BCAA's are a set of amino acids well known to gym users, and are one of the supplements that you will definitely find in any sports nutrition store.
These are three essential amino acids, they are: Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine.
These three amino acids are present in practically all foods rich in protein, such as meat, fish or eggs, so if you eat a diet rich in protein, you probably already have a reasonable consumption of BCAA's.
Does this mean that this supplement is not worth using?
Maybe yes maybe not.
BCAA supplementation in a diet rich in high biological value proteins is not essential, but can be beneficial, especially Leucine.
During exercise, there is a decline in these amino acids, which leads, for example, to the occurrence of fatigue.
To better understand the benefits of BCAA's, let's isolate them and talk a little about each one.
- Although much of the information contained in this article can be applied to all types of sporting activities, it is focused above all on the world of gym and bodybuilding training.
Leucine is considered the most important amino acid in this group, and we can even say that it is the most important amino acid of all amino acids when it comes to the gym!
Why is this?
Because Leucine is the most powerful amino acid of all in stimulating protein synthesis, which will lead to anabolism and consequent muscle growth.
Leucine's main mechanism of action is through the activation of a protein called mTOR.
This protein plays an important role in regulating protein synthesis, and consequently in muscle growth.
Now, this doesn't mean that you just need to take a daily Leucine shower and you'll see muscle gains!
In addition to activating mTOR, Leucine stimulates the secretion of insulin, an extremely anabolic hormone and one of Leucine's metabolites is HMB, known for its anti-catabolic action.
If it were only possible to choose one of the three amino acids, Leucine would be the best choice if your goal is to gain muscle mass, and you can easily find it on sale as a supplement in isolation.
After Leucine, the most important amino acid in this group is Isoleucine.
While Leucine plays above all an anabolic and muscle growth role, Isoleucine works more as an anti-catabolic and increases and maintains performance.It is.
Isoleucine promotes the consumption and storage of glucose within muscle cells, leading to more efficient use of energy.
Furthermore, it also induces protein synthesis, although less significantly than Leucine.
Therefore, with Isoleucine supplementation, it may take longer for you to reach fatigue and stop exercising.
Finally, we have Valine, which is the least studied of the three amino acids in isolation, and also the one that theoretically provides the least benefits.
Valine shares some of the benefits of the other two amino acids, but is less effective than both, and to date does not have any exclusive benefit like the other two.
It is still an essential amino acid with important functions in the body, it is just weaker when compared to both Leucine and Isoleucine when the objective is to improve body composition.
Now that we've talked a little about each of the amino acids, you already know what to expect from a supplementation with BCAA's.
The synergy between the three amino acids can bring benefits such as:
- Greater muscle growth
- More performance
- Fatigue reduction
- Less muscle pain
The most notable benefits are in terms of reducing fatigue and muscle recovery.
Now, is it worth supplementing with BCAA's?
Anyone who already uses whey protein before and after training will notice few benefits from BCAA's, as whey protein is naturally rich in these three amino acids, and each dose (of a good whey) brings an average of 4g to 5g of BCAA's.
This doesn't mean it's useless, it's just far from being essential.
Supplementing with BCAA's makes sense at specific times, such as before, during and after training.. This is where supplementation with BCAA's comes in, and it is very common to see these three amino acids in pre-workout supplements.
This is because it will promote an anabolic environment, mitigate fatigue and improve performance during training, which can lead to better results.
Who will benefit from BCAA's?
- Anyone looking to increase muscle mass, the increase in protein synthesis and greater storage of glucose in muscle cells will help.
- Anyone who wants to lose fat mass will benefit from the anti-catabolic action of BCAA's.
- Those who practice endurance sports, BCAA supplementation will delay the action of fatigue, helping to maintain performance.
- Those who train fasting or with very little food, when waking up for example.
How much and when should I use BCAA's?
The best time to supplement with BCAA's is before, during and after training.
You must use at least 5g, and you can use up to 15g to 20g, divided up.
I'm undecided between BCAA's in powder or tablet form, help me!
Powdered BCAAs are usually cheaper and easier to dose, but they taste bad if you use the unflavored version.
As for pills, in addition to paying more, you will probably have to fill up on pills to reach the ideal dose.
Yes, it's true, we prefer powdered BCAAs.
The most common division is 2:1:1, that is, the dose of leucine is normally twice the amount of isoleucine and valine, and if you read the article, you know why! There are even formulas that go further, and use concentrations of leucine that are triple or quadruple compared to its other two companions.
Conclusion and opinion
BCAA's are an interesting supplement, as long as you don't expect miracles.
They help you recover faster and spend less time complaining about muscle pain from leg training, and in weight loss diets they can help maintain muscle mass.
Now, if you already use a diet high in quality proteins and are in excess calories, the benefit will only exist if you use BCAA's at the right times.
It is important to mention that most of the benefits of these amino acids occur not only through supplementation, but also through diet, therefore a diet high in quality proteins is also high in BCAA's.
However, using BCAA's before, during and after training has benefits that can only be achieved with supplementation, such as reducing fatigue and creating a more anabolic environment around training. Unless you're thinking about eating a steak mid-workout, of course.
If you already use whey before and after training, supplementing with BCAA's from 0 to 5 would probably be a 2, mitigating fatigue during training mainly.
If you don't use whey, but follow a diet rich in proteins of high biological value, it would be a 3, and if that diet is not yet very refined in terms of protein, the BCAA's would probably be a 3.5.
If you have already used them, leave your opinion in the comments and tell us what you noticed and whether or not they are worth it.