Branched chain amino acids have enormously grown in popularity in recent years, especially in the fitness world. Nowadays, apart from being sold separately in BCAA product, they are also added in whey powder products. In fact, there are literally thousands of positive reviews on the Internet about BCAA products.
But can they really live up to the hype? Can professional athletes get the same benefits? Athletes’ goal is to always be better than their last performance. And in order to do so, they are willing to dedicate a lot of effort and time and find any way necessary to improve to their sport-specific skills and their overall strength. Above all, they need to improve their mobility and conditioning.
Many athletes choose to take Performance Enhancing Drugs or PEDs so that they can withstand the physical and psychological burden hard and intense training presents. PEDs can speed up recovery rate, while at the same time improving cardiovascular capability and endurance. However, PEDs are illegal substances and taking them can mean the end of an athlete’s career.
That’s why BCAAs have been proven to be the excellent substitute for PEDs without risking the athlete’s career and reputation. BCAAs are completely legal and can be taken without any kind of legal repercussions. In this article, we’ll go over the basics about BCAAs and what they do in our bodies.
What are BCAAs?
Before we get into their function and the benefits, we need to know what BCAAs actually are. There are 22 amino acids. Nine of them are essential which means that the body can’t produce them on its own. That’s why the only way to get them is through our diet. Three of the essential amino acids are branched chain amino acids. The three are leucine, iso-leucine, and valine. These three have a vital role in our bodies especially among athletes who have bigger requirements than non-athletes since they need to optimize their training.
Of the three, leucine is the most essential
As the years go by athletes are struggling to keep up with other younger athletes up to the point of having to take anabolic steroids and other illegal substances, which shouldn’t be happening. Branched chain amino acids products have a ratio of four to one of Leucine to other BCAAs which can help with muscle development even when used by older athletes.
1. Muscle Recovery
Muscle recovery is the number one ability that BCAAs provide and they are especially helpful after finishing your training. Since BCAAs are also found in cheap whey protein powders and even in foods that you usually eat, you might wonder why you should buy a separate supplement that is much more expensive.
Well, according to nutrition experts, peptide bound BCAAs found in whey powders get into the skeletal muscles at a slower rate. They first need to be processed by the liver if they are to be used by the muscles. One the other hand, BCAAs products when ingested are directly going into the skeletal muscle.
2. They minimize the catabolism of muscles
Another enormous benefit BCAAs provide is that they have the ability to prevent muscle breakdown or catabolism. That’s why they are a great supplement for athletes since they need to maintain a diet with clean foods, which does not provide that many calories, which can make them lose some of the muscle tissue that they have worked so hard for.
What they basically do is they stop muscle catabolism. They lower the protein breakdown rate that is necessary for the muscles to maintain their mass. It’s been shown that BCAA supplements can delay the effect of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) which is happening 24 to 46 hours after your training.
Additionally, athletes that use BCAA products will not have to be worried about overreaching their daily calorie target. Athletes who compete in their respective weight classes can build lean muscle mass and even drop fat at the same time. This can help them maintain the muscle mass despite being in a caloric deficit.
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