What are BCAAs?
They are branch chain amino acids and they can be found in any complete protein source. Generally, people are speaking of three specific amino acids. They are leucine, isoleucine and valine. These amino acids have been spoke about for decades in the fitness world. However, they come with a bit of a mixed reputation! BCAA supplements are marketed to help improve muscle recovery, build more muscle and strength, and help preserve muscle when dieting. It is an absolute fact that these amino acids are extremely important and are definitely essential to the human body because we can not produce them, and can only consume them. They are also a very important piece in the muscle building and recovery process. There are tons of studies that show a lot of people can benefit from taking them.
Now for the mixed reputation part, these supplement drinks or pills are not the best way to actually get these essential amino acids. ANY whole protein source has these essential BCAAs. For instants, one whole egg will give you about 1.3 grams of branched chain amino acids. So, what does that mean? It means that if you are already consuming a high protein diet consistently, then supplementing with BCAA’s is not necessary. In other words, if you eat enough protein every day then you are already getting more than enough BCAAs. To achieve this, you should be eating a daily protein amount of about 0.70 to 1 gram of protein per pound of your own bodyweight. In my experience a lot of people, unless you track your macros and calories daily or have before, are not great at getting in their recommended daily protein. So, supplementing with BCAAs or drinking protein shakes are a great way to achieve this!
BCAAs in Food:
1. Leucine: whey protein, eggs, and casein AKA all forms of milk (whole, low-fat, skim, buttermilk), butter, margarine, ghee, butter flavorings, yogurt, kefir, and anything containing cheese.
2. Isoleucine: meat, poultry, fish, whey protein, casein, eggs, soy, cottage cheese, milk, cashews
3. Valine: whey protein, casein, egg whites, soy, cheese, milk, cottage cheese
Benefits Of BCAA Supplementation
If you are hitting your recommended protein intake each day then your body is probably getting all the BCAAs that it needs. But considering how beneficial BCAAs are, many athletes, fitness buffs, and regular folks chasing their ideal bodies choose to add a BCAA supplement to make sure they’ve covered all of their bases.
When you’re working out at high intensity, you’re rapidly depleting your body’s stores of nutrients like glycogen and glucose. The release of BCAAs into your body triggers your body to continue synthesizing protein instead of stopping protein synthesis due to the stress of exercise. And protein synthesis is exactly what you want when you’re trying to build and maintain lean muscle.
So if you are looking to lean out and are in a calorie deficit then BCAAs are very important to prevent muscle loss. Whether they are coming from your protein food sources or in the form of supplementation, they are still vital. Exercising in a calorie deficit means there are no glycogen stores available for energy, so muscle protein is broken down into amino acids that can be utilized as energy. By supplementing with BCAA’s you can saturate your muscles to provide adequate muscle energy and an anabolic environment where lean muscle can grow and live.
Let’s consider an average woman who wants to achieve a lean physique and is trying to get ready for bathing suit weather through getting her training on track as well as her nutritional lifestyle. For leaning up, a training program along with being in a calorie deficit is usually the process. This means that your body is getting less than the total amount of calories it thinks it needs or than it was getting previously. With getting the right amount of BCAAs it can protect you from catabolism, which is when your body breakdowns muscle, as well as fat, for energy. So if you are cutting and in a calorie deficit then BCAAs are very important to prevent muscle loss. Exercising in a calorie deficit means there are no glycogen stores available for energy, so muscle protein is broken down into amino acids that can be utilized as energy. By supplementing with BCAA’s you can give your muscles enough energy to remain the same or create an anabolic environment for them to even grow.
So in closing, if you are looking to protect your lean muscle when leaning out then it’s worth considering BCAA supplementation. However, if you are eating plenty of protein, then your BCAA intake is probably already where you need it. If you struggle to hit a high enough protein intake every day with your current nutritional lifestyle, or you often lack the energy to get through (or recover from) your workouts, a BCAA drink might help. Everybody is different, so try it and see if it works for you!
What brands are the best? From trainer stephen
My number one choice is Transparent Labs BCAA with Glutamine. My personal experiences with this product have been nothing, but excellent. I enjoyed the taste (Strawberry Lemonade will always be my Go-To!) and the carefully thought out creation of the product. The effects were reliable and almost guaranteed as well. When it comes to the dosage, quality ingredients, and level of effectiveness, this product will always have my vote above others I have tried. As an added bonus, this BCAA supplement comes with Glutamine and Coconut water powder mixed in. Glutamine helps heal all the tissue in the body and especially helps with those irritated tissues in the digestive tract. The coconut water powder is a highly nutritious superfood that offers a large number of benefits in terms of hydration and anti-inflammatory properties. Combining those two bonuses additives with the perfect number of BCAA dosage is really hard to compete with.
However, another choice that I like with some of the same benefits is Scivation’s XTEND Natural Zero BCAA Powder. It is another all-natural formula that has zero sugar, zero artificial sweeteners/flavors, and zero chemical dyes. I always recommend prioritizing your health and avoiding any products with the use of artificial sweeteners/flavors and dyes. XTEND BCAAs have been the market leader for this supplement for a long time and for good reason. They do constant testing of their products to ensure they are always putting out quality supplements and this product is no different. You cant go wrong with either choice!