BCAA is the abbreviation for “Branch Chain Amino Acids” which means “branched chain amino acids”. They are among the most important supplements for any sports nutrition program.
Did you know that more than 20 amino acids are needed to build muscle and maintain important vital functions? Your body can produce almost all amino acids. Except for 8 to 10 that should be obtained through diet or supplementation, which are called “essential amino acids.”
Among the essential amino acids, we have 3 of them that are called BCAAs:
Benefits of BCAA’s:
- Builds cells
- Repairs tissues
- Form antibodies
- Part of the hormonal and enzymatic system
- Form RNA and DNA
- Carry oxygen throughout the body.
How do BCAAs work?
During heavy weight training, the body is usually in a highly catabolic state. At that point, if there are no nutrients needed to fuel your body during training, it begins to “steal” the amino acids that are present in your muscles to meet your energy needs. The result of this is that you end up losing muscle mass.
The signal for the body to stop protein synthesis in the muscles and begin to enter the catabolic state is precisely the release of these “stolen” BCAA’s for energy.
Taking branched-chain amino acids (BCAA’s) as a supplement, causes this signal to not be given. Consequently the muscles continue to synthesize proteins and not fall into catabolism.
In a more technical way, BCAA’s act as nitrogen transporters, which helps muscles to synthesize other amino acids needed to promote muscle growth. They combine simpler amino acids to form a more complex muscle tissue. In doing so, BCAA’s stimulate the production of insulin, whose main function is to allow blood sugar to be absorbed by the muscle cells and used as a source of energy. This production of insulin causes amino acids to penetrate more easily into muscle cells, so they can serve as a raw material for muscle building.
That’s how everything is connected!
How much and when should you take the BCAAs?
Research indicates that with 4-8 grams of BCAA before intense exercise and 4-8 grams later, you can optimize your results. Smaller amounts are also effective, for better performance and faster recovery, a larger dosage will be required for greater efficiency.
Taking BCAA’s immediately before or during an intense workout with weights or an aerobic workout will improve your results and your performance. If used along with post-workout nutrition or a recovery drink will help in faster BCAA replacement in muscles, accelerating muscle recovery and preventing over training.
Anyone who wants to gain more muscle or more energy naturally, without any side effects, should seriously consider BCAA intake.