What is BCAA and how to take it

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BCAA is a complex of essential amino acids. The body cannot produce them on its own, which is why many athletes choose to take them as a supplement. This allows them to improve the results of their training and quickly achieve a beautiful body relief. The abbreviation stands for and translates from English as “branched-chain amino acids.

As you know, proteins are vital for the normal functioning of the body. They are made up of amino acids, which is why athletes looking to build muscle and lose fat often take amino acid supplements. Essential amino acids can also be obtained from food, so proper protein-rich nutrition is an important step towards a beautiful body. For BCAAs to be beneficial, they must be taken correctly, and the dosage should be calculated and combined with physical activity.

The composition of the dietary supplement

BCAA is a complex of amino acids that can cause noticeable changes in the body, especially in terms of weight loss and muscle building. BCAA supplements contain three essential amino acids:

  1. Valine: It is an important element for the recovery and growth of muscle tissue. It can significantly reduce the healing time of tissues in case of muscle injuries during training. Valine also prevents the breakdown of protein in the muscles during physical exertion.
  2. Leucine: It is necessary for normalizing glucose levels, is involved in the synthesis of growth hormone, and contributes to the restoration of both muscle and bone tissues.
  3. Isoleucine: Helps to energize and increase endurance, extending training time and increasing its effectiveness. It also reduces recovery time after muscle tissue damage.

For those who exercise regularly, leucine is especially important because its concentration in the muscles decreases significantly after exercise. Leucine is also an important source of ATP.

Sometimes, other ingredients like vitamins and sweeteners are added to the composition.

BCAA’s effects

BCAAs are primarily used by people who are actively involved in sports and want to increase the effectiveness of their training. For example, people who want to lose weight often take the supplement. The amino acids in the dietary supplement can normalize blood sugar levels, reducing appetite. However, this does not mean that you can just take BCAAs and wait for weight loss; it is effective when combined with sufficient physical activity.

BCAA supplements are taken for the following effects:

  1. Prevention of muscle breakdown during grueling workouts.
  2. Rapid growth of muscle mass (during the “cutting” phase, when you aim for pronounced muscle definition).
  3. Reducing the amount of adipose tissue in the body.
  4. Increase in strength indicators.
  5. Maintaining immunity.
  6. Protein synthesis and muscle growth.
  7. Increased effectiveness when taking other sports nutrition.

Combining BCAAs with thoughtful training will allow you to achieve a six-pack and well-defined muscles in a shorter time.

Although obtaining essential amino acids from food is possible through sources like meat and eggs, with active physical exertion, a considerable amount of protein is required, and not everyone can consume enough protein-rich foods. Additionally, proteins from food break down faster than those from supplements.

Despite the fact that the supplement is taken for muscles, its important role in supporting immunity should not be forgotten. Active and exhausting workouts can lead to immune system disruption and reduce the body’s resistance to various infections.

These amino acids are useful not only for athletes but also for everyone to produce insulin and sufficient energy. Additionally, BCAA is a component for the formation of other amino acids in the body.

Benefits and risks

The benefits of BCAA are obvious, but the supplement is most useful when there is a pronounced protein deficiency, such as during high physical exertion. Uncontrolled intake of the supplement can lead to side effects. In some cases, athletes cannot take whey protein due to intolerance, and in such situations, BCAAs are especially recommended.

For workouts lasting more than an hour, supplements are necessary to prevent muscle fatigue and damage. This applies to any type of training, whether it’s skiing, running, exercising in the gym, cycling, etc.

The main benefits of BCAAs are as follows:

  1. Restoration of muscle tissue.
  2. Increased endurance.
  3. Protein synthesis.
  4. Fat burning.

Experts emphasize that supplements should not replace a healthy diet. To maintain normal protein levels, you need to include chicken meat, eggs, and dairy products in your diet. A large dose of amino acids should come from the diet, and any deficiency should be replenished in the form of supplements.

In fact, synthetic BCAA is no different from the amino acids that the body receives from food, so negative reactions to the supplement are extremely rare. The only side effect that may occur with improper intake is gastrointestinal disorders.

With proper intake and adherence to dosages, risks are minimized. Harm from BCAAs can occur if a low-quality product is purchased or if the supplement is excessively used for a prolonged period without adequate physical activity.

If you purchase BCAAs from an unverified store, you may encounter an expired product or impurities harmful to the body. Therefore, the choice of a sports nutrition store must be approached carefully. Be cautious if the cost of the additive is significantly lower than the market price.

Exceeding the recommended dosage can lead to gastrointestinal disturbances and decreased absorption of amino acids from food. As a rule, the optimal dosage is indicated on the package, and it is not recommended to exceed it.

How to take?

It is worth remembering that the dosage in most cases is selected individually based on height, weight, physical activity, and the body’s protein needs. It is necessary to consult a trainer and a doctor if there are any health problems. In most cases, athletes are prescribed a dose of 20-25 g per day.

The daily dosage should be divided and taken 2-5 times during the day. You can take the supplement before or during training, depending on your preferences and goals. If you are planning a long and exhausting workout, it is beneficial to take a small amount of BCAAs before the session to increase endurance and provide extra energy.

Increasing the dosage should only be done after consulting with a trainer, for example, before important competitions or during more intense training periods.

It is worth remembering to take BCAAs not only on days of active sports but also on rest days when the muscles are recovering. On such days, the dosage is usually halved and taken in the morning between meals. Some athletes also drink the supplement during and after training and before bedtime, as it activates various processes in the body.

While there are practically no contraindications, it is strongly not recommended to combine BCAAs with alcohol. Caution should be exercised when taking the supplement for people with serious kidney disease. Additionally, BCAAs should not be given to children due to the effects on growth hormone.

Release forms

BCAAs are available from several manufacturers in tablet or powder form. The most common forms of the supplement are:

  1. Powder: This is a cost-effective form of the supplement, but it requires careful measurement of the amount of BCAA to ensure accuracy. However, there are some disadvantages to consider. For instance, synthetic powder may not dissolve well in liquids and may have an unpleasant taste. Some athletes prefer not to dissolve the powder but to put it on the tongue and drink it with water. For better dissolution, the powder can be added to a cocktail during its preparation in a shaker.
  2. Capsules: Many athletes find this form of release the most convenient. The dosage is easy to calculate, and there is no unpleasant taste. Carrying capsules is also much easier than carrying powder or liquid supplements that could potentially spill. Capsules are usually available in 5 g doses. Throughout the day, several capsules can be taken to ensure the daily dose does not exceed 25 g.
  3. Tablets: This is another popular release form. Swallowing several tablets is easier than measuring out powder and trying to dissolve it. However, unlike capsules, compressed powder tablets dissolve more slowly in the stomach. The maximum daily dose should not exceed 25 tablets, and typically, 4-5 tablets are taken at a time.

Individuals can choose the release form that suits them best. Beginners often choose tablets as they are easy to consume and have a fixed dosage.

The use of BCAA for weight loss

People who want to achieve their desired physique faster, reduce body fat, and build muscle often turn to sports, diets, and sports nutrition to expedite this process.

It should be noted that BCAAs do not act as standard fat burners, but this complex is involved in the synthesis of an important hormone called leptin, which regulates metabolism in the body. The amount of leptin in the body influences appetite and the accumulation of adipose tissue.

Strict diets often fail to deliver the desired results due to the lack of this hormone. When the amount of adipose tissue decreases, the production of the hormone also slows down, resulting in a decreased metabolism.

Taking BCAAs along with proper nutrition and exercise allows for faster weight loss without suffering from increased appetite. Essentially, the amino acids that regulate blood sugar levels make the body think that any food (including chicken breast) is high in calories. As a result, appetite decreases, and a person reduces their usual portions, leading to improved metabolism.

How to choose the right supplement?

First and foremost, one must consider the quality of the supplement. BCAAs should only be purchased from trusted stores. To distinguish a high-quality supplement from a low-quality one, consider the following recommendations:

  1. If the powder dissolves easily and quickly in water, it is likely to be impure BCAA. High-quality powder leaves a small film on the surface of the liquid.
  2. The taste is also a determining factor. BCAAs usually have a bitter taste due to the included amino acids. If the supplement has a sweet taste or no taste at all, it may not be of good quality. For capsules, taste is not an issue, but you can open the capsule and taste the powder inside.
  3. The packaging must be intact and properly sealed. Examine the packaging carefully for any signs of damage.
  4. Always check the expiration date before making a purchase.

Also, when choosing a supplement, consider the form (powder is more difficult to consume due to taste and the need for precise dosage measurement), price, brand, and amino acid ratio. Trainers often recommend specific manufacturers based on their experience and knowledge.

In conclusion, BCAAs are valuable supplements for athletes and individuals engaged in regular physical activity. When taken correctly and in appropriate dosages, they can help with muscle building, weight loss, and overall well-being. However, it is crucial to remember that they should not replace a balanced and healthy diet. For best results, combine BCAAs with proper nutrition and regular exercise to achieve your fitness goals effectively and safely. Always consult with a trainer and, if necessary, a doctor before starting any supplement regimen.

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