In the last few years, BCAAs or Branched Chain Amino Acids, have really blown up in the supplement world. Just about every company out there has their own version of these amino acids with their own unique ratios and flavorings.
BCAAs are made up of three different types of amino acids: Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. These make up a large part of the human muscle tissue and is the reason why researchers decided to isolate these essential amino acids from the other 9. Nowadays, you will find many different products with a number of other amino acids and other ingredients but it’s important to note that the main ingredients should always consist of these 3 amino acids. Without them, a product cannot be called a BCAA product.
Can’t I just have regular protein? Yes, you can. In fact, if you are consuming ample amounts of protein from a variety of different sources, you really don’t need to supplement with these. If you have foods like: eggs, meat, chicken and whey on a regular basis, then you should already be getting a good variety of different essential and non-essential amino acids to sustain and promote muscle growth.
BCAA supplementation truly becomes useful when you are in a calorie deficit and/or are unable to get enough forms of protein, especially if you are a vegetarian. It is also an incredibly useful supplement if you are following an Intermittent Fasting lifestyle. A BCAA drink before a fasted workout helps to provide you with energy and also helps to preserve your muscle mass.
Benefits of BCAAs
Unlike some other forms of protein, BCAAs are digested incredibly fast. Valine and Isoleucine are also able to convert in to glucose within the body which helps to improve endurance levels, allowing you to work out for a longer period of time with a considerably less resting period.
Helps maintain muscle
BCAAs are a really helpful tool to maintain muscle mass when you are trying to burn fat. Consuming BCAAs throughout the day ensures that you have enough muscle sparing protein while you are in a calorie deficit. Additionally, Leucine, has been shown in some studies to assist with fat loss without sacrificing muscle tissue.
Researchers have found that individuals who consumed a BCAA drink after a heavy weight lifting session significantly improved their testosterone levels over time. It was noted to be an ‘anabolic hormonal profile change’ which means that the estrogen levels were not affected by the rise in testosterone. The hormonal shift favored a muscle building anabolic environment.