If you’re trying to improve your health, fitness, and physique by working out regularly and intensely then first you must ensure that you have a well-structured training program in place, and that your diet is also right on point. Training and nutrition go hand in hand with one another and once you get a handle on your meal schedule, then you may want to think about sports supplementation. The health and sport supplement industry is literally worth billions upon billions and has been helping keen athletes and gym-goers all over the world to improve their physiques and athletic performances for decades upon decades. BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acid) supplements are especially popular and beneficial, in fact they are the third most popular form of sports supplement, ranked only behind whey protein and creatine.
What are BCAA’s? – BCAA supplements are actually made up of three separate amino acids. These are:
These three amino acids are known as essential amino acids, which means that the body requires them, but is not able to synthesise them internally, as it does with other amino acids. BCAA’s get their name because on their molecular levels they actually have forked shaped protrusions which resemble the branches found commonly on trees. These amino acids are so incredibly beneficial because they are the main drivers responsible for muscle growth and recovery following intense exertion and they are vital for adequate protein synthesis to take place, which is when the body is able to manufacture new and stronger muscle proteins. BCAA’s actually make up around 33% of all amino acids found within our muscle tissue.
So why are they so beneficial? – The reason why BCAA’s are so incredibly beneficial when compared with other amino acids, all comes down to our metabolisms. All other amino acids when ingested or synthesised, actually first make their way into the liver, where they are then metabolised and broken down, allowing the body to extract the goodness necessary for our cells and our muscles. The problem is that during this metabolism process in the liver, by the time the liver has finished, a good portion of the goodness and nutrients found within the amino acids, have actually been destroyed. BCAA’s are so incredibly beneficial because once ingested, they bypass the liver altogether, and make their way directly into the muscles. Once in the muscles, these aminos are oxidized and are used as fuel to help muscles function, to grow, and repair themselves.
When is the best time to consume them? – Studies have found that the best time to consume BCAA’s is both intra, and post-workout. The reason for consuming them intra-workout is that they help to fuel the muscles whilst we exercise, helping to prevent the build up of lactic acid which can cause muscle cramps and fatigue. The reason for consuming them post-workout, is that the muscles are so anabolically primed for absorbing nutrients, which means that they can immediately absorb the nutrients required for the growth and repair of their cells. In simple terms, the cells in the muscles have now expanded and can absorb more BCAA’s, allowing them to begin healing and rebuilding damaged muscle tissue almost immediately. On non training days, just one simple serving of BCAA’s per day, usually before bed will be absolutely fine.