Are BCAAs Right For You?
- Possible Pat
- June 19, 2018
There are two major supplements that you have probably heard me talk about, or have seen me drinking them on my Instagram. The two supplements you have probably seen me take are protein and BCAAs. I recently made a blog explaining how and why I use my protein supplement and you can read that by clicking here.
But I also get a lot of questions over why I take BCAAs, how they help me with my goals, and whether or not everyone should be taking them.
I didn’t always take BCAAs and when I began to lose all my weight, I didn’t take any supplements. Since I began my journey I have learned more about supplements and my goals have changed. I workout more now than I did in the beginning and my workouts have become more intense as my goals have turned to building and maintaining muscle, rather than strictly weight loss. BCAAs now help me work harder in the gym, build more muscle, and reduce the muscle soreness that comes with working out.
What Are BCAAs?
BCAAs, also known as branched-chain amino acids, is a group of amino acids that your body uses for energy and muscle synthesis. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are crucial to building and repairing muscle.
There are two types of amino acids: Essential and nonessential.
BCAAs are made up of the three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These three amino acids are considered to be essential because they are the three amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own, unlike the 13 nonessential amino acids. Because your body cannot produce these amino acids on its own you must get them through the foods that you consume. This is where a BCAA supplement can help.
They also help your body to build more muscle. This can be especially helpful if you are dieting or restricting calories. When you restrict your calories, your body naturally begins to break down muscle as it tries to hold onto its fat stores. Consuming BCAAs can help you preserve some of that muscle.
Using a BCAA supplement ensures that you get these three essential amino acids into your diet and helps you time when you take them. Plus when you consume a BCAA supplement, the amino acids are absorbed directly into your bloodstream, rather than having to be filtered out through the liver with food. Because this increases how rapidly your body is able to utilize BCAAs, the timing of your BCAA consumption can make a difference to your workout and your goals.
Top 4 Benefits of BCAAs
BCAAs are extremely popular among people who workout, and for good reason. Including this supplement in your diet may have many benefits, especially when used in conjunction with your workouts:
- Fights Fatigue – BCAAs provide your body with energy, especially if you are working out. Consuming BCAAs before and during your workout can give you the energy to workout longer and harder, helping you burn more calories per session.
- Builds Muscle – If you are trying to lose weight and are in a calorie deficit then BCAAs can help you retain the muscle your body naturally begins to break down. They can also be useful if you are trying to build more muscle and gain mass.
- Reduces Muscle Soreness – Using a BCAA supplement can help reduce muscle soreness because it helps to protect against muscle damage and repairs your muscles after your workout.
- Improves Weight Loss – Using a BCAA supplement can help you lose weight because it allows you to lower your calorie intake and burn more calories while you workout. It can also help you curb your sugar cravings, which can help you stay on track to your weight loss goals.
Best Times to Take BCAAs
I am a very active person so I take BCAAs throughout the day to help keep my energy levels up, but I more specifically try to use them around my workout.
Pre-workout – I use BCAAs as part of my pre-workout so that I have plenty of energy when I walk into the gym. This gives my body enough time to start breaking down the supplement to use as fuel. Consuming BCAAs before I start my workout helps to improve my performance in the gym, meaning increase the intensity of my workout to burn more calories and build more muscle.
Intra-workout – Once I start working out I continue to sip on my BCAAs so that I can keep my energy levels up and provide my body with a steady supply of energy, helping me improve my performance and fight fatigue so I can workout longer, especially if I am doing a lot of cardio. Sipping on BCAAs during your workout is also beneficial if you are on a low-carb diet or fasting, as your body will need the added fuel.
Post-workout – I also continue to consume BCAAs once my workout is complete. Your muscles go through a lot during a workout and afterward you begin to lose more muscle than you gain. Ingesting leucine, one of the amino acids within BCAAs, helps to prevent muscle loss and promote muscle building instead. This can also reduce the soreness of your muscles after an intense workout.
Are BCAAs Right For You?
If you are someone who workouts or if you are trying to build muscle like I am, then BCAAs is a supplement that you will want to take. It may also be beneficial if you are trying to lose weight and are in a calorie deficiency. Taking BCAAs while you are trying to lose weight, and especially if you are working out, will help your body preserve the muscle it is trying to break down.
When you start consuming fewer calories your body will begin to break down muscle and use it for fuel. To help stop this you can consume BCAAs, which supplies your body with the essential building blocks for protein and muscles.
Chances are, if you are solely focused on weight loss, have a lot to lose, and are not overly active, then you may not be at the point where a BCAA supplement is necessary for you. I say this not because you don’t need the essential amino acids that you get from a BCAA supplement, but rather because if you are focused on eating a balanced diet made from whole foods, you can easily get enough of these essential amino acids from the foods that you eat, especially if you are including a whey protein supplement in your diet.
Here are foods that contain each essential amino acid:
- Leucine – Whey protein, casein, eggs, soy, milk, cheese.
- Isoleucine – Meat, poultry, fish, whey protein, casein, eggs, soy, cottage cheese, milk, cashews.
- Valine – Whey protein, casein, egg whites, soy, cheese, milk, and cottage cheese.
If you are avoiding many of the foods above for dietary reasons, a BCAA supplement may help you get your essential amino acids in. This can be a beneficial supplement if you are vegetarian or if you have eliminated dairy or soy from your diet.
If you think that you may benefit from taking a BCAA supplement, or you want to give them a try, use my code: POSSIBLEPAT at checkout to get a special discount when you click the link. And be sure to follow me on Instagram for more weight loss and fitness information!
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About Possible Pat
Hi, I'm Pasquale Brocco and I've lost A LOT of weight. When I started my journey to lose weight, I weighed 605 pounds. After visiting the doctor, I realized I had to make a change. I started with a simple plan and within 60 days, I lost 100 lbs. So far, I've lost over 307 pounds. Now, I'm sharing a simple message with you, "Anything is possible." If you can put on the weight, you can lose the weight.