For athletes, adventurers, and others who like to push the limits of their performance, constantly looking for ways to remain in peak condition becomes a necessity. The optimized workout routine. The tailored diet. Dialing up the resistance during training. These are the tools we use to become more capable and more competitive. The use of performance supplements is another example, and branched chain amino acids, or BCAAs, is popular among bodybuilders and endurance athletes alike.
So what are BCAAs all about? Here’s the breakdown.
Let’s start with the big picture. So muscle tissue is made of protein, and protein is made of amino acids. There are some amino acids made by your body, and others - known as essential amino acids, which must be obtained from other sources, such as food or supplements. Of the essential amino acids, three of them have a molecular structure with a side chain of one carbon and three hydrogen atoms. Because of this feature, they have been given the name “branched chain amino acids”. Their names are leucine, isoleucine and valine.
There are several reasons why a serious athlete would consider taking BCAAs. They are building blocks for protein, which is so important for muscles working under the stresses of training.
BCAAs have been linked to decreased soreness and shortened recovery times. During intense workouts and training sessions, tiny tears can form in stressed muscle tissues. These tears often give way to delayed onset soreness. Studies have shown BCAAs to help prevent these tears from forming, which causes less soreness*. Less tearing of the muscle tissue also means less time to heal and be ready for the next challenge*.
Exercise fatigue is another area in which BCAAs can provide an advantage. During intense physical activity, the muscles absorb BCAA, causing levels in the bloodstream drop. Reduced BCAA in the blood unbalances the level of tryptophan, an amino acid which ultimately contributes to fatigue. Taking BCAA shortly before a workout can therefore help to keep you alert and focused*.
One other benefit is that leucine is known to stimulate protein synthesis in the construction of new muscle tissue. While it isn’t used to directly build proteins, it’s more of an “activator” that helps get other amino acids where they need to be in order to build muscle. In other words, in the presence of other amino acids obtained by foods and supplements, it helps to speed up the muscle-building process.
Because BCAAs are essential amino acids, we must get them from foods or supplements. Meats, including beef, poultry and fish are all sources of BCAAs, as are eggs, milk, and other dairy products. They are also found in plant-based foods including beans, wheat, chickpeas, nuts, brown rice and corn.
It’s pretty easy to see why you wouldn’t want to eat a big steak right before working out. A supplement can be just what’s needed to get the desired BCAA levels to support your training. Our PRIMER effervescent tabs each deliver 3.64 grams in a glass of water, helping you stay light on your feet and hydrated to boot. Vegetarians, vegans and those with other dietary restrictions will also appreciate our natural, plant-based sources of BCAAs which are carefully cultivated and more environmentally friendly.
It doesn’t get more convenient than this. Take them anywhere, drop a few in your water bottle, and crush your training knowing that you’ll be able to come back strong for next time. Try it now!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. Protekt products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.