BCAA is a trending topic among individuals who like sports and fitness. It is one of the most popular dietary manipulations among athletes engaged in endurance activities. BCAA is a common supplement used by all genders cutting across all ages. A high number of people make use of BCAA as a pre-workout plan with the intention that they will get extra energy working out.
If you are keen, you could notice that some athletes or gym enthusiasts ingest various colored liquids. They will go ahead to tell you that the liquid are very effective. It improves the process of recovery; the lame and sole reason they will give to you to justify the usage of BCAA or everything supplemental.
When you direct the same question to the companies involved in the manufacture of supplements, they will use such statements like:
What are BCAA’s?
I know most BCAA lovers won’t welcome the discussion.
When it comes to BCAA, you need to understand that it stands for branched chain amino acids. We are talking about three amino acids. They include the leucine, valine, and isoleucine. They are branched chain because their chemical structures contain a branched side chain as compared to the other families of the nine essential amino acids. One third of the muscle tissue is composed of the BCAAs. They are essential in protein production within our bodies. Since majority of the amino acids can be found in the muscles, they need to be boosted to the human system through supplements to enhance the repair of the muscles and reduce the possibilities of any damage that the muscles may experience.
It is important to note that the oxidation of BCAAs takes place in the skeletal muscles. On the other hand, the degradation or catabolism of other essential amino acids takes place within the liver. When ingested in free form, BCAAs will directly enter the blood stream and bypass the gut tissue and the liver.
How do the BCAA supplements work?
Once one completes a high intensity workout, the body reverts into breaking down muscle tissues to get energy and ensure the damaged tissues are repaired. This is a state known as the catabolic or the muscle wasting state. It is a dangerous state that should not be adored. Thus, with the intake of BCAA before, during or after a high-intensity exercise is aimed at providing muscle building nutrients to the muscles. The nutrients play a big role in quickening the process of muscle rebuilding and ensure the muscle building or anabolic state is created. The body will then ensure muscle growth signals are activated and provides a pathway for the stimulation of protein production. With the combination of amino acids and the stimulated protein production, you will attain maximum benefits from a workout.
Thus, the usage of BCAAs after a workout makes the body to produce more protein. Athletes, bodybuilders and other gym enthusiasts will greatly benefit from such a process. BCAAs are known to reduce the muscle recovery time as they enhance the rate at which muscles grow. They help in improving the body’s immunity by fighting against the intake of glutamine by the body.
During intensive workouts, BCAAs can be depleted leading to catabolism. Catabolism is detrimental to those who are aiming at gaining more muscle mass. Thus, one can ingest up to 8 grams of BCAA before and after any workout to ensure the avoidance of catabolism. For maximum performance and quick recovery, amino acids supplementation should be taken in high quantities.
What are the best ways and timings?
The best moment to take BCAAs is pre-workout, a few minutes into the workout, after the workout and early mornings. Some people apply the trick of taking BCAAs an hour before working out, and during the exercise as well. You can mix the BCAAs with water in a bottle. Drink half of the mixture an hour before exercise and the other half immediately you start the exercise. There is no appropriate time though. You need to exercise hard to be in a position of maximizing the results.
Before or After Exercise
A study, published in National Center for Biotechnology Information in 2018, by a number of researchers was aimed at establishing and comparing the effects of taking BCAAs before and after exercise. Fifteen men were given 10 grams of BCAAs before carrying out a strengthening workout targeted at their non-dominant arm. It was noted that they had less muscle soreness and low muscle damage as compared to those who took BCAAs after the arm workout.
Another study for direct comparison is one in which 21 men were given 25 grams of whey protein isolate (contains a supply of 5.5g of BCAAs). They were given the isolate right before or immediately after an intense weight-lifting exercise for a period of ten weeks. It was realized that both the groups experienced similar improvements in terms of strength and the composition of the body.
From the studies, it’s difficult to determine whether it is effective to take the BCAAs before or after an intensive workout.
What is the optimal time?
BCAAs are at peak levels within the blood system half an hour after intake. It is still unclear the optimal time you should consume them as stipulated in the study published at Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. As much as it is in public domain that getting optimal muscle building after consumption of protein takes 45-60 minutes, the timeframe can go even to 5 hours after a workout.
Thus, you will decide whether to ingest the BCAA shortly before or after exercising depending on the effects you experience.
During a workout
Much has not been reported about the intake of BCAAs during exercising. From a study, 16g of BCAAs were given to men involved in a 42.2km marathon. No significance difference was realized as they didn’t run any faster compared to the rest of the runners in the placebo group.
You should be flexible about when you should consume BCAAs as long as there is no competition in absorption process with other nutrients. Intake of BCAAs immediately after dinner or a protein shake leads to less being absorbed as compared to ingesting between meals or during an exercise when the stomach is empty. If you prefer snacking within the day or exercising on a non-empty stomach, then it would be good to take BCAAs once you wake up in the morning.