What are BCAAs? How can supplementing a diet with branched-chain amino acids be useful for an athlete? When should you take them? In this quick guide, you can find the answers to these questions and many other FAQs about BCAA supplementation in sport.
What are BCAAs?
BCAA stands for Branched-Chain Amino Acids. They are made up of Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine, three of the nine essential amino acids – i.e., amino acids that cannot be independently synthesised in sufficient quantities for the body if not provided by an adequate food supply. Much like the other amino acids, they are the primary structural units of proteins.
How could supplementing a diet with BCAAs be useful for an athlete?
The BCAAs make up 35% of muscle mass and are the most intensively-consumed essential amino acids during sporting activity. Supplementing your diet with them is particularly useful for athletes due to their reconstructive and structural function. BCAAS are involved directly in muscular work and help to:
> stimulate protein synthesis
> increase energy and muscular endurance
> prevent the loss of muscle mass in the case of intense athletic performance and low-calorie diets
> support recovery after a workout
In nature, BCAAs are only found in protein-rich foods, whereas BCAA supplements provide branched-chain amino acids in a free form that is immediately usable by the athlete. Using BCAA supplements therefore allows you to control your protein intake, thereby alleviating pressure from the digestive system and the liver and ensuring that precious blood is not directed away from active muscles.
When should you take them?
Taking BCAA supplements is useful both before and after intense, prolonged aerobic exercise. Before, to help give you more energy and combat the feeling of tiredness and fatigue. After, to quickly refill your energy reserves and encourage protein synthesis, thereby decreasing post-workout catabolism.
Can I use it even when I’m not exercising?
We recommend that you only use BCAA supplements on workout days and in any case, only for short periods of time, unless under medical supervision.
How can I identify the supplement that best meets my needs?
There are different types of BCAA on the market: tablets, powders, 100% plant-based, certified 100% pure, gluten-free, lactose-free, and with differing proportions of each of the branched-chain amino acids. Every sport and every athlete has different requirements. NAMEDSPORT> has developed three different BCAA supplements for three specific sports and nutritional requirements: BCAA 2:1:1, BCAA Advanced 2:1:1 and BCAA 4:1:1 Extreme Pro.