When it comes to building muscle, improving strength and enhancing recovery BCAA’s are one of the most effective yet overlooked supplements on the market today.
I started using BCAA’s about 15 years ago when they were only available in tablets as big as your thumb. Today with the availability of high quality tasty flavors that are actually enjoyable to drink and very price effective it makes BCAA’s fall into the “must have” supplement category.
What Are BCAA’s?
BCAA’s are known as “Branch Chain Amioi Acids” are considered the power house aminos for building muscle and improving recovery.
These 3 amino acids that make up BCAA”s are :
These Amino Acids are considered “Essential Amino Acids” as they human body can not make them.
The amino acids regarded as essential for humans are phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and histidine
There are “Essential Amino Acids”, there are “Essential Fats”, there are however no “Essential Carbohydrates”.
Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body. You must get them from complete protein foods or combinations of incomplete vegetable foods. There are 9 essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, and valine. Your body can make non-essential amino acids by itself from vitamins and other amino acids.
The term “non-essential” can be misleading since all amino acids are essential for proper metabolism and certain non-essential amino acids, such as glutamine, become very essential. The 13 non-essential amino acids are alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, cysteine, cystine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, hydroxyproline, proline, serine, & tyrosine.
The essential branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) are of special importance for athletes because they are metabolized in the muscle, rather than in the liver. Here’s how this works: After digestion once protein is broken down into individual amino acids these aminos can either be used to build new proteins or be burned as fuel to produce energy.
Now that all that’s out of the way lets get into the important stuff. How BCAA’s can help you build muscle, recover faster and lift HeavyWeights.
Top 5 Benefits Of BCAA’s
1. BCAA’s Improve Protein Synthesis
BCAA’s trigger protein synthesis (aka building/repairing muscle) which is very anabolic in the body. Add on top of that resistance training which stresses the body and the process of breaking down muscle tissue and repairing muscle tissue is enhanced greatly.
In the gym it’s easy to tear down muscle it’s the building back up process that’s important.
BCAA’s are very valuable when it comes to muscle recovery from the gym but also in life.
Something as simple as BCAA’s can help you preserve muscle, improve recovery, reduce fatigue and improve lean body mass.
The Take Away => BCAA’s Help Build Muscle & Improve Recovery, FAST
2. BCAA’s Boost Your Immune System
Every time you train, every time you stress, every time you fight off something you have to rely on your immune system, day in and day out.
Lifting weights and training is good for the body, but it’s also a STRESS on the body. You get stronger by adapting but the training is a stress, therefore you want a strong immune system to handle it.
Because the EAA’s (Essential Amino Acids) can not be produced by the body the body needs this as priority #1. Without these you will not maintain a health immune system.
One study performed by the Laboratory of Human Nutrition for Athletes suggested that taking branched chain amino acids around exercise also decreased the immune system response that is demonstrated.
The Take Away => Use BCAA’s To Keep A Healthy Strong Immune System
3. BCAA’s Support Fat Loss
BCAA”s can help you burn fat… say what…..
Yes it’s true BCAA’s can help you burn fat while helping you preserve muscle.
Surveys show that people with a higher BCAA intake in their diets have less body fat, more muscle, and better body composition. For example, a large study of 4,429 subjects found that those with higher BCAA intake were the slimmest and had significantly less chance of being overweight compared to those with lower BCAA intake.
The Take Away => The higher amount of BCAA’s in your diet the better your body composition will be (of both lean muscle and fat loss)
#4 BCAA’s Improve Strength
When we train we don;t want to just maintain muscle and strength we should always be trying to improve it. The goal is to always stress the body, adapt, and come back stronger.
BCAA’s can help improve strength along with improving recovery, immune system health and fat loss.
A study of untrained young men taking 4 g/day of leucine gained more strength than a placebo group after 12 weeks of training. The leucine group increased strength by an average of 31 percent more on all exercises compared to the placebo group.
A recent large-scale analysis of training studies showed that protein supplementation led to greater increases in leg press strength to the tune of an average of 13.5 kg. This review included a variety of protein sources, but all had a high content of BCAA’s even though the actual proportions of amino acids varied.
This evidence suggests a diet rich in amino acids from multiple sources including meat, eggs, protein powders, and BCAA supplements for maximizing strength results from training.
The Take Away => BCAA’s will help with Strength. Add in Creatine and you have an effective combo for strength and power.
#5 BCAA’s Reduce DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).
You know the next two days after leg days when you dread the stairs or having to go to the washroom, well that can be greatly reduce with using BCAA’s pre/peri/post training.
Most people tend to think that being sore is a good thing, in actuality you want minimal soreness. The more sore you get the more you are not recovering fast enough and BCAA’s can help with recovery.
You should feel worked after your workout but not destroyed.
The faster you can recover the harder and better you can hit your next training session. If after leg day you need three days off you over did your workout and you under fed your body the protein and carbs it needed to recover and reduce inflammation.
The Take Away => Drink BCAA’s Pre/Peri/Post Workout To Reduce Muscle Soreness & Improve Recovery
Coach Rob’s BCAA Recommendations:
If you live in the USA I highly recommend getting your BCAA’s Online here.
If you enjoyed this blog post and want to know the best supplements you should use download our Top 5 Supplements For Women Report.
Atamian, S. et al. (1979). Infusion of the branched chain amino acids in postoperative patients: Anticatabolic Properties. Annals of Surgery Journal. Vol 190(1):18-23.
Bacurau, R.F.P. et al. (2002). Branched-chain amino acid supplementation and the immune response of long distance athletes. Nutrition; Vol 18:Issue 5 (376-379).
Gualano, A, et al. Branched-Chain Amino Acids Supplementation Enhances Exercise Capacity and Lipid Oxidation During Endurance Exercise After Muscle Glycogen Depletion. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness. 2011.51(5), 82-88.
Rob King is a Competitive PowerLifter, Coach and Writer.