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What are BCAAs? Uses & Benefits

What are BCAAs? Uses & Benefits



If you’re looking for a way to take your fitness game to the next level and boost your recovery, BCAAs could be your secret weapon. BCAAs are able to help promote muscle growth, repair muscles and reduce soreness.


But what exactly are they and how do you add them to your workout and health regimen?


What are BCAAs?


When your glycogen begins to run low, your body relies on BCAAs or branched chain amino acids for fuel. There are 22 amino acids in all. The three types in particular that are categorized as BCAAs include leucine, isoleucine and valine. BCAAs, similar to all amino acids, are the building blocks of protein. However, BCAAs help preserve muscle glycogen which fuels your muscles and minimizes protein breakdown when you’re working out. Typically, amino acids are metabolized in your liver. BCAAs however, are metabolized by your muscles, which affects protein synthesis and muscle metabolization.


BCAAs are unique because your body cannot produce them on its own. So getting them from food or supplements is the only way your body can access them. While supplements are popular, some nutritionists believe you can get them from food alone. If you’re a meat eater, you can find them in red meat, chicken, fish, dairy and eggs. Plant-based eaters can find them in various sources including beans, lentils, brown rice, whole wheat, corn and nuts. However, most people don’t want to immediately eat a giant steak or chicken breasts after every brutal workout. Planning meals with these foods around workout times can definitely benefit you, but supplements help you get the most out of BCAAS.


If you’re trying to lose weight or are dieting, BCAAs can help your metabolism and work along diet and exercise to help with weight loss. BCAAs, leucine in particular, can help people control cravings. Studies show that leucine activates the brain signalling molecules (mTOR and AMPK) that regulate hunger in the brain.This can help you manage food cravings by balancing the chemical and neurotransmitter levels of our brain, so you don’t have the same urge to grab those bagel bites at midnight.


When you take BCAAS, your body gets energy directly from them rather than from muscle you already have resulting in more muscle mass. In a nutshell, they help you get more out of your workouts and your recovery.


When to Take BCAAs


BCAAs are recommended for strength and interval training rather than a quick cardio sesh on the elliptical. Why? When you’re strength training, you’re creating mini tears in each muscle fiber. When these fibers repair and regrow, protein and BCAAs facilitate that process. Unless your doing sprints during your cardio based workouts, BCAAS are typically not as effective for cardio workouts.


Trainers and nutritionists alike recommend BCAAs at different times of the day including the morning, afternoon, before working out and after working out. Unlike certain supplements, there’s more flexibility to finding out when BCAAs help and benefit you the most. Taking your branched-chain amino acid supplements depends on what you aspire to get out of them. If you want to prevent fatigue during your workout you can take them before your workout. Some people even take them as the same time as their pre workout.


Another reason you may want to use BCAAs is to combat soreness. If you’re sore for a week every time you take a Megaformer class or your legs feel like jelly for days after basketball, you could benefit from adding the supplement to your daily routine. Adding this to your post-workout routine can tremendously help with recovery.


Branched chain amino acids can take your performance, physique, and fitness to the next level. When you’re searching for BCAAS, look to a reputable company with clean products without many additives.