I first learned about BCAA supplements when I embarked on my fitness journey and followed several fitness accounts on IG. I noticed various people posting about consuming BCAAs in relation to exercising, plus talking about their many delicious flavors. When I started working with a macro + training coach, she suggested I add them to my routine. Without giving it much thought, I obliged! Taylor and I were curious about the deeper science behind BCAAs, and today we’re breaking the chain down (haaa) so you can understand the basics.
What are BCAAs?
BCAAs stands for branched-chain amino acids. BCAAs are a group of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They’re called “branched-chain” because of their molecular structure. BCAAs are classified as essential because your body cannot make them. Therefore, BCAAs must be obtained through your diet. Foods like eggs, meat, and dairy products are good sources of BCAAs. It is also common to take BCAAs in a powdery form as a supplement.
What effects do BCAAs have on the body?
BCAAs are the building blocks of proteins. Specifically, they help preserve muscle glycogen stores. Glycogen stores are important because they fuel your muscles for exercise and aid in minimizing protein breakdown during exercise. Because of these qualities, BCAA supplements are said to have many effects on the body, such as reducing fatigue during exercise, reducing muscle soreness, improved muscle recovery, enhanced exercise performance, and muscle growth.
Why should I incorporate BCAAs into my lifestyle?
If you have a well-balanced, nutrient-dense diet, you are most likely getting enough BCAAs. Depending on your fitness goals, the science certainly promotes BCAA supplements as an aid for #gains. Speaking from experience, I certainly felt like BCAAs helped me power through workouts when I drank them at the gym during a workout, and I definitely have noticed their help when excruciatingly sore (#legday).
When should I consume BCAAs?
There is not much research in existence regarding when to take BCAA supplements. The good news is that BCAA supplements have shown to be effective regardless of time consumed, and therefore can be ingested before, during, and after working out.
Do you take BCAAs? Why do you take them? What benefits have you noticed? What are your favorite kind? Hit us up on the ‘Gram or leave us a comment to tell us the scoop on you + BCAAs.
This post is part of our WTF series—where we’ll break down some of the latest food, fitness, and health + wellness trends blowing up your Instagram feed.