If you’re looking for an all-in-one supplement that will help you build more muscle, have more energy in the gym, and keep the muscle you’ve built while you’re trying to diet, you’d be hard pressed to find a better option than BCAA’s.
Sounds like hyperbole, I know, but hear me out.
Because while there are certainly a lot of supplements out there that get unjustly hyped up, BCAA’s aren’t one them.
Today we’ll be talking all about five benefits of BCAA’s you may not have considered.
Branched chain amino acids are exactly what they sound like- essential amino acids. They are, among other things, the fundamental compounds that act as the building blocks of muscle.
The essential part of the name implies that they’re amino acids that cannot be synthesized by the body, and must be consumed in the form of high protein foods.
All in all, there are nine essential amino acids. The three that make up the “branched chain” category are leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
What Does The Research Have To Say About BCAA’s?
So, given that getting enough of all nine essential amino acids is important for building muscle and supporting optimal health, why should we be paying attention to these three in particular?
Well, as it turns out, there are quite a few good reasons. A lot of research has been conducted on the benefits of taking them in supplement form- and the results are impressive.
Benefit #1: BCAA’s Drive Protein Synthesis and Help Build Muscle
Perhaps the greatest and most studied benefit, branched chain amino acids have been shown to be vital for muscle growth (it’s the combination of amino acids along with training that activates the mTORC1 pathway that controls protein synthesis).
Now, with that said, this isn’t to say that a supplement is “necessary” per se- all three of these amino acids are found in almost any halfway sensible diet.
However, it has been shown that taking them as a supplement and increasing the overall amount in the body is hugely beneficial for building muscle.
The difference between a BCAA supplement and say, a whey protein shake or a steak, is that the leucine, isoleucine and valine are not bound to other amino acids.
The result is rapid absorption into the bloodstream, and an immediate increase in plasma levels, making them that much more effective when it comes to protein synthesis (and ultimately, muscle growth).
Benefit #2: BCAA’s Prevent Muscle Loss
Not only will a good BCAA supplement help you build new muscle, it will also help you preserve your hard fought gains when you’re on a diet.
Calorie deficits are a necessary evil for cutting fat, but the problem is this- the leaner you get, the more likely your body is to burn through muscle in the absence of sufficient calories.
A BCAA supplement can help offset this, since a high availability not only increases protein synthesis but also prevents protein breakdown by making it less likely that the body will dig into muscle tissue for amino acids.
Benefit #3: BCAA’s Reduce Workout Fatigue
One of the major factors that will impact whether or not your workout results in muscle growth is intensity in the gym.
A side benefit of BCAA’s are their ability to help in this department. Not only can isoleucine and valine be converted directly to glucose during periods of glycogen depletion, but they also affect the brain as well.
One of the reasons that fatigue sets in during exercise is the uptake in tryptophan, which causes the brain to release serotonin.
When you ingest BCAA’s before and during training, valine essentially competes with tryptophan, resulting in an offset in fatigue (one study on the effects of BCAA’s found an 8-12% reduction in tryptophan uptake).
Benefit #4: BCAA’s Help Older Trainees Build Muscle
While BCAA’s will benefit almost all trainees, they’re particularly beneficial for older people looking to build muscle.
One of the downsides of aging is the gradual decline in muscle mass that most of us experience.
There are a number of reasons for this, but one of them involves the effect of hormones on protein metabolism. Luckily, BCAA’s, and in particular leucine, can help- studies have shown an excess of leucine through supplementation is likely beneficial in older people to overcome this resistance.
Benefit #5: BCAA’s Help With Muscle Soreness
A little muscle soreness is all part of the lifting game, and certainly ain’t gonna kill you.
But with that said, a high level of it is not only uncomfortable, but can prevent you from putting in the necessary volume in the gym to reach your goal.
Once again, a good dose of BCAA’s may be just what you need here, since these supplements seem to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS (i.e. the stiffness you experience in the hours and days after training).
One study, measuring soreness induced from squatting, found a significant reduction in DOMS at its peak (days two and three) when a BCAA supplement was used.
So, if you’re a fan of training at a high volume several times per week, consider adding BCAA’s to your repertoire.
The Bottom Line On BCAA’s
Hopefully you’ve figured out by now that BCAA’s aren’t just for meatheads trying to bulk up. They can be used by anyone, regardless of age, for a wide range of purposes.
And when it comes to choosing one of these supplements, we’ve got you covered. Amino Charge BCAA not only uses top quality amino acids, but we use the tried and tested 2:1:1 ratio- two parts leucine, one part isoleucine and one part valine- for maximum results.
For more information about how to use a BCAA supplement and get the most out of it, check out our free guide on the topic.