Have you ever noticed those people walking around the gym with a shaker full of coloured fluid? Between sets there stopping to sip away on this tasty looking beverage savouring each drop then as the end of the workout draws near they skull down the remnant’s and there on their merry way. Chances are its some sort of branch chain amino acid sports drink, so what is the go and what are BCAA’s ?
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. There are three branch chain amino acids -leucine, isoleucine and valine. BCAA’s are considered essential as the body is unable to make them out of other amino acids, this means they must be ingested through food or supplementation. Food with the highest concentrations of branch chain amino acids includes chicken, beef, salmon, eggs and whey protein.
BCAA’s provide the basis for protein synthesis and energy production, because of this involvement they are important to many metabolic processes. In order for BCAA’s to participate in these processes they must be available to the body, therefore we must consume enough BCAA’s to enable these functions to occur.
Studies suggest that people with a higher BCAA intake in their diet have less body fat, more lean muscle mass and improved overall body composition. BCAA’s increase glucose tolerance which enables greater fat mobilization from a combination of training and diet. BCAA’s support the prevention of post exercise muscle soreness by impeding exercise induced muscle damage, they help to stimulate growth and repair by increasing growth hormone levels whilst lowering cortisol.
Consuming an adequate intake of high quality proteins in your diet will support optimal BCAA uptake, if your training your arse off and feeling fatigued and your muscles are sore for days on end – first look to your nutrition to ensure your diet is high in quality whole food protein sources, obviously make sure you’re not totally overdoing your training regime and then perhaps you could look at an additional BCAA supplement, BCAA’s are often consumed before, during or after your workouts.