Why You Should Take BCAAs


BCAA stands for “branched-chain amino acid.” Examples of BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine, and valine, these make up 35% of the amino acids present in your muscles. BCAAs bypass the hepatic metabolism, meaning they are directly involved in muscle performance.

Their primary role is supplying nitrogen for the synthesis of other amino acids such as alanine and glutamine. Through this process, these compounds are directly involved in the anti-catabolic processes that take place in the muscles.

The Advantages Of Taking BCAAs

The utilization of BCAAs offers many advantages, although it is important to note that their effect is maximized when your muscles are in a catabolic state. For example, it allows for greater stimulation of protein synthesis and increased muscle strength due to limiting the amount of tryptophan in the brain.

Tryptophan is an amino acid which enters the brain in the last stages of physical activity and converts itself into serotonin, a neurotransmitter which imparts fatigue. By limiting the amount of tryptophan, you’ll feel less fatigue in the final stages of your workout. BCAAs can also lessen the amount of ammonia in your organism (ammonia is a very toxic substance that, among other things, prevents protein synthesis to a degree).

You’ll also have more energy during workouts due to the formation of alanine, which is an important element in gluconeogenesis (or the formation of glucose) in the liver. Branched-chain amino acids also affect the synthesis of glutamine. Administering BCAAs can strengthen your immune system and positively impact your recovery time, as well as prevent muscle loss during strict low-calorie diets.

When Should You Take BCAAs?

You can choose to take BCAAs before or after a workout, or in the middle of the workout itself. Taking them before your workout can trigger anabolic hormones such as testosterone and growth hormone, which is great for muscle growth. The tryptophan-limiting effect is also accomplished this way. Taking them in the middle of the workout decreases protein degradation that occurs during very intense exercises.

Taking BCAAs after a workout is a great way to restore your energy reserves and increase protein synthesis, and, therefore, decrease catabolism. A useful rule of thumb is to take 1g of BCAAs per 20lbs of your body mass, so if you weigh, for example, 160lbs, you should take no more than 8g.

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