, and which require taking supplements, such as veganism or lactose intolerance.
What Do They Do?
Well, first of all, contrary to all labels, BCAA does not go straight to the muscles.
It needs to be synthesized, which means that it passed through the liver, and a part of the amino acids is used for other processes. So only a small part of them is used to build muscles.
What it does do is to act as a signal to the body to stop synthesizing protein during workouts, and instead to reverse the process and to begin producing protein and developing muscles.
The theory says that when you diet, you should take BCAA to make sure that your muscles are maintained, and that you’re only shedding fat.
How About Whey?
Most whey proteins do contain some BCAA. Since this can be taken before, during and after your training, just as whey, it seems like a perfect combination.
Yet, there are those who suggest that supplementing with BCAA separately is more effective than consuming more whey protein.
That is because BCAA is usually absorbed quickly, which helps the muscles, and whey protein is absorbed a bit slower (still quick, but not quick enough).
So if you take BCAA supplements separately, you can impact protein synthesis and protein degradation a lot more than just with whey.
There are very many studies in favor of BCAA, but the one idea that stuck to me is that when you supplement with BCAAs like leucine, you increase muscle retention, and you also get the best out of fat loss.
So the bottom line is that, when you take BCAA, you will be able to have more muscle mass (and risk losing any) and to lose body fat while maintaining that lean look we all strive for.
What’s your experience with BCAAs? Share your story in the comments section below.