Sport is part of a healthy and vital lifestyle for many people. The passion for it is quickly ignited. Once it has grabbed you, immerse yourself deeper and deeper into the matter. Fitness is not just about going to the gym or working out at home. Sports nutrition also plays an important role. If you are concerned with the topic of muscle building, you have to deal with terms such as protein, amino acids, and BCAA.
But there is a great deal of confusion about BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids), as there are many prejudices that make fitness beginners uneasy. The wide range of different amino acids and their ratio makes the jungle even more confusing.
Top 10 BCAA Products
What are BCAAs?
Branched-chain Amino Acids are behind the abbreviation BCAA. To German: branched-chain amino acids. Among them are three of the eight essential amino acids that the human body can not produce itself, but must absorb from the outside with the food. Another special feature is that they are not metabolized in the liver like the other protein components, but in other types of tissue.
Why are BCAAs so important?
Amino acids are the small building blocks of which proteins are made. Altogether there are 20 small building blocks. Twelve of these can be produced by our bodies themselves. The remaining eight must be supplied through the diet or via supplements from the outside through food or dietary supplements.
Proteins are involved in a variety of physical processes :
- Shaping the cells
- Transport of oxygen in the blood
- Storage of certain substances
- Motility of the muscles
- Part of the immune system
- Blood clotting and wound healing
- Structure of the body, including skin, hair, muscles
The branched-chain amino acids play the biggest role in the energy supply and the prevention of muscle breakdown in the catabolic metabolism. The L-leucine, for example, ensures that the protein metabolism is stimulated. This leads to a faster buildup of new muscle tissue.
L-isoleucine accelerates regeneration after exercise and boosts the calorie deficit in gluconeogenesis. In this process, sugar is produced in the liver as an energy source if the food is not supplied with sufficient energy. L-valine improves the uptake of other amino acids and is a precursor to the main neurotransmitter glutamate. In addition, L-valine also provides energy production in a caloric deficit.
Which BCAA products are there?
Pure BCAA tastes very bitter. So that you can still consume it with pleasure, the manufacturers process the amino acids further to:
- Powder in different flavors
- BCAA powder
This is a soluble powder, which is enriched with flavorings. Thus, a wide variety of flavor variations are possible. The BCAA powder is dissolved in water. For the correct dosage, a dosing spoon is usually available, with which you can easily and quickly measure the recommended portion size.
- BCAA Capsules
If you choose capsules, you do not have to mix a BCAA shake for a long time, but you can comfortably take a few capsules with enough fluid. The shell is often made of gelatin. But there are some manufacturers who also make the shell of vegetable matter, so you can also take them if you want to avoid animal ingredients. The cover is necessary so that you can consume the BCAA powder without the unpleasant taste.
- BCAA tablets
The tablets, like the capsules, can be taken with enough liquid without first having to prepare a shake. The tablets have no shell, so you can easily share them when swallowing large tablets or capsules. Because of the missing shell, it can come to a funny aftertaste.
How do BCAAs work?
If you want to lose fat and build muscle at the same time, you will soon find out that the body prefers to break down the muscles instead of going to the fat reserves. The reason for this is that the body recovers proteins through muscle breakdown, which it can use as an energy source. For the caloric deficit lacks sufficient energy suppliers.
BCAAs can help here. If you consume a sufficient amount of branched-chain amino acids during the diet or definition phase, the body does not need to break down hard-mass muscle but can access the amino acids in the blood. They also protect against muscle breakdown in long and intense workouts.
When do BCAA products make sense?
Branched Chain Amino Acids can be used as a dietary supplement as well as various natural foods. Many athletes, however, refrain from eating before meals on lush meals. Either to not feel stressed during the exercise session or because they pay attention to their calorie intake. So that the body still sufficient energy and the necessary protein building blocks are available, can be used on BCAA supplements. The same is true after exercise when a long time passes between the end of the workout and the post-workout meal. BCAAs can be useful for:
- Protection against muscle loss
- Promotion of fat loss
- Increase in muscle build-up
- More energy and performance in training
When should you take BCAAs?
If you read the recommendations for taking the supplement manufacturers, you will soon find that you can take the amino acids at any time. Before training, after training, at bedtime and also on training-free days. But when is the right time for the BCAAs?
This question can only be answered with your training goal. Depending on when you take the amino acids, they have a different effect on your body.
- BCAAs before the workout
If you take the essential amino acids before training, they will be protective during exercise. The body immediately has energy suppliers available, which it can utilize, so you have enough strength and endurance during your workout. Even if you want to do sports in the morning or do not want to eat in front of the sports unit, it makes sense to take the BCAAs before training. Before exercise, the amino acids are not only important for strength training, but also for endurance units . Especially if they take more than an hour.
- BCAAs after training
If you focus on building muscle, on the other hand, it makes more sense to take BCAA after training. They thus stimulate protein biosynthesis after the sports unit. This process refers to the formation of new proteins in the muscle. If you deliver the necessary protein building blocks at this time, your body will be able to incorporate them into your muscles more easily. The result of this is the stronger structure of the trained muscles.
Which foods contain BCAAs?
Branched-chain amino acids are not just found in tablets, powders or capsules. They are also contained in natural foods. Sports nutrition should consist of as many healthy and largely natural foods as possible. If you are careful, using the right foods should not be a problem for you to fill your need for branched-chain amino acids and other protein building blocks. Fish and meat dishes are known to contain a high amount of amino acids. Especially tuna turns out to be a true gold mine.
On 100 grams come:
- 2,170 milligrams of leucine
- 1,320 milligrams of isoleucine
- 1,680 milligrams of valine
Other animal foods also have a high proportion of BCAAs:
- Wild salmon
- turkey meat
Contrary to popular belief, vegetarians and vegans can also meet their BCAA needs with natural foods. Cereals and legumes, in particular, are a popular BCAA source for those who want to avoid animal products. Millet in particular, with 1,400 milligrams of leucine per 100 grams, is a valuable source. Other BCAA-rich foods:
Why should you take BCAA supplements?
Balanced and healthy sports nutrition can meet the protein needs and essential amino acid needs. BCAA-rich foods are often high in calories and require time to prepare. If you want to lose weight and build muscle at the same time, you need a calorie deficit. Many therefore prefer to abstain from a meal and supplement the necessary BCAAs with a shake or a capsule or tablet. That also saves you time.
Another reason why BCAAs are taken in isolation before exercise is that the shake or tablets are easy to digest because no other substances such as fats or carbohydrates are included. This means that you can exercise carefree and yet your body quickly has the energy that it needs.
Which BCAA composition makes sense?
To find out the optimal composition of the individual essential amino acids, it is important to know the physical reactions to BCAA.
Too high a concentration of BCAA in the blood can have a toxic effect on the nervous system of our body. The BCAAs are not first metabolized in the liver after being absorbed into the blood. Instead, they are transported directly to the needy types of fabric.
Mostly these are the muscles. If the muscles do not need the existing BCAA, they remain in the bloodstream and could lead to an increased BCAA concentration that could damage the nervous system. So that does not happen, the body has a mechanism in itself, which degrades the surplus amino acids by different enzymes gradually.
When will BCAAs take effect?
If you take the branched-chain amino acids as a dietary supplement, you act from the first intake. There is no need to build a mirror through longer intake times. Since these essential protein building blocks are not first metabolized in the liver but are transported to the target organ after ingestion, there is little time difference between taking the dietary supplement and the effect. Nevertheless, it depends on the form in which you take the BCAA.
If you drink a shake, your body can absorb the ingredients very quickly because water has a very short stay in the stomach. The situation is different with the tablets or capsules. Here, the stomach must first split up the chewy preparations before the ingredients come to light. In this process, tablets dissolve faster than capsules. The shell of the latter is often decomposed only in the small intestine. This means that it may even take a few hours for the BCAA from the capsules to be available to your body.
With this knowledge, you can better plan the intake of your supplements. If you use BCAA powder, it is sufficient to drink the shake just before the required dose. For tablets, you should take them up to about 30 minutes before you need them. If you use capsules, you should take them about one to two hours before you need them.