BCAA. You might have heard these four letters for sure if you have hit the gym or are considering body-building. But what is BCAA, its benefits, and why this craze around it? Well, read carefully, and you will get answers to these and many other questions you have about BCAA.
What is BCAA?
First things first – BCAA stands for Branched-Chain Amino Acids. And when we talk about Amino Acids, muscles automatically come into the picture. Muscles comprise of 75% water and 20% protein.
And proteins are made from roughly 20 different Amino Acids, including BCAAs. In fact, BCAAs are made of leucine, isoleucine and valine, the compounds that make roughly 35% of your body’s muscle protein.
Considering they elementally make up the human muscles, one can easily imagine how vital BCAAs are in building and maintaining muscles.
Why is BCAA essential?
As we mentioned, BCAAs form an important element of our muscles. Therefore, BCAAs are critical to enhancing metabolism as well as promoting cell proliferation. This translates into elevated exercise performance and functional recovery during exercise.
And unlike non-essential amino acids, our body doesn’t make BCAAs- meaning it has to rely on food sources to get its daily dose of BCAAs. In normal circumstances, our routine food intake is enough to suffice our body’s BCAA needs.
However, when doing heavy work out or excessive physical activity, you need additional protein sources to preserve muscle stores and prevent muscle breakdown during the exercise. Enter BCAA supplements.
There are several studies that prove why the athletes and gym-goers rever BCAA so much.
One such research in 2013 highlighted the immense benefits of BCAA. Here are the important ones:
1. Promoting muscle-protein synthesis, i.e. increasing muscle mass
BCAAs have beneficial effects for promoting muscle-protein synthesis.
This is because such supplements contain a higher proportion of leucine than isoleucine and valine, all of which are essential building blocks of muscles. This reportedly results in boosting muscle mass.
Prolonged exercise results in a depleted carbohydrate level, in turn, leading to mobilize fat as an energy source.
However, to improve exercise performance, carbohydrates and amino acids – the source of protein and especially BCAA – are critical. The BCAA supplements bridge this gap.
2. Reducing Exercise-induced Muscle Damage
BCAA plays a major role in decreasing exercise-induced muscle damage.
Muscle damage that results in a delayed onset muscle soreness has the ability to inhibit athletic performance. The soreness usually happens 24-48 h after intensive physical activity.
The concentrations of CK (creatine kinase) and LDH (lactate dehydrogenase), both of which play a crucial role in adjusting the energy metabolism required for muscle movement, are crucial indicators of the levels of damage to muscle and body robustness.
BCAA is known to lower the extent of these enzymes in the blood, improving muscle recovery and providing protection against damage to the muscle.
3. Reducing Muscle Fatigue
BCAA has been proven to reduce Muscle Fatigue.
A 2013 research about the effects of BCAAs during endurance exercises concluded by saying that the BCAAs resulted in reduced muscle fatigue. BCAAs enhance metabolism, promoting cell proliferation and, thus, improving functional recovery during exercise.
As mentioned earlier, BCAAs act as the energy source during exercise, reducing 5-HT (serotonin) or the central fatigue substance’s accumulation.
This results in enhancing exercise performance.
4. Assisting in Weight Loss
One of the side-benefits of BCAAs is that it helps in weight loss.
This is because Branched Chain Amino Acids if taken along with vitamin B6, improves fat metabolism and muscle synthesis.
In a 2016 study, researchers tested 17 males by splitting them into a carbohydrate group and BCAA group. They then prescribed the subjects an 8-week bodybuilding-style workout routine along with a calorie-restricted diet.
At the end of the test, the BCAA group was found to lose body fat while maintaining muscle mass. The carbohydrate group, on the other hand, lost muscle mass. Researchers concluded that BCAAs taken during dieting could preserve muscle mass.
In another study which also looked at how BCAAs affect weight loss found out that although BCAAs didn’t directly contribute to weight loss, it had a great impact in preserving legs lean while also attenuating the waist to hip ratio.
5. Other Benefits of BCAAs
Other recent studies also suggest that BCAAs help recover peripheral blood mononuclear cell proliferation against the mitogens after an intense long-distance exercise and plasma glutamine concentration.
The BCAAs modify the exercise-related cytokine production pattern as well, resulting in a diversion of the lymphocyte immune response towards a Th1 type. This proves that BCAA might is also a useful supplement for immune regulation for sports events.
One unique thing about BCAAs is that their metabolization happens directly in the skeletal muscle and not in the liver.
How to take BCAA
The best time for consumption of BCAA is during exercise, as it helps replenish the energy and electrolytes lost during the workout.
The optimum quantity of BCAA for a normal gym-going person is 15 grams. However, if you are an athlete with extreme physical activity, you can double that to 30 grams.
The recommendation is that you mix this quantity in 500 ml of water since it facilitates easy absorption for the body.
It is important that you back the consumption of BCAA with a healthy and balanced diet.
The Best Way to Consume BCAA
The best way to consume BCAA is through sachets. And this is because of two reasons – One, you consume exactly the recommended quantity of the BCAA; Second, there is no contact with the atmosphere. This means you get the freshest BCAA for consumption as possible.
Then there is the added convenience of not having to measure the quantity or wash the spoon every time. Just tear the sachet, add the contents to 500ml of water and you are good to go! You can carry the required BCAA servings in the form of sachets on your way to the gym or workout arena.
Amongst the most trusted brands offering top quality BCAA supplement is Fast&Up.
The Fast&Up BCAA – Intra Workout Recovery – supplement available in a jar of thirty servings.
Football is a game of continuous movement and recovery during& after the game is of utmost importance. I have recently tried Fast&Up BCAA during my game and it works great for me. @FastandUp_India pic.twitter.com/IRTvAHgglH
— Anas Edathodika (@anasedathodika) September 14, 2018
Trusted by seasoned athletes and fitness lovers, this product contains a proprietary formula that delivers 5g of three major amino acids – L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine and L-Valine in an ideal 2:1:1 ratio.
What’s Special About Fast&Up BCAA?
Along with the traditional BCAA formulation, Fast&Up BCAA supplement comes with performance-enhancing ingredients such as L-Arginine for Reducing Muscle Fatigue, L-Glutamine for Muscle Recovery, Taurine for Energy, and L-Citrulline for Nitric Oxide (NO) boost.
Moreover, it also includes an essential mix of electrolytes and vitamins for a performance-driven phase of intra-workout.
The 10.5g of pure amino acids in WADA Compliant Fast&Up BCAA helps in providing muscle strength, supporting muscle recovery, reducing muscle breakdown and boosting muscle endurance.
Furthermore, Fast&Up BCAA drink is based on the Ultra Granulation Technology that ensures rapid absorption, unmatched taste and instant dissolution of the contents.
Last but certainly not the least, the Fast&Up BCAA supplement comes with the Informed Choice Certificate. This means that every batch of this product is tested for WADA banned substances under an accredited quality assurance programme by Informed Choice.
The Informed Choice Certificate is the globally acknowledged gold standard in the sports nutrition industry. It has passed through a rigorous certification process to provide assurances to athletes and customers.
Fast&Up is India’s leading sports nutrition expert with years of experience. With Swiss R&D, the company aims at revolutionizing the way sports nutrition is administered in the country. Fast&Up is also the Official Energy Drink Partner of Road Safety World Series 2020.