What are Branched Chain Amino Acids BCAAs?
Amino acids form the building blocks of proteins. There are twenty amino acids, out of which nine of them fall under the essential amino acids category. They are essential because our body can not produce these amino acids, and an external supply is necessary.
BCAA's full form is Branched Chain Amino Acids, which includes three essential amino acids - Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. They fall under the same group because of the similarity in their chemical structure that extends to one side only.
Let's understand the individual role of BCAAs in the body.
Leucine: This amino acid is hydrophobic (repels water) in nature. Leucine is involved in essential processes of the body. It is needed for protein synthesis, regulating energy metabolism, and tissue regeneration.
Isoleucine: Isoleucine is present in abundance in muscle tissue. This essential amino acid is critical for energy metabolism, proper immune function, muscle growth, and haemoglobin synthesis.
Valine: Like leucine and isoleucine, valine is required for muscle growth to prevent muscle breakdown and energy metabolism but is also vital for an ideal nitrogen balance in the body and smooth cognitive function.
BCAA supplements are a part of the workout essentials of many professional elite athletes and active individuals. They are primarily beneficial to stay energized throughout the workout, minimizing muscle damage and delaying muscle fatigue.
Gym-goers, endurance athletes, bodybuilders, and other active people having intense exercise schedules need a continuous supply of BCAAs; hence it is essential to supplement.
BCAAs: Benefits & Uses
Although BCAAs are naturally present in protein supplements. But here are some of the ways by which taking an additional BCAA supplement can benefit.
Support muscle growth: This is one of the critical benefits which makes BCAA a popular supplement among bodybuilders and powerlifters. Leucine, isoleucine, and valine act together in the body and activate enzymes responsible for muscle building and lean muscle growth.
Prevent muscle breakdown: Vigorous exercise exerts stress on our muscles leading to muscle atrophy. A continuous supply of BCAAs help prevent muscle breakdown and protect lean muscles.
Delay exercise fatigue: Exercise results in a decline of BCAA levels in the body. This declined level triggers tryptophan conversion to serotonin, which accounts for the feeling of fatigue. BCAA obstructs this action of tryptophan, hence delaying fatigue. Therefore, a BCAA supplement pre or during a workout is perfect for gaining that extra strength and endurance and giving the best shot while one trains or competes.
Reduce muscle soreness: BCAAs under rapid metabolism are absorbed directly into the muscles; they bypass the liver to recover quickly. If it is a struggle to recover post an intense workout session, then a BCAA supplement is helpful to get rid of that muscle pain and soreness and regain strength.
Support immune health: Poor immune health is an obstacle to peak performance. BCAAs fuel lymphocytes (immune cells) and strengthen them to fight against foreign bodies and diseases.
Maintain blood sugar levels: Decreased supply of glucose to skeletal muscles can affect energy levels and overall athletic performance. BCAAs, especially leucine and isoleucine, increase glucose uptake from the blood to muscles, prevent high blood sugar levels, and regulate muscle protein synthesis.
Promote weight loss: Go for a BCAA supplement if aiming to shed extra pounds. BCAAs regulate blood sugar levels, prevent unwanted sweet cravings, provide fullness, promote fat burning and preserve lean muscle mass.
Types of BCAA Supplements:
BCAA supplements are available in various forms and flavours. One can choose as per the need and preferences.
BCAA Powder: Powder is the most preferred, widely available form and is primarily consumed during the workout.
BCAA Capsule: Capsules are convenient to use, but the absorption time is longer than the other states.
BCAA Liquid: They have the highest absorption rate and provide the fastest delivery of amino acids.
Some BCAA supplements also contain electrolytes, which gives them an extra edge as they prevent muscle cramps and maintain the body's electrolyte balance.
How to choose the right BCAAs for you?
It is essential to check the ingredients, amount of BCAAs, and the ratio of BCAAs before opting for any BCAA supplement. Leucine should always be higher as compared to the other two amino acids. The most ideal ratio is 2:1:1. The product should be certified, without added sugar, and free from all prohibited or banned substances.
Although BCAAs in the ratio of 2:1:1 are considered ideal, bodybuilders and active people with intense workout schedules can choose BCAAs having higher leucine content.
How to use BCAAs?
Anyone can consume BCAAs with water, fruit juices, or any preferred beverage.
BCAA supplements are very versatile to take at any time of the day. But for better results, prefer consuming before or during your workout. Active people can consume BCAAs post-workout again to speed up the recovery rate. If an endurance athlete likes taking any energy drink before the sport, then BCAAs can also be mixed in an energy drink and consumed together. It will provide the dual benefit of maintained energy levels and lesser muscle damage.
Where to buy BCAAs?
Halt is home to some of the best-reputed BCAA supplements brands at the best prices. When you buy from Halt.in or any of the offline supplements stores near to you of Halt, you always get genuine products at the best prices, legally sourced from various brands and/ or official importers at best BCAA price in India.
Which is the best BCAA?
Muscle Mantra Arm3d BCAA with Glutamine and Citrulline Malate: It provides 3500 mg of BCAA per serving, having leucine, isoleucine, and valine in an ideal ratio of 2:1:1. It is the best BCAA supplement for fitness enthusiasts and professional bodybuilders who prefer taking BCAAs to magnify the recovery rate and minimize muscle breakdown. It provides Citrulline malate, Glutamine and taurine also to give you the extra pump, recovery, focus and helps make your workouts more powerful and productive.
Are BCAAs safe to consume?
BCAA powder generally has no side effects if consumed as required. However, it is advisable to consult a doctor or an expert in any medical condition like diabetes, liver, or kidney disorder.
Although BCAA supplements have shown no side effects in pregnant and lactating women, it is better to avoid them during these phases.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)
- Can BCAA supplements be consumed by anyone?
Yes BCAA’s are safe for consumption for any person. However we still advise you take guidance from your medical practitioner and thereon make an informed choice.
- Which is better- BCAAs or L-Leucine?
Studies have shown that leucine, combined with isoleucine and valine, increases muscle protein synthesis and recovery rate. Therefore, BCAA is a better option to choose.
- What is the ideal ratio of BCAA?
Experts believe that BCAAs are effective in the ratio of 2:1:1. However, one may choose options with higher leucine content, like 4:1:1 or 8:1:1.
- Can I consume BCAAs without exercise?
There is no harm in consuming a BCAA protein supplement without exercise. It will assist in meeting essential amino acid requirements. But never forget that dietary intake should also be adequate to compensate for the remaining six essential amino acids.
If consuming it without exercise, then make sure to check the ingredients carefully. It should only have BCAA, not other components like caffeine, creatine, etc.
One can only expect BCAA drinks to support your protein needs but not muscle growth when consumed with a sedentary lifestyle.
- Why is Leucine content higher in BCAA supplements?
You must have noticed that if all three BCAAs play such an important role, why does the essential amino acid leucine have the highest ratio? It is because approximately 80% of leucine is utilized in protein synthesis, as scientific research suggests. During a workout, the body is in the catabolic phase, leading to muscle breakdown. Still, as soon as this anabolic amino acid- leucine, is transported into the muscles, the recovery rate rises.
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