BCAA – Branched Chain Amino Acids
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein as protein is the building block of muscle.
BCAA are three specific amino acids: Leucine, Valine and Isoleucine. They are called “branched chain” because their molecular structure is in a form of chain with branches. They belong in the group of essential amino acids, those aminos which the body cannot produce itself, and must be taken through food.
BCAAs are found in almost every protein source and of course in protein powders. For example, 25 grams of whey protein contains around 5 grams of BCAA. But there is a huge difference in their effect if taken additionally as a supplement. They are like an infusion of concentrated ingredients for muscles. This way the effect of these three amino acids is accentuated. Needles to say, they are not a substitute to a good protein intake, but an addition to it.
Effectiveness depends on you
Supplements lose their effectiveness if you disrupt the hormonal balance in your body. For example, elevated insulin and elevated cortisol will directly hinder your progress no matter what supplements you use. It is very important to know what has a negative and what positive effect on hormones.
Unlike other amino acids, BCAAs, besides being “branched chain”, are the only ones that are directly absorbed in the muscles, while the rest of the amino acids are processed in the liver. It’s estimated that about 30% of muscle mass is composed of BCAA. These amino acids keep the muscle from decomposition and strengthen its growth in the presence of a proper training regime.
BCAAs increase HGH and testosterone secretion and aid fat loss. They are very effective in burning the stubborn fat which is most resilient to nutrition and training, located in the deepest layers of the body. All of this is possible if you don’t disrupt your hormones in other ways.
Each of these three amino acids has specific properties providing excellent results for people who do resistance training:
- Leucine – gives the muscles energy during intensive resistance training. The body needs energy during training. If it doesn’t have sufficient nutrients, the body starts dissolving muscles during training. Leucine prevents this. It stimulates increased muscle growth and increases the production of growth hormones. Stimulates recovery of muscles, skin and bones. Helps in burning the stubborn deep-layered fat (around the waist, around internal organs…).
- Valine – has a great role in muscle growth and supports the immune system. Enables increased energy during training.
- Isoleucine – enables faster muscle recovery after training. Increases energy levels and endurance. Lack of isoleucine can cause headaches, confusion, irritability, depression, fatigue, dizziness.
Forms of BCAA supplements
They exist in powder and pill/capsule form. You need many capsules to get 5 grams of BCAA and these capsules/tablets usually have more additives than powders. Powders, especially if without added flavors and artificial sweeteners are a much better choice. Also price-wise. Pure powders without added flavors can be a bit strange to the taste but taking supplements isn’t meant to be a pleasure to the sense of smell and taste. If someone wants to bench press 100 kg but complains to the bitterness of the taste, give him a lollipop.
The single most effective supplement for building muscle mass, burning fat, increasing strength, is BCAA. There is no natural supplement that is more effective than BCAA. 10-15 grams a day for several months and you’ll see the effects for yourself.
When and how much to take?
By order of importance, 5 grams before bed, 5 grams after training, 5 in the morning after waking up, 5 before training. This doesn’t mean that you have to take 20 grams a day. Depending on your possibilities, consume as many times as you can going according to this sequence.
It is recommended to take it along with your protein shake.
If you would have to limit yourself to a dose of 5 grams daily, it’s best to take it before bed. BCAAs have greatest effect during sleep because they directly help muscle growth which occurs mostly during sleep.
Take a look at the package and the brand. Not all BCAA are equally good. Some of them contain additional substances that can cause hormonal disruption, various allergic reactions. Some products have different BCAA ratios. The best ratio is 2:1:1, which means 50% leucine, 25% valine, 25% isoleucine. Considering a certain BCAA brand? Write us here.