Whether you look online or in stores, shelves and websites are full of products claiming to provide energy for every purpose imaginable. The ingredients found in these products run the gamut from herbs and vitamins to stimulants and amino acids, and while some of these options may be able to provide a pick-me-up during times of low energy, certain types of energy drinks are safer or more effective than others. One of the newer types of supplements out there, amino acids – especially branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs – are among the substances that can give you a boost of energy, but how do they work, and how effective are they? To find out more about these products, including if BCAA drinks are good for energy, keep reading as the experts at aminoVITAL® offer some details.
How BCAA Drinks Provide Energy
For most people, the term “amino acid” conjures a faint memory of sitting in a biology classroom back in high school or college (if it triggers any reaction at all). However, these compounds are an essential part of many of the body’s key processes, and their use in fitness supplements has become widespread in recent years. Part of the reason for this explosion in popularity is the fact that BCAAs – a group that comprises the amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine – are a good source of energy during exercise. Below, we’ll discuss exactly how this process works and why BCAA drinks are good for energy.
By Serving as a Fuel Source
When you lift weights, go for a run, or engage in any other kind of prolonged and strenuous physical activity, your body turns to a compound called glycogen for energy. Glycogen is a type of glucose stored in the muscles, which makes it easy for the body to access it and use it as fuel during exercise, but your body’s stores of glycogen are limited, so people who work out tend to exhaust their bodies’ stores during exercise; this phenomenon is sometimes referred to as “hitting the wall.”
Once your muscles have depleted their stores of glycogen, they need some other source of fuel to keep working; this is where BCAA drinks come in. It has been well-documented1 that muscles can use BCAAs – and especially leucine – as an alternative source of fuel when necessary. Through the process of oxidation, these amino acids are broken down, and their components are used to create glucose. During exercise, this glucose then fuels the work done by the body’s muscle cells and allows you to keep working out, even if you’re out of glycogen.
By Fighting Exercise-Induced Fatigue
The other method by which BCAA drinks help you stay energized during exercise is by limiting the onset of central nervous system fatigue, also known simply as central fatigue. This condition has been known to negatively impact a person’s levels of energy and motivation, hindering their athletic performance in the process. However, by ingesting a BCAA drink before or during exercise, evidence2 suggests that a person can slow down the buildup of this fatigue.
The thinking behind using BCAAs to fight fatigue goes like this: Central fatigue is believed to be caused by the accumulation of serotonin – a neurotransmitter – in the brain, which occurs because tryptophan – an amino acid used to create serotonin – crosses the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in greater amounts when you exercise. Under normal circumstances, the movement of tryptophan into the brain is limited by BCAAs, since they compete with tryptophan to cross the BBB, but because your muscles use up much of the BCAAs in your bloodstream when you work out, there is less competition for tryptophan, which can then enter the brain more freely.
By downing a BCAA drink like aminoVITAL®’s Action mid-workout mix, you can restore the levels of BCAAs in your bloodstream, restoring the natural competition at the BBB and limiting the movement of tryptophan into the brain – and, by extension, the amount of serotonin that’s created there. The effect of this BCAA supplementation is that fatigue builds more slowly, allowing you to keep up your energy during long workouts.
When to Take BCAA Drinks for Energy
As with any supplement, the effectiveness of BCAA drinks is largely determined by when you take them. If your goal is to raise or maintain your energy levels during a workout, then your best bet is to take a BCAA drink within 30 minutes of beginning your routine, which can provide you with a boost of energy that won’t give you jitters or cause you to crash the way a stimulant-based pre-workout supplement might.
In addition, you can take a BCAA drink during a workout to combat the onset of fatigue and provide your body with a potent fuel source, helping you to maintain the intensity of your workout. As an added perk, BCAA drinks kick in much more quickly than the effects of protein supplements like whey, and they tend to contain far fewer calories and little to no sugar as well.
Try a BCAA Drink for Greater Energy and Gains During and After a Workout
Whatever your preferred form of exercise or level of activity, BCAA drinks like those from aminoVITAL® can be the source of steady energy you need to get the most out of your workout. Try one of our amino acid supplements today and see the difference for yourself. To learn more about our BCAA-based mid- and post-workout supplements, visit the aminoVITAL® website or call (888) 264-6673 today.