BCAA’s…The missing link?
So for the past couple of years we have seen an increase of people in gyms walking around with what looks like a fancy colored cocktail in their shaker bottles, that wouldn’t look out of place beside you at the pool while soaking up some vitamin D from the sun, or in my case hiding under an umbrella, trying not to get burnt.
So why are people drinking cocktails at the gym you wonder? Well in a way it is a cocktail alright, but not the type that leaves you with a sore head and regret.
Is it a bird, is it a plane? No it’s branched chain!
Branched chain amino acids have grown hugely in popularity in recent time, and with good reason, as studies have shown them to be an effective supplement. So what are these BCAA’S that I speak of? Firstly most of you have probably heard “Amino acids are the building blocks of protein” at some stage. If not, you have now. Basically they combine to form structures such as muscle tissue, enzymes and hormones. There are 20 amino acids muscle use for growth, 9 essential (must be supplied by diet) 6 non-essential (these can be produced by the body) and 5 conditionally essential (cannot be produced in certain situations and must therefore be consumed). For the purpose of this article we are only concentrating on the 3 that are the branched chained (refers to the molecular structure). These are Leucine, Valine and Isoleucine and are all essential amino acids. These 3 amino’s make up roughly a third of the amino’s within muscle tissue.
Beef, chicken, fish, pork, milk, cheese and protein’s such as whey, casein and egg are all high in essential amino acids, so contain the 3 BCAA’S I refer to. So why do I need to be taking a BCAA’s supplement when I already get them from my food? That’s a good point. I always look at diet, training and recovery as been the foundations of your house, it needs to be solid and well built. BCAA’s are like the flat screen TV you buy after everything else is built on a solid base.
So now let’s look at the positives of adding a BCAA supplement like PPS Nutrition’s BCAA Matrix (), aka the flat screen, to your training regime. When we are training hard we are using up energy. BCAA’s are metabolized within muscle tissue in the form of ATP, which is the primary source of energy in weight training and muscle contraction. Train harder for longer? Sipping on BCAA’S around training is starting to sound pretty good already.
When we train hard, it has a catabolic effect on our bodies, resulting in muscle tissue starting to break down. As we know we have to break down muscle tissue in order to make it grow back bigger and stronger, but what we don’t want is to cause excessive break down. We just want to dig a little hole and get the nutrient into it after training, instead of digging a canyon, requiring days to try and recover, which isn’t ideal when training multiple times a week. Supplementing BCAA’s during your training sessions helps to prevent this and also helps to decrease muscle soreness post training.
Leucine also plays a very important role in muscle protein synthesis. The synthesis of protein is basically the method by which muscles are constructed. Our bodies are either in a catabolic or anabolic state, so when our body produces more synthesized protein than it is consuming, BANG, more muscle growth.
BCAA’S can be great for someone who is in a calorie deficit as they help prevent against the body breaking down muscle as fuel, and let’s be honest, which took a lot of pain, sweat and tears to build it in the first place, so I wouldn’t be in a rush to give it up without a fight. As your amounts of protein will be down while’s dieting due to an overall reduction in calories, in-between meals is a great time to sip on BCAA’s also, as our body cannot make or store essential amino’s.
So to finish up, I think BCAA’S are a great little tool to add to your training toolbox. As I stated earlier you do get them from your diet, but you don’t want to be the person in the gym holding a chicken breast in 1 hand and a dumbbell in the other, plus the positive of the speed at which the BCAA can enter your system because it doesn’t need to be broken down like solid food.
Anyways guys hope you can take something away from this, as I say you should have a solid foundation in place first, and then BCAA’S supplement are just a welcome addition to your training regime, once you’re training hard enough to earn them.
Jason Morris PPS Ambassador CYQ Level 3 Personal trainer, Fetac level 5 Sports and recreation