So What are BCAAs?
BCAAs stands from Branched-Chain Amino Acids. These are the main building blocks of protein which in turn has a result on building muscle. They help to prevent fatigue and maintain muscle mass and strength during workouts and times when physical stress is applied to the body (during an intense workout for example). The BCAAs – leucine, isoleucine and valine are three of the essential amino acids which make up BCAAs. The term “branched chain” refers to the unique structure of these chemicals. Your body cannot produce this chain, and must be obtained through nutrition. The combination of these amino acids makes up about 1/3rd of skeletal muscle in the human body (That’s why these are “essential” amino acids). If you would like to know the specifics – check out the wiki page.
What do BCAAs do?
BCAAs are quite unique compared to most things consumed daily where by they do not feed through the liver, and instead completely bypass the liver and are transported directly to your muscles. When they reach and enter the muscle, they play an important role in transforming the human body in to a muscle building machine as they manipulate various factors of muscle metabolism.
As well as providing an important part in protein synthesis, BCAAs also give a boost of energy during heavy and intense weight lifting, help to maintain muscle mass/tissue, and can help fight through mental barriers to battle on through your strenuous workouts. BCAAs can also be used as fuel to support your muscles through long grueling workouts.
How do BCAAs prevent muscle loss?
BCAAs help to prevent muscle loss by reducing protein breakdown in your muscles (catabolism) by stimulating the release of insulin. Insulin has proven to play an important part in prevent the breakdown of muscle fibers following periods of physical stress applied to the body, such as weight lifting, running, swimming etc – thereby preventing muscle loss. BCAAs are particularly useful when dieting to try and maintain as much muscle mass as possible when stripping away your body fat.
How do BCAAs help muscle growth?
BCAAs have anabolic abilities (muscle building) as they influence various factors which fire up protein synthesis within your body. They essential turn your body into a muscle building machine by switching it in to an anabolic state – then using the available amino acids to build protein and some dense muscle tissue. To get the best results you must make sure you are having the required amount of protein within your daily diet along with your intake of BCAAs – and your body will take full advantage.
Who, How, When?
So who should be taking BCAAs? Anybody who weight trains regularly and fairly seriously should take or consider taking BCAAs – bodybuilders, power lifters, strong men as well as those who regularly participate in endurance type sports such as swimming or cycling will also benefit from this supplement.
How do I get BCAAs? Branched Chain Amino Acids can be obtained through most protein sources (red meat is usually the best source). The problem here is that the amount of BCAAs present is very little in proportion to what you eat, so you would need to eat a hell of a lot to get a good amount – that is why it is better to take them in the form of supplementation. You can purchase BCAA powders or tabs, and it is even present in a lot of protein powder blends and pre-workout formulas. (Recommendation: If you are going to buy the powdered stuff, I would make sure you get a flavoured version as the plain stuff is a quite bitter to the taste).
When should I take BCAAs and how much should I take? The great thing about BCAAs is that they can be taking at any time throughout the day – usually best consumed on an empty stomach. The most beneficial and common times to take BCAAs is before a workout, and then after the workout. A common recommended dose (and quite a small amount at that) is between 7-10 grams per day which has been shown to trigger protein synthesis within the body. Although more can definitely be taken.
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