BCAAsPosted: February 21, 2013
Usually I don’t eat right away after my workouts, but yesterday morning, as soon as I got home, I was starving. I knew I wouldn’t have time to eat my full breakfast, but I did devour another of these little mini Chobani’s to hold me over for a while.
Alongside the yogurt, I drank my BCAAs – in blue raspberry flavor.
I started taking BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) a few weeks ago, after reading and hearing a lot about them. Amino acids are known most simply as the building blocks of protein; proteins must be broken down into amino acids before the body can use them to build or repair tissue, or as energy. There are eight essential amino acids that the body cannot manufacture (or cannot manufacture in sufficient amounts), so we must instead get them through the foods we eat, like meats, fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, and supplements.
According to this very informative article, the three essential amino acids classified as BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) comprise roughly a third of the aminos within muscle tissue, so if muscle growth is your goal, BCAAs are really important.
Besides that, there are many other benefits to taking in BCAAs, including:
- BCAAs, unlike most other amino acids, are metabolized within muscle tissue, allowing them to be oxidized (used as energy) by muscle cells to produce energy in the form of ATP, the primary source of energy that fuels muscle contraction and allows you to lift weights.
- BCAAs can enhance fat oxidation in glycogen-depleted subjects, allowing people to train harder for longer without fatigue, due to the higher energy demands being met. BCAAs spare glycogen during training and lead to faster recovery. Found as stored carbohydrates in muscle tissue and the liver, glycogen is the primary fuel source for muscles engaged in high intensity exercise, so glycogen availability and preservation is vitally important if you want to train hard for longer periods of time.
- BCAAs ability to spare glycogen and increase insulin sensitivity speeds up the results of a fat loss plan. On a calorie-restricted (fat loss) plan, muscle tissue can easily be lost, and the positive effects that BCAAs have on muscle growth also serve to protect muscle during these periods.
Clearly, BCAAs can do a lot to help you in pursuit of your fitness goals. Just don’t do what I do and (constantly) get them all over yourself while your mixing up your drink! Woops.
I’ve been taking this kind, and although I didn’t like the taste at first, it’s definitely been growing on me. There are all kinds of guidelines out there about when, how much, and how often to take them, as well as what to look for when choosing from the various options out there, so if you’re looking for more information, do a little Googling before you buy one. I take one scoop mixed with a glass of water after my workouts every day – gotta protect that muscle!
Do you take BCAAs or any other supplements?
What’s your favorite brand/flavor?