BCAAs or Branched Chain Amino Acids refer to essential amino acids (which our body cannot produce) Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine, which constitute one-third of muscle proteins. We need outside BCAA supplements when our body needs them.
Many foods contain BCAAs, albeit in a very miniscule percentage. For example, chicken contains 3 grams of BCAA in 100 grams, an egg has just over 1 gram and 100 grams of lentils have 1 gram.
How BCAA Benefits Bodybuilders
BCAA helps you immensely in the following ways:
- Intense exercising raises serotonin levels which throw up the feeling of fatigue. BCAAs halt serotonin production and delay the fatigue feel.
- When you train muscles injuries happen. Having BCAA before & after training reduces muscle breakdown & soreness, and repairs damaged muscles too!
- BCAAs work in twin-benefit mode: increase rate of fat burn and supports fat loss at the same time.
- BCAA delays the feeling of tiredness of athletes even when they are on a calorie-deficit diet or intermittent fasting (irrespective of any reason). Similarly there are other umpteen benefits you can derive if and only if you use BCAA in the right way.
Mistakes Athletes Commit When Supplementing with BCAA
Athletes have some misconceptions when supplementing with BCAA which prevents them from getting best results.
Mistake #1: Cut down protein intake when taking BCAA
Whey protein does contain some amount of BCAA, but otherwise it has the full spectrum of 20 amino acids, which the BCAAs don't contain. This means, you should not stop your whey protein intake at any cost, and at any time.
Mistake #2: Not Drinking BCAA at the Right Time
Whey protein is your compulsory post-workout supplement because it helps you recover faster. Similarly some supplements should be consumed as pre-workout which improve your energy output.
Similarly, BCAAs should be taken three times: before, in-between and post-workout. There are definite reasons why we advocate their usage.
- Pre-workout stage: Here, you ably preserve the lean muscle mass which can disappear if you are training on an empty stomach (especially to accelerate fat loss).
- In-between workouts stage: Prevents muscle loss and speeds your pace of recovery. This is very critical stage in your exercising. Since BCAAs bypass the liver-route of digestion, they reach directly to the skeletal muscles for use. So now you know, why BCAAs are the most beneficial nutrient
- Post-workout stage: Improves your recovery.
Since BCAAs bypass the usual liver-route of metabolism compared to other nutrients, they are readily available to skeletal muscles for use. Hence the timing of drinking BCAAs is very important.
So now you know why it is important to have BCAA at the right time for maximum performance.
Mistake #3: Not Drinking BCAAs with Water
Muscles need water to grow. Having BCAAs with water helps prevent muscle loss after intense workout and accelerates your pace of recovery.
You should also drink 2-3 glasses of water in addition to the normal 8-10 glasses of water every bodybuilder should have.
Mistake #4: Not choosing the right ratio of BCAAs
The market has BCAAs with different ratio of Leucine-Isoleucine-Valine wherein Leucine builds & repairs and bulking the muscles whereas Isoleucine promotes fat loss and Valine builds endurance. The best ratio which you should select is 4:1:1
Mistake #5: Focusing on taking only BCAAs
Though BCAA is extremely beneficial for building muscles, fat burner and pre-workout supplement also their work simultaneously. It is incorrect not to consume these two while having BCAA.
Pre-workout supplementsgivethe necessary energy boost and you can start your training on a positive note. BCAAs no doubt, helps you with fat loss, but it is not a fat burner in principle because it does not have the thermogenic properties of a fat loss supplement. Hence including a fat burner speeds up your results and get a lean body you are proud of.
Conclusion BCAA is a supplement no one should neglect but it should be had at all three stages of your strenuous exercises: before, in-between and after. Also it should be consumed with water and bodybuilders should make sure, they don't miss whey protein, pre-workout supplement and fat burner for best results.