In recent weeks I get a lot of questions from both fitness enthusiasts and professional athletes about BCAA (refers to three amino acids: Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine). For decades BCAA supplements are among the most popular supplements on the market, the benefits of taking them are not one and two. The purpose of today’s article is to answer some of your questions about BCAA so you can make a better choice whether this supplement has a place in your training regime.
What is really behind the abbreviation BCAA?
There are 20 essential amino acids that are actually required for every biochemical process in the body. 9 of these 20 amino acids are essential. The human body cannot manufacture essential amino acids and therefore we must get them from food. Among them are three amino acids known as BCAA:
While the other essential amino acids, for the most part, are used for the construction of biologically active molecules (hormones, etc.), BCAAs actually are the building blocks of body tissues (muscles, organs).
Leucine is the “star” of the trio as directly stimulates the synthesis of muscle protein. Isoleucine does play an important role in regulating blood glucose and the production of haemoglobin. Valine maintains nitrogen balance and stimulates the growth and repair of muscle tissue.
You will find these amino acids mainly in red meat, eggs and dairy products. You can obtain these amino acids through many rich protein foods. However, you can definitely benefit from additional intake in the form of a dietary supplement in some cases.
What are the benefits of taking BCAA?
Support and enhance the synthesis of muscle tissue by the so-called insulinogenic effect which increases the levels of the anabolic hormone insulin. Reduce the breakdown of muscle protein during periods of weight reduction and preserving muscle mass. Improve recovery time after intense workouts. This is particularly important for professional athletes who participate in heavy high volume training. Stimulate the burning of the stubborn “brown” fat in the waist and love handles. Brown fats differ from other body fat in its composition – they are more solid and difficult to remove. They contribute to the decomposition of ammonia which is released as a result of an intense physical activity. Also, slows down the metabolic processes. It can be converted to other amino acids such as alanine and glutamine. Reduce the risk of cancer and liver diseases. Give a feeling of alertness and increase concentration.
What are the best BCAA supplements?
Two groups of people can benefit greatly from BCCA Intake
If your goal is to burn fat but also want to store pure muscle mass.
You train professionally and your objective is to increase muscle mass before the competition. The intake of BCAA will significantly improve your recovery as this will allow you to increase the volume of training.
What is the optimum daily dose?
Many factors influence the daily dose BCAA such as your goals, body weight, age, gender, experience and more. My personal advice is to start with a dose of about 4-8 grams per day and subsequently adjust the intake in whichever gives the best results for you.
What is the best form?
You can buy this supplement in a form of a tablets/capsules and powder. If we make a comparison between them will not find much difference in terms of their effectiveness.
However, I personally prefer BCAA powder simply because it’s more convenient version of me – easier for me to dissolve one teaspoon BCAA powder than to drink 4-8 capsules per day.
At what time of day to take BCAA?
The best time is before, during and after exercise. I personally open one dose BCAA powder and drink it throughout my workout. The alternative option is to take a dose BCAA 15-30 minutes before training and a second dose immediately after training. If you exercise in the morning on an empty stomach take one dose 15-30 minutes before training.
Those who have greater opportunities can take BCAA between meals to speed up the synthesis of muscle protein and burning fat.
Are BCAA supplements safe?
BCAA make up about a third of the essential amino acids in the composition of muscle tissue. It is true that in some rare cases (for metabolic disorders and other diseases) BCAA and waste products of metabolism can reach toxic levels in the body but it is virtually impossible in healthy subjects. In fact, the industry uses BCAA in the treatment of certain neurological and liver diseases.
Based on researches and on my own experience as a fitness trainer BCAA is a good addition to the arrangements of each trainee which targets fat loss, preservation of muscle mass and/or effectively increase of muscle mass.