If there’s one question that seems to always crop up when discussing supplements and stacks, it’s whether or not they are really worth it or even effective. That being said, BCAAs usually comes into the spotlight under such circumstances. It’s a fair question considering the multitude of supplements that are being developed each year and the even larger number of supplement brands that are now on the market. Scepticism is bound to rear its “should I really invest my money in this?” head; however, the key to understanding whether BCAAs are right for you is first by defining your fitness goals and then understanding the role that BCAAs play in achieving them. Read on to learn the ABCs of your BCAAs.
What are BCAAs?
Amino acids are known as the building blocks of protein, and hence the building blocks of building muscle. The acronym BCAAs stands for Branched-chain Amino Acids which refers to the molecular structure of these essential amino acids. BCAAs include leucine, isoleucine and valine. They can be sourced from supplements, meat, dairy products and even legumes. According to Anna Sward, creator of Protein Pow, if you are looking to maximise the quality of your workout then BCAAs deserve consideration.
The role of BCAAs
According to Layne Norton, Ph.D., BCAAs are particularly effective at helping you maintaining muscle mass while in a caloric deficit. This means that if you’re fond of intermittent fasting then BCAAs are a great way to reduce muscle breakdown and even maintain your energy levels when you’re in a fasted state.
Furthermore, a study (Stoppani et al, 2009) that assessed the effects of BCAAs on individuals engaging in resistance-training found that it encouraged increases lean mass, muscle strength and fat loss.
Leucine is prolific at encouraging muscle growth and stimulates protein synthesis.
Isoleucine is broken down for energy within the muscle tissue and stimulates glucose uptake.
Valine helps to stimulate your central nervous system, and plays a key role in maintaining proper mental functioning.
The benefits of BCAAs
Jim Stoppani, fitness expert and holder of a doctorate in exercise physiology outlines some key benefits of adding BCAAs to your supplementation stack:
They promote muscle gains
BCAAs fulfil the role of being building blocks for protein, and when ingested get direct access to tissues like muscle fibres. Here they promote protein synthesis, and ultimately muscle growth. What’s more, they help boost levels of insulin which may further enhance protein synthesis. BCAAs can also boost your GH (growth hormone) levels which can increase your potential for packing on muscle and reducing fat loss. Last but not least, BCAAs may lower levels of cortisol. This is important as cortisol is a catabolic hormone that stimulates muscle breakdown and hinders testosterone.
Helps support fat loss
BCAAs are effective at helping you reduce your BFP (Body Fat Percentage) because leucine helps curb hunger while still stimulating energy expenditure that helps burn off body fat. In addition to this, isoleucine is capable of activating special receptors (PPAR) that enhance fat burning and discourage fat storage.
BCAAs boost energy reduce muscle fatigue
Taking BCAAs will help you not only delay muscle fatigue by providing you with the energy to prolong your workouts but will also help you maintain high levels of intensity throughout your resistance training.
BCAAs boost your immune system
Nothing can be as irritating as not being able to hit the gym because you’ve come down with a cold or have a case of the man flu. BCAAs have been proven to enhance and support efficient immune function (Calder PC., 2006) and so will not only help you grow in the gym but will make sure you can make the trip there too.
Stoppani J., Scheett T., Pena J., Rudolph C, and Charlebois D., Consuming a supplement containing branched-chain amino acids during a resistance-training program increases lean mass, muscle strength and fat loss, J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2009; 6(Suppl 1): P1.
Ready to add BCAAs to your stack? Powerhouse takes great pride in the quality it provides, stocking only the best supplements on the market. We go the extra mile to try and test each product, ensuring it’s right for you and are on hand to offer professional advice. Get in touch today and take a step towards a better you.