Everything you need to know about BCAAs
If your fitness goals include building muscle and levelling up your performance this summer, then you may have branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) on your supplement radar. But if you’re unsure of where to start when it comes to BCAAs, don’t worry, we've got all you workout aficionados covered! Here's what you need to know about how they work, and how they can help you achieve your health and fitness goals.
What are BCAAs?
We have 20 different amino acids that make up all the different types of proteins found in our bodies. BCAAs are made up of three different amino acids out of the 20 and are known as: leucine, isoleucine and valine. These three amino acids are essential amino acids. This is because we have to obtain them through our diet, as the body isn’t able to create them on its own.
BCAAs play an especially important role in rebuilding and repairing your muscles. They also have other functions, such as decreasing muscle soreness, reducing exercise fatigue, and can even help prevent muscle wastage.
Currently, nutritionists and researchers are focusing a great deal of attention on leucine, as it's crucial for stimulating protein synthesis, which allows the body to build more muscle.
What are the benefits of BCAAs?
Research suggests that BCAAs may help supercharge your exercise regimen in the following ways:
- Promote muscle growth post workout: BCAAs activate a certain pathway in the body, known as the mTOR signalling pathway, that stimulates protein synthesis and reduces the breakdown of protein.
- Reduce muscle soreness: BCAAs have been shown to reduce muscle soreness by reducing damage in exercised muscles — great news for those who routinely suffer from Delayed Onset Muscle Stiffness aka DOMS!
- Can limit fatigue: BCAAs might help slash workout fatigue by limiting the entry of tryptophan in the brain, a chemical that converts into serotonin. Serotonin may sound familiar to many of you, since it’s known as the ‘happy hormone’. But high levels of this happy hormone can trigger some serious fatigue.
Best time to take BCAAs: before or after a workout?
Maintaining quality levels of protein in your diet can be difficult — especially if you’re working out regularly. Enter: a BCAA supplement.
BCAAs are really helpful for those days when you’re engaging in strength and interval training. But, when’s the best time to take it? For the best results, BCAAs are best taken around your training session, so either shortly before or straight after working out.
In our BCAA supplement, we’ve ensured we have included a ratio of 2:1:1 of leucine/isoleucine/valine to help you get the most benefit out of these amino acids!
Riya Lakhani ANutr is a registered nutritionist and health writer with a special interest in plant-based nutrition. She has completed a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Human Nutrition, and has developed a passion for writing about all things plant-based.