Bodybuilding and resistance training in general is becoming more and more popular with each passing day, with people of all ages, genders, shapes, and sizes, opting to swap the TV remote or games controller for a set of dumbbells or barbells instead. With muscle bound action movie stars such as The Rock, Vin Diesel, Hugh Jackman, and arguably the man who started it all, Arnold Schwarzenegger gracing TV and movie theatre screens all over the world, people young and old are becoming inspired to hit the gym and improve their health and fitness in general. When it comes to exercising and working out, you simply cannot underestimate the importance of sports supplements. When used in conjunction with an intelligent training and diet program, sports supplements can really help provide you with that much needed missing edge and can help to make you and your progress that little bit better. Here we’ll be talking about the importance of BCAA’s and finding out exactly what they are, and when you should be taking them.
So, what are BCAA’s?
BCAA’s or Branched Chain Amino Acids, to go by their full names, are actually made up of a combination of three amino acids. These are: Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. There are close to 30 different amino acids, some are produced naturally by the body, and others have to be consumed from foods or supplements. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein molecules and as such, are absolutely essential for the growth and repair of muscle tissue. Leucine is an essential amino acid, which means that it cannot be produced by the body and so has to be consumed. This is the only amino acid that directly contributes towards protein synthesis in the body. Isoleucine and valine are also essential amino acids, and play crucial roles in the metabolism of fat, and energy productions. Combine all three together, and you have perfect conditions for building lean muscle and burning fat in the process, which is why athletes and bodybuilders tend to hold these BCAA’s in such high regard. Other benefits of BCAA’s include:
• Reduced muscle soreness following a workout
• Increased rate of post-workout recovery
• Improved mental focus
• Prevention of the breakdown of muscle cells and tissue
• They trigger protein synthesis
• Increased muscle mass
• Reduced body fat levels
• Increased energy production
When should they be consumed?
As BCAA’s play such crucial roles in muscle growth and recovery, numerous studies have found that the optimal time to consume BCAA’s is both Intra (during) and post-workout. Consuming them intra workout helps keep energy levels topped up and helps prevent the body from falling into a catabolic state by utilising all of the available energy too quickly. Consuming them post-workout is essential because following your workout, the muscles are anabolically primed for maximum nutrient absorption for around one hour, this is known as the “anabolic window” consuming BCAA’s with a post-workout whey protein shake will ensure that your muscles get absolutely everything that they need in order to grow and repair themselves following your workout. You don’t build muscle whilst exercising, you destroy muscle whilst exercising, you build muscle when you rest and recover, providing you have all of the essential nutrients. BCAA’s ensure your body has absolutely everything it needs in order to synthesise new muscle tissue, and it helps it to get started almost immediately.