One of my favorite supplements that assists me with building muscle and losing weight are BCAA’s or branched chained amino acids. Though it sounds technical, BCAA’s are basically a protein supplement broken down even further into what is called the building blocks.
What are BCAA’s in general? BCAA’s are essential amino acid which consists of Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. Unfortunately, our body is unable to produce them. However, there are many food choices that have a high volume count of BCAA in them. Those food choices just so happen to be rich in protein too, examples of it would include but not limited to beef, turkey, chicken breast, nuts, eggs, salmon and tuna.
Though they are found in most protein sources, when you are working out or if you have an active lifestyle, these foods will never be enough to accumulate what your body needs for it to have a positive effect towards your goal in regards to what BCAA’s do.
What does it do to your body? BCAA’s have a great influence and effect on your muscles. It has the same function as your ordinary protein – building muscles, repair of muscles – the only difference is, it does not go through your liver. It will go directly to your muscles and other tissues, making the effect intense.
When should you take it? Depending on your goal, you may take it pre, intra or post workout. So let’s discuss its role according to which time you are going to take it.
Before workout – Studies have shown that taking BCAA’s prior to working out will help reduce muscle soreness and speed up muscle recovery. BCAA’s will also serve as your fuel througout the workout. I also reccommend taking BCAA’s first thing in the morning for those who often do fasted cardio. It will help boost your energy to endure longer hours of working out.
Intra workout- During exercise, serotonin gives a signal to the brain that the body is fatigued. This would cause a feeling of weakness, reduction of muscle strength and workout endurance. BCAA’s delay fatigue by lowering the amount of serotonin entering your brain. Serotonin is responsible for mental exhaustion. The introduction of BCAA’s during a workout will not only delay fatigue, but will also keep you sharp and alert.
Post workout – During exercise fats and muscles are being broken down. Taking BCAA’s post workout will help recover the muscles, and will actually have the same benefits as to BCAA’s pre-workout.
My Expert Opinion - There are two crucial times to take BCAA’s, I suggest taking them in the morning during cardio to preserve muscle mass as well as pre/intra workout to replenish your body and keep you sharp throughout your workout.
There are several forms of BCAA in the market, but I prefer the powdered form, for of course, it is palatable, more refreshing, and mixes well with my other supplements.
Remember that your diet comes first and supplements are used for supplementing what you’re not getting through whole foods. Mind what you eat, and eat a balanced diet. BCAA’s are recommended for people who are looking to preserve muscle mass, gain more muscle, or lose weight. None of this will happen without a sound diet.
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