BCAAs: What are BCAAs and How do they Work?

With Fitness consciousness on the rise, consumption of supplements is at an all-time high. BCAA or Branched Chain Amino Acid pre-workout supplements feature in the top 10 must-haves for Bodybuilders and weight lifters. Here’s why.

What are BCAAs?

Branched Chain Amino Acids or BCAAs as they are known, contain three essential Amino Acids – Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. The primary function of these acids being the production of energy; these are commonly used supplements to aid muscle growth and increase performance. These account for a large pool of the Essential Amino Acids present in our body- about 35-40%.

What benefits do BCAAs have?

Helping reduce fatigue during exercise-
BCAA might help reduce physical and mental fatigue. A study conducted among college goers in 2013, concluded that BCAAs have a direct influence in decreasing the level of serotonin in the brain, a hormone that is primarily responsible for the feeling of fatigue.

Helping with muscle soreness and repair muscle damage
A way in which the BCAAs help is by lowering the levels of the enzymes Creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase in the blood. The presence of these enzymes signals muscle damage. A study conducted in 2000 concluded that BCAA might have a role to play in decreasing the muscle soreness and reducing muscle damage.

Increasing muscle mass
Studies have established that BCAAs activate enzymes that are responsible for muscle building. Supplementing your diet with BCAA powder with a higher concentration of Leucine than Isoleucine and Valine have been found to increase muscles mass.

Aiding weight loss
BCAAs have been found to prevent weight gain and aid in fat loss. People attempting to lose weight might want to opt for a BCAA powder to help get rid the body of unwanted and excess fats more effectively.

Reducing blood sugar levels
BCAAs have been found to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels in studies conducted on Animals and cells. Further studies are still needed to establish their efficacies in humans.

Reducing complications in Liver disease
They might even be beneficial for complications resulting from Liver failure. BCAA supplements are shown to improve liver function, reduce complications in patients who have undergone liver surgery.

When should you take BCAAs?

There is a divided opinion on whether BCAAs should be used before or after a workout. Regular gym- goers swear by its effectiveness when taken before a workout. Taking a BCAA pre-workout supplement ensures that your body is building muscle even after your workout. They also help in healing the muscles after a heavy workout due to the leucine. Furthermore, they also help with the resulting muscle soreness.

What is the recommended dosage of BCAA?

An intake of 15-35 grams is generally optimum this pre-workout supplement. It is always advisable to read the label carefully and go along with the manufacturer’s recommendation on the dosage and usage. People often argue that other sources, such as whey proteins and real food, offer similar muscle-building benefits. Though Whey Protein is an excellent source of fast absorbing protein, BCAAs are a more concentrated source. Unlike Whey Protein, the amino acids in BCAA supplements do not have to be broken down before they enter the bloodstream. This increases their efficiency. However, BCAAs alone cannot work wonders. A balanced diet and a proper workout supplemented with BCAA would go a long way in you achieving the perfectly ripped body you’ve always dreamed of.
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