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?
BCAAs stands for branched chain amino acids and they comprise of leucine, isoleucine and valine, three of the nine essential amino acids. They cannot be synthesised by the body and so must be supplied through the diet. 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?
BCAAs make up 35% of muscle mass and are the most intensively-consumed essential amino acids during sporting activity. Supplementing one’s diet with BCAAs 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 breakdown of muscle mass during exercise and low-calorie diets
> support recovery after a workout
BCAAs are naturally only found in protein-rich foods but first the body has to split the proteins in order to make use of them. BCAA supplements provide branched chain amino acids in a free form, making them immediately available to the body. The use of BCAA supplements allows you to control your protein intake, thereby alleviating any strain on the digestive system and the liver, thus ensuring that precious blood is not directed away from active muscle mass.
When should you take them?
Taking BCAA supplements is useful both before and after intense, prolonged aerobic exercise. Before, to give you more energy and combat tiredness and fatigue. After, to quickly refill your energy reserves and encourage protein synthesis, thereby decreasing post-workout catabolism.
Can I use BCAAs even when I’m not exercising?
We recommend that you only use BCAA supplements on workout days or whilst training and only for short periods of time, unless under medical supervision.
How can I identify the supplement that best meets my needs?
BCAAs are available on the market in different forms: 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.