BCAAs are arguably one of the most mysterious supplements. While many people know about the existence of BCAAs, they don’t know what they do. BCAAs are an incredibly effective supplement when taken at the right time and in the right amount.
Branched Chained Amino Acids (BCAAs) got their name because, from a chemical structure standpoint, they have forked outcroppings which look like a branch. Leucine, isoleucine, and valine are the three essential amino acids forming BCAAs.
In a study, the trained triathlete who consumed BCAA supplements for eight weeks gained about twice as much muscle mass and strength as compared to the athletes who only took a whey protein supplement without additional BCAAs. The results rely a lot on the time you consume the supplement so you should know when to take BCAA supplements.
Difference Between Amino Acids and Branched Chained Amino Acids
Most people have a hard time differentiating between amino acids and branched chained amino acids. Both these supplements are processed uniquely by your body and have different effects on your physique. Understanding the difference between them can tell you when to take BCAA supplements.
As you probably already know, your muscles are made up of protein. Protein is further made up of amino acids which look like a pearl necklace. If you want to build muscle, you want this pearl necklace to get bigger so your body can make more protein. This process of converting amino acids into protein is known as protein synthesis.
The BCAAs are indispensable components in the aforementioned process of converting amino acids into protein. They act as the building blocks for building muscle. Each of the three branched chained amino acids plays a vital role in this process.
When you consume amino acids, they go directly to your liver. In the liver, they are either converted into fuel to be used as energy by your body or are passed for building and repairing muscle. Your muscles will only receive the amino acids if they’re not converted into energy.
BCAAs are treated differently. They are not sent to the liver and head straight to your muscles where the muscles use them as fuel or to build and repair themselves. This is the reason BCAAs have grown in popularity in the bodybuilding community.
Role of The Three Amino Acids
Why and when to take BCAA supplements has a lot to do with the role they play in bodybuilding. Apart from being effective at muscle growth, BCAAs help in delaying fatigue during your workouts, boost fat loss and supports strength and mental focus. Each of the three essential amino acids plays a specific role in the supplement.
Leucine helps with protein synthesis and leads to muscle growth. Leucine is the main essential amino acid which starts the process of combining amino acids to produce muscle protein.
Leucine also boosts insulin levels which are an anabolic hormone which further stimulates protein synthesis. Furthermore, it boosts growth hormone which promoted muscle growth and reduces cortisol levels which break down muscle.
It is a known fact protein synthesis can help fight body fat. BCAAs increase the protein synthesis in your body which in turn increases your energy expenditure so much that it helps in burning body fat.
Isoleucine activates special receptors known as PPAR which increase the fat burning process in your body and inhibit fat storage. When you supplement with isoleucine, your body starts using the stored fats as fuel.
The amino acid tryptophan is responsible for producing serotonin which signals to the brain that the body is fatigued. The BCAA valine actively competes with tryptophan for entry into the brain.
Consuming valine before a workout can delay fatigue and reduce the amount of tryptophan in your brain. This shows that BCAAs don’t only improve your body function, but also your mental capabilities. They help you stay sharper and improve your cognitive abilities.