What are the BCAA Benefits?
BCAAs, short for branched-chain amino acids, have become a hot topic in the bodybuilding world, but what are they and what can they do for you?
Amino Acids are essentially the building blocks for protein, which help to maintain muscle mass and prevent muscle tissue tearing. There are nine essential amino acids, and they are needed for us to function normally. Of these, three are BCAAs; They are: valine, leucine and isoleucine and they make up around 35% of our muscle mass which is why the BCAA benefits can show considerable improvements to muscle growth.
Trigger protein synthesis
Protein synthesis is a term used to describe muscle growth. BCAAs (especially leucine) stimulate muscle synthesis, and it is suggested that it does so more than full proteins. They may also increase the capacity for protein synthesis by stimulating the cellular machinery responsible for carrying out the process of protein synthesis.
Supplementing with BCAAs can prevent your body going into a negative nitrogen balance after intense exercise, helping you to make a faster recovery.
Supply muscle energy
They also stimulate insulin production, the anabolic hormone. Insulin is essential for energy for the body, as it allows both blood sugar and amino acids to be utilised by the muscles. Supplying the muscles with “fuel” means that they can perform better and won’t tire as easily. Not to be used as a substitute for a balanced and varied diet, for more information check out what to eat before a workout and our take on what the what to eat post workout as well to complement the Benefits that BCAAs can provide.
Preserve lean mass
Our bodies are put into catabolic condition when we do intense weight training, where our glycine stores are depleted. BCAAs are there to act as an energy source, preventing muscle breakdown. This can allow you to get “ripped” or lose weight whilst decreasing the amount of muscle lost. In a study on rats, BCAAs were better at preventing muscle atrophy than the placebo group.
Maintain muscle mass as you age:
BCAAs may be beneficial for people who have hit a plateau in their gains due to age. When you turn 35, protein synthesis slows down. If you take BCAAs, they have been shown to increase and prolong the building of protein as the older muscle still responds to amino acids, especially BCAAs. In fact, Leucine has been shown to increase synthesis by up to 145% after strength training. This should always be taken in conjunction with other BCAA’s and a ratio of 40% leucine was shown to be most effective.
BCAAs may actually help you to exercise for longer, as studies show that supplementation can increase endurance capacity.
They are good at preventing fatigue, as participants who took 300mg of BCAA for 3 days had 17.2% more resistance to fatigue than the placebo group did.
They can also allow our bodies to burn more fat, as they can be used to maintain levels of ATP when our bodies are using up glycogen;in regards to endurance, the BCAA benefits show significant improvements.
Contribute towards a healthy immune system
Maximising gains takes more than just preventing muscle loss. When you train, you are putting immense amounts of stress on your body. A strong immune system is needed in order to tolerate this stress, otherwise you may fall ill which can compromise progress in the gym.
Luckily, BCAAs are great for supporting our immune system. This is partly because the BCAAs are essential, and taking them in supplement form will prevent any deficiency. This can help your body stay healthy and strong. Incorporate these with taking cod liver oil and glucosamine for added benefit to the immune system, and to the joints as well.
BCAAs may increase levels of testosterone, if taken after resistance training; your body undergoes hormonal changes naturally, which is what you want in order to maximise results. Taking protein supplements have been shown to increase strength, and leucine may be especially effective. The BCAA benefits to gains and strength are natural and healthy.
Leucine was shown to increase strength by 31% in all exercises undertaken by young men. The reason behind this is simple: protein adds to muscle growth, and protein is constructed from long strands of units which are amino acids.
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