You may have noticed BCAAs available online, or being consumed by your fellow gym goers. But what are BCAAs, and how can they help you reach your goals?
Branched-chain amino acids are the essential amino acids valine, isoleucine, and leucine. These amino acids are not produced naturally in the body, and so must be consumed in order to reap their benefits.
These BCAAs occur in lean proteins such as chicken, fish and in protein-rich lentils. They’re available in powder and capsule form for easy convenient intake. BCAAs in supplement form reach the bloodstream much quicker and so are more appropriate pre-workout.
What do BCAAs do?
BCAAs a blend of key amino acids. They should make up 40% of your recommended intake of all nine essential amino acids.
The structure of BCAAs (“branched-chain”) makes it easier for the body to get energy from each amino acid during exercise. The more you have in your muscles, the more energy you will be able to use from them. This helps to prevent muscle loss and breakdown
Benefits of BCAA for weight loss
BCAAs are very popular among gym goers looking to lose weight whilst keeping a lean muscular physique. But how can they help?
Reduce sugar cravings and binges
You can help to regulate your glucose and blood sugar levels by ensuring you maintain a good level of BCAAs. They encourage the bulk of your blood sugar production during exercise when present in the body, and so are very useful for those working out whilst on a limited calorie diet.
The liver continually releases BCAAs that are available to keep blood sugar steady and manageable. This will help to stop a dip in blood sugar that will leave you craving a quick fix from sugary or highly processed foods and drinks.
Help you exercise harder and longer to burn more fat
In the same way that BCAAs help to prevent cravings, their blood sugar regulation helps to maximize your workouts. In ensuring that your muscles get plentiful energy, easily converted from the BCAAs can fuel your performance to ensure you are reaching your potential.
By regulating the blood sugar, your body will be able to keep your level of effort for a long period of time. Rather than experiencing a flash of power and ability, you will be able to perform sustainably to burn a greater amount of fat.
BCAAs also lower the levels of serotonin in your body. This helps to keep your brain feeling awake and ready to focus on your training.
Gets rid of muscle soreness so you can train more
BCAAs encourage protein synthesis – the creation of muscle cells and mass. They help to maintain and grow muscles, quickening the process of tearing and gaining muscle that causes soreness.
BCAAs also help to increase the growth hormones in the body, helping to maintain cortisol and testosterone that will also aid the body to quickly get over muscle soreness.
This is great news after being able to train harder and longer – you don’t have to worry that in maximizing your workout you will be maximizing your aches the day after.
Enables you to maintain muscle mass and lose fat
Studies have shown that BCAAs actively work to prevent muscle loss. This is great for those undergoing a cutting or weight loss phase of their fitness journey. Often, when losing fat, a portion of muscle mass is sacrificed due to restricted calorie intake and dedicating more time to cardio than lifting. However, BCAAs have been shown to prevent muscle loss for periods even when the muscles were entirely immobile.
So you can shred fat without fearing you’ll undo all your hard earned gains.
How to take BCAAs for weight loss
Combine BCAAs with a gruelling exercise regime to really help to maximize your results. The term “weight loss” is a little misleading because you will not be losing the lean muscle weight you might if you went without the BCAAs. However, your fat loss results will certainly be improved.
What is the best time to take BCAAs for weight loss?
Taking your BCAAs pre-workout will minimize muscle tiredness and help to maintain muscle when doing cardio like running, swimming or cycling. It’s also very useful for lower weight, higher rep workouts. This will ensure you can burn fat without undoing your previous muscle building.
To really help avoid fatigue, top up your BCAAs during your workout. This will give you boosts of energy and help to block the influence of relaxing serotonin so you can focus more intensely on your workout.
If you choose to take your BCAAs after your gym session, you will be helping the body absorb other amino acids into your muscles. This will help with their maintenance, growth and recovery
Take home message
BCAAs are a very useful supplement to have in your workout regime. They naturally help to maximize your results. You can enjoy powerful and lengthy workouts even while on a calorie restricted diet with the help of BCAAs. Plus, you won’t lose those all-important gains.
BCAAs are the gym goers secret weapon for creating a lean, muscular shape.