Let’s talk about Branched Chained Amino Acids, more commonly known as BCAAs. In this article, you’ll find out all about BCAA’s, their composition, the best ratio of BCAA as well as the timings of consumption.
What Are BCAAs?
In the body, there are 2 main types of amino acids: essential and non-essential. Within the 9 essential amino acids that are known to exist there are 3 BCAAs, but this group of amino acids have a set of specific and unique chemical properties. As a whole, the body requires BCAAs for sustaining muscle, maintaining an anabolic environment and sometimes increasing athletics performance through the stimulation of protein synthesis – an important process in muscle growth and recovery.
BCAAs exist as 3 individual compounds: Leucine, Iso-leucine & Valine. Each of these amino acids holds unique properties, with Leucine being a key component. Unlike other amino acids, BCAAs have a unique chemical structure which allows them to be absorbed and metabolized directly in the muscles- rather than the stomach. This means they are more quickly absorbed than any other amino acids.
Why Should I Take BCAAs?
Let’s consider a guy who wants to achieve a lean physique and aspires for the perfect beach body through training and good nutrition. For leaning up, a training program would involve some extensive cardio with a calorie deficit diet – meaning your body is not getting the total amount of calorie it requires to sustain your size. BCAAs can protect you from catabolism, which is when your body breakdowns muscle, as well as fat, for energy.
So if you are cutting and in a calorie deficit then BCAAs are very important to prevent muscle loss. Exercising in a calorie deficit means there are no glycogen stores available for energy, so muscle protein is broken down into amino acids that can be utilized as energy. By supplementing with BCAA’s you can saturate your muscles to provide adequate muscle energy and an anabolic environment.
Many people incorporate cardio into their regimes multiple times a week, both in the mornings and evenings. During cardio, BCAAs can come handy – especially in the case of HIIT cardio routines or steady state cardio.
When performing intense levels of cardio this can often burn fat and muscle too. Incorporating a low-calorie diet and more of cardio will initiate muscle breakdown at a higher rate, which we want to avoid. To counteract this try supplementing with BCAAs, the moment you start your cardio. Add 5g to your shaker and sip on them throughout your cardio regime.
Pre & Post Workout
There are two crucial times to supplement with BCAA’s: Pre- and post-workout. Many pre-workout formulas contain BCAAs. Make sure before hitting the gym you take BCAAs with your pre-workout meal.
Following the gym make sure you consume a further 5-10 g of BCAAs either on their own or within a post workout shake. Many people benefit from supplementing with BCAAs upon waking and just before bed, to promote muscle recovery and growth.
Try to supplement at least 10-20 g of BCAAs daily. BCAAs come in a number of different sources including as pills, powders or within whey protein, such as Impact Whey.
Within whey protein, these amino acids are peptide bound. Being peptide bound still provides the same benefits, but these BCAA’s are thought to be less bioavailable than those found in BCAA supplements. This means they are not absorbed as quickly by muscles in the body. If you are going to purchase a BCAA supplement it is important to consider the Leucine: Isoleucine: Valine ratio which should be at least 2:1:1- with Leucine being a chief muscle recovery component.
For this reason, I would recommend BCAAs from Myprotein, which have this exact ratio.
Best BCAA Supplements
With a Grade A ranking on independent supplement reviewing site Labdoor, you can be sure that this is a quality supplement designed to help promote muscle growth and recovery.
This product contains an optimal 4:1:1 ratio of Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine, which can help to improve your body’s ability to build muscle.
This supplement has been innovated to prevent muscle breakdown, helping you to retain muscle mass.
Take Home Message
BCAAs are essential to reduce the catabolism process and breaking down of cells to release amino acids for fuelling the body. Taking BCAAs reduces muscle breakdown and increases protein synthesis, whilst also providing energy for workouts. BCAAs should be incorporated into your dietary regime and workouts whether your aim is to gain mass or cut.