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BODYSYSTEMS.ca – 5 Things You Need to Know About BCAAs
When it comes to building muscle and speeding recovery you better make sure BCAAs, or Branched Chain Amino Acids are part of your supplement routine. Amino acids are the building blocks of muscle and help to initiate cell growth and repair and even contribute to countless other functions in the body. You may already be supplementing with BCAAs, as you can find them in your protein powders, pre-workouts and intra-workouts. But despite that fact, do you know why you should be supplementing with them, or how to properly use them? This post will give you the low-down on BCAAs, so keep reading!
BCAAs, or Branched Chain Amino Acids, are essential amino acids that cannot be synthesized by the body. Therefore, we can only obtain these critical amino acids from the food we eat. Although there are nine essential amino acids, there are only three BCAAs—Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. When it comes to building muscle, these three aminos are by far the most important.
BCAAs play many important roles when it comes to building and maintaining muscle during and after exercise, as they stimulate pathways involved in muscle development. They can also help reduce exercise-induced muscle pain and decrease muscle fatigue. Additionally, their presence can help preserve muscle tissue and reduce muscle breakdown.
Each of the BCAAs has a specific role and function.
Isoleucine helps to regulate blood sugar levels, assists in the formation of blood cells and supports muscle growth and repair. Valine helps support the recovery and muscle building process, but it also plays a role in cognitive and nervous system functioning. But by far the most important and most anabolic of the BCAAs is Leucine. This amino acid is a direct regulator of the muscle-building pathways that activate the mTOR complex, which turns on protein synthesis. In fact, Leucine’s presence in the muscle determines if the muscle is in a state of anabolism or catabolism.
This is why supplementing with BCAAs before, during and even after a workout is so important.
If you workout regularly—lifting weights, performing conditioning work, participating in any kind of sport—BCAAs should be part of your supplement regimen to help improve your athletic ability including, speed recovery and support muscle-building goals.
Since BCAAs help to regulate protein metabolism, they can be supplemented before, during and after a workout to ensure the muscles have a steady supply of aminos. If you supplement before, aim to take them about 15 to 30 minutes prior to your workout and continue to sip them during your workout. (Most BCAA products are powders to be mixed with water in a shaker cup.) If you choose to supplement after, be sure to get them in immediately following your workout when your muscles are most receptive to nutrient up-take. Another popular time to supplement is before a fasted morning cardio session. Supplementing with BCAAs before a fasted cardio session helps you to preserve muscle tissue, which forces the body to tap into fat as fuel.
A typical serving is about 10 grams. For maximum results, look for a ratio of BCAAs of 3:2:1 or even 2:1:1 of Leucine: Isoleucine: Valine. These optimal ratios are supported by research.
There are many BCAA products out there, each with unique offerings. You can find BCAAs in pre-workout, intra-workout and post-workout products, but you can also find them on their own in a powder, liquid, chewable or pill format. When deciding on a product, choose free-form BCAAs, which are more readily available and more quickly absorbed. Majority of formulations are sugar-free, but be sure to check the supplement facts panel to ensure the product fits with your dietary plan.