You might have heard about BCAA’s before, but you are not quite sure what they are all about? Well, we have put together this short guide to educate you more on the subject. Take a seat, because the CHROME BCAA class is about to start. BCAA supplements started entering the fitness industry around 1998, but only became popular in the 2000’s. BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids) are essential amino acids consisting out of 3 amino acids namely; leucine, iso-leucine and valine. If we say that the amino acids are essential, it means that the body can’t make them on their own. Let’s have a closer look at these 3 amino acids.

LEUCINE:

Of the 3 branched chain amino acids, leucine is considered the most potent, and any BCAA product will always consist out of more leucine that its counterparts, iso-leucine and valine.

SOME BENEFITS OF LEUCINE:

  • Can help to preserve lean muscle tissue
  • Can help to supply energy to your muscles, when they are under extreme stress
  • Helps with protein synthesis
  • Aids in muscle recovery

It also helps to uphold nitrogen balance which is essential for the maintenance of muscle tissue. According to Phd. Jim Stoppani, leucine acts like the key to an ignition of a car, the car being the muscle cell or fibre and key being leucine. Leucine activates a complex called m-TOR, which increases protein synthesis in the muscle cell.

Leucine also helps spike insulin levels. Now, in a way this doesn’t sound great, as you are aware that irregular spikes in insulin can cause your body to store fat, unless, you can manipulate it to happen at the right times, like before and after training. See, insulin is not always a bad thing; in fact, it’s actually a very potent muscle building hormone. Insulin can help drive glucose straight into the muscles where they can aid in recovery and the replenishing of glycogen!

ISO-LEUCINE:

When it comes to building muscle, Iso-leucine is not as essential as leucine itself, but it still plays a critical role in maintaining your health, vitality and well-being.

SOME BENEFITS OF ISO-LEUCINE:

  • It can help repair muscle tissue after surgery or trauma
  • Can help regulate blood sugar levels
  • In some cases it can help increase endurance and energy

VALINE:

This amino can help prevent muscle breakdown because it actually helps to supply the muscle with extra glucose which is used during physical activity. You will notice that on most supplement products, the ratio between valine and iso-leucine is almost the same if not exactly the same. Now that we have talked about the 3 different amino acids individually, let’s have a look at how they work together and why they are so essential when it comes to physical fitness and performance.

BCAA 101

Okay, so what makes amino acids like BCAA’s so special? Well, the way your body handles, absorbs and digests them does. Amino acids when ingested firstly travel to the liver where they get converted into fuel for the body and your muscles. But, BCAA’s get sent straight to the muscle cells within seconds after ingesting them. From here, the muscles decide what to do with them. They are either used to repair muscle or they get used as energy in physical activity like lifting weights, running etc. So if we look at what is said, BCAA’s act as an immediate resource for your muscles, whether they want to use them to repair the muscle itself, or to use them for energy. This is usually why it’s so critical to take them before and after workouts.

BCAA’S AND YOUR HORMONES

Knowing that BCAA’s can start working within seconds after ingesting them, makes it a pretty useful supplement source, but that’s not the only cool feature. BCAA’s also have an effect on your body’s hormones, and when I’m talking about hormones, I’m talking about the king of muscle-building hormones, testosterone.

According to studies BCAA’s can have an effect on your testosterone levels pre-workout. Now as soon as you hit the gym, your testosterone levels start rising naturally, and after 60-90 minutes in the gym, they start dropping back to normal levels, however, supplementing with BCAA’s has shown to keep your testosterone levels elevated meaning you can train for longer, which is a huge benefit if your testosterone levels are still elevated.

But wait there’s more… BCAA’s also helps to improve the body’s testosterone to cortisol levels. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone. Although cortisol is a catabolic hormone, it still plays critical roles in our bodies. However, raised cortisol levels can work against your fitness goals, and can eventually force your body to start using its hard earned muscle as energy. Basically BCAA’s can help prevent this while keeping your body in an anabolic state.

BCAA’S CAN ASSIST IN FAT LOSS

As if there isn’t enough benefits already! BCAA’s can also aid in weight loss goals. It is a bit uncertain how BCAA’s assist in fat loss, but there are tons of theories. According to Phd. Jim Stoppani’s BCAA study; athletes that supplemented with BCAA’s lost twice the amount of fat then those only supplementing with whey protein that had no added BCAA’s. Subjects also seemed to particularly lose more body fat around the waist area, compared to those taking a placebo.

So, if your goal is to drop body fat, BCAA’s are definitely something to include! However, you should keep in mind that your overall carbohydrate and calorie intake should also be reduced. Most studies suggest that you supplement with 5-10 grams of BCAA’s per serving, preferably before and after workouts. In some cases you can also take it between meals if you want to curb your hunger or cravings, or if you just need a little energy boost.


SUGGESTED SUPPLEMENTS


BioTech USA Liquid BCAA

This highly bioavailable liquid form of BCAAs has a 2:1:1 ratio of Leucine:Isoleucine:Valine. Liquid BCAA uses liquid technology to ensure absorption in a faster way. Like all BioTech USA products, Liquid BCAA contains only safe and carefully selected nutrients


BioTech USA BCAA Flash Zero

BioTechUSA’s flavoured BCAA Flash Zero amino acid powder contains 2:1:1 ratio of leucine, isoleucine and valine amino acids, which greatly enhance each other’s effect on building muscles and energising, and they have a natural, specific proportion in muscles.


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