women working out with weight plate.

When to Take BCAA

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This article will detail when to take BCAA. First of all, we will look into the science behind this amazing supplement and then the best time to take it and for what exercise it benefits the most.

You have most likely heard quite a lot about this supplement, often in the gym locker room and may have seen almost everyone in the gym taking BCAA’s, but you still might not be quite sure on the best way to take it or with what workout routine. Well, after reading this article you will be an expert on this great supplement.

What are BCAA’s

BCAA’s (Branched-Chain Amino Acids), unlike most other amino acids, are metabolised within muscle tissue, allowing them to be used as energy by muscle cells to harvest cellular energy in the form of ATP. ATP is the fundamental source of energy that fuels muscle contractions & allows you to lift weights. The fact that Leucine, Isoleucine, & Valine are metabolised within muscle tissue allows them to become a rapid energy source when the body requires it. There is a powerful increase in BCAA metabolism during lengthened exercise simply because the body needs more energy during periods of stress, such as training. This makes BCAA’s incredibly effective when taken around the time of your workout routine.

Despite their structural similarities, the three branched-chain amino acids each have different metabolic pathways. The breakdown of Leucine is accomplished purely through fat pathways. Valine is broken down entirely by carbohydrate pathways, & Isoleucine through both. The different metabolic avenues of these three amino acids lead to varying requirements for each.

rack of weights.

How they Help with training

Enhancing performance during training is of the highest importance no matter what goal you are trying to achieve. If you’re an athlete, better efficiency will help you in your sport of choice during both training & competition. Raising your performance levels is just as important to bodybuilders since the improved physical capabilities translates into more weight lifted for a greater amount of reps, which eventually transcends into more muscle growth.

BCAA’s have been accredited in many studies to be a potent performance enhancer, they act as a great energy source for working muscles because of their unique metabolism. Not only can BCAA’s be used as energy themselves but they also enhance fat oxidation in glycogen-depleted subjects. This allows individuals to work harder for much longer without reaching fatigue due to the higher energy demands being met. This can be said for both high-intensity training as well as endurance training.

Best time to take them

You will find the harder and longer you are exercising for the more BCAA’s will be used for energy. So, you can see how taking a dose of BCAA’s before training can help you maintain your energy levels during exercise and train with more focus and power from start to finish. Add approximately 5 to 10 grams to your pre-workout drink before you start your session for optimal performance.

Once you have finished your workout try adding approximately another 5 to 10 grams to your post-workout shake to promote muscle recovery and growth. When training hard in the gym you lose a lot of BCAA’s so replacing those lost BCAA’s post-workout becomes incredibly important and also helps keep your body anabolic and minimise protein breakdown.

One of the lesser-known times to supplement with BCAA’s is when you first wake up in the morning to help stop the muscle breakdown that is switched on during the night of fasting while you sleep.

The Science

In 2000, a study wrote in the Journal of Sports Medicine & Physical Fitness found that taking BCAA reduced the serum levels of creatine phosphokinase (CPK) & lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) in test subjects. CPK & LDH are commonly used in medical testing as indicators of muscle damage & tissue breakdown. A reduction in the levels of these two enzymes displays that BCAA’s diminish the amount of exercise-induced muscle damage in the human body. In comparison to the control group, the study found that the group that supplemented with BCAA’s had significantly lower indicators of muscle damage for up to 5 days after their workouts.

Additionally, a study divulged in the American Journal of Physiology found that BCAA’s interrupted muscle protein breakdown by saving essential amino acids in muscle tissue. In other words, BCAA supplementation likely improves recovery time by curtailing the amount of damage caused during exercise. This is particularly useful for athletes who are in the middle of high volume training plans. The protein sparing effects of BCAA’s can allow us to train harder & more commonly while allowing for greater recovery & adaptation.

women working out with weight plate.

Fat loss with BCAA’s

BCAA’s are a must have supplement during any fat loss programme because of the muscle conserving effects. On any calorie decreased plan, losing muscle mass is a serious concern that must be addressed. All of the positive effects that BCAA’s have on muscle growth will also help to aid in protecting muscle wastage during periods of calorie restriction. The power of BCAA’s to prevent the breakdown of muscle protein is multiplied. As we diet & our body fat drops, fewer calories are accessible through food or stored body fat, our body will turn to our hard-acquired muscle as the present source of energy.

The body breaks down muscle tissue into its amino acid components to use as energy. Supplementing with BCAA’s provides the body with an incredible source of energy for the body to use as soon as possible instead of catabolising muscle. This also affects the signalling to the muscles that inhibits their breakdown for energy needs.

One final important advantage of supplementing with BCAA’s on a calorie-reduced diet plan is the considerate effect they have on brain signalling that both increases metabolism & decreases appetite.

A study released in December 2012 by the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of Texas outlined that branched-chain amino acids, particularly Leucine, had a profound effect on the anabolic actions of the mTOR pathway to muscles. In addition to this, BCAA’s have an outstanding effect on both insulin sensitivity & interact with the brains chemical serotonin to reduce hunger & cravings.

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