BCAA's - are they worth it?
Today, I am going to be addressing something which I have been getting A LOT of questions about during my comp prep - SUPPLEMENTS!
The first supplement I would like to talk about this week is BCAA's (Branch Chain Amino Acids). BCAA's are considered the perfect supplement for people looking to put on mass, but more for people who are looking to cut body fat whilst maintaining as much muscle mass as possible. Speaking personally, whilst drinking this 3-4 times daily, I can tell you now that BCAA's had a significant impact on my progress during my prep.
THE ABC'S OF BCAA'S
When you are cutting calories, your body will be in a catabolic state. This just means your body will be breaking down tissue …A LOT of tissue (fat, some muscle etc.) rather then making it. Muscle loss will therefore occur when cutting since your body opts to use the amino acids (make up of muscle) which would have otherwise been utilized for protein synthesis (development of muscle) as an energy source.
Ok a little more science….
To build muscle, your body’s rate of protein synthesis must be greater than the rate of protein breakdown. If it was the other way round, muscle loss occurs and if they are equal your muscle mass remains the same...pretty simple.
Now here's where it get's interesting...
BCAA’s increase the rate of protein synthesis more so than your regular dietary protein because they have already been broken down into the necessary amino acids that your body requires to carry out the reaction. So the rate of protein synthesis increases, in addition to the amount of protein synthesis any one particular cell can carry out. Because of this, BCAA also helps maximize muscle recovery.
WHAT ELSE DOES IT DO?
BCAA helps reduce the amount of protein breakdown. This just means that BCAAs increase protein synthesis and reduce protein breakdown, which in turn leads to more muscle being built.
And there's more...
BCAA also helps reduce tiredness, which in turn can help you with your workouts. To add a personal note, I use BCAA before my workout, why you ask…. Well BCAA slows the production of ‘serotonin’ which often raises during a workout. Serotonin increases the perception of fatigue while training, so if you haven’t figure it out yet, taking BCAA before will prevent it from happening and you can smash you’re set and stay focussed
6 Reasons why you should be taking BCAA:
- Protection against Amino Acid deficiencies
- Supports Immune System
- Prevention of Muscle Loss
- Maximises Recovery
- Prevents Tiredness / Increases Energy & Focus
- Appetite Suppressant
WHEN TO TAKE BCAA'S
Always read what it says on the packet but each time you take BCAA's, you should aim for around 5-10 grams. The most critical and effective time to take them are pre and post-workouts.
From my personal experience, whilst I was building muscle, I would take a scoop first thing in the morning to help prevent the muscle breakdown that would naturally switch on after my night of fasting while I slept.
I also took BCAAs throughout the day, especially during the stage where I was dropping my carbs and reducing my kcal intake. This not only gave me the mental energy boost but reduced my hunger and aided muscle growth while I was away from the iron house.
WHICH ONE TO BUY?
I’ve been a lab rat during my fitness life and career, experimenting with a variety of different brands and figuring out which one tops the charts. During my 22 weeks Comp Prep I came across The Protein Works IBCAA, which I couldn't fault. The main reason why I choose this BCAA was because of the ‘I’ they placed on their logo, it wasn’t a typo, it stands for ‘Instantised’.
Protein Works explains....
‘‘It's important to note there is a fundamental difference between products advertised as "BCAA" and "iBCAA". The "i" stands for instantised which means our BCAAs have undergone a high tech manufacturing process. This ensures that when mixed with water, our BCAAs dissolve fully. Standard, cheaper BCAAs, when mixed with water cannot dissolve and 'lumps' float on the top of the liquid. This not only makes it harder to consume but also takes longer to reach the muscle. Here at TPW™, we only manufacture iBCAA as we believe in only offering products that achieve the best results for our customers.