Whatever your reasons are for trying to exercise, you probably share one goal with the vast majority of other Americans: you want to build and strengthen muscle mass. The most important nutrient for that, of course, is protein. However, what you may not be aware of are the micro-nutrients your body requires to help it efficiently synthesize the protein you eat and turn it into muscular growth. Here, a personal trainer from Atlanta David Reagan shares the health benefits of branched-chain amino acids for bodybuilders.
So Why Do We Need Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA's)?
Amino acids, namely leucine, isoleucine, and valine, have the specific task of helping your muscles take the protein you eat and build muscle during recovery. BCAA's are found in protein-rich foods such as meat, seafood, and eggs, and generally speaking, if you eat enough protein, you're probably getting enough BCAA's.
However, if you follow a strict exercise regimen or you're trying to build more muscle, you may find a BCAA supplement useful. In general, most people will be fine if they get between 5 and 15 grams of BCAA's as a part of their normal diet, but athletes or fitness enthusiasts may need up to 20 grams to help hit their goals.
BCAA's can provide numerous benefits to you, to such an extent that it can be beneficial to track and make sure you get enough each day. As discussed above, BCAA's are essential to the body's muscular growth and repair processes. Muscle fibers that are torn during exercise have to be rebuilt during recovery, and the general idea behind fitness is that the body needs to make them stronger in order to handle the next workout. BCAA's help open specific pathways in the body to synthesize the protein used during recovery in a more efficient and effective way.
BCAA's can also help reduce muscle soreness and fatigue, both during the workout and during recovery. BCAA's have been shown to reduce the damage to muscle that occurs during a workout, thus aiding in the recovery process and reducing soreness levels. This can help you stay more active during your off days, decrease the discomfort associated with a tough workout, and get you back in the game sooner.
A real problem while on a fitness regimen, especially if you do a lot of steady-state cardio, is muscle wasting. During cut phases, bodybuilders and athletes try and cut fat while preserving muscle, a difficult task since the body is naturally inclined to burn muscle for energy. This is also a problem associated with doing too much steady-state cardio. BCAA's help the body hold on to that muscle and burn fat for energy instead.
BCAA's can be a good supplement to take if you're interested in building muscle and preserving the muscle you've already got. Research has indicated that you need to take BCAA's for a long period of time, longer than 10 days, to see any real benefits of them, and it's split on when is the best time to take them. Generally speaking, within an hour of a strenuous workout has been shown to have some positive effects on long-term muscle growth. While the science is still out on the particulars of how BCAA's function, they're something worth looking into if your goal is to build muscle and reach your fitness goals.