Those concerned with their physical fitness find all sorts of ways to improve their strength, speed, endurance, and stamina. Protein supplements are among the most common of these methods; everyone from professional athletes to casual gym members has tried a protein shake at some point, and many rely on these products to add some muscle-building nutrients to their diet. In recent years, however, protein supplements have been getting replaced in many a supplement regimen; this is thanks to the emergence of amino acid-based products as a newer, more advanced form of fitness supplement. Amino acid supplements are lean and efficient, and they are often formulated around a group of compounds called BCAAs. But what are these BCAAs, and can you use them while fasting to improve your training results? To find out, keep reading as the people at aminoVITAL® provide some answers.
How BCAAs Help with Training
Most people have heard the term “amino acids” sometime in their lives, even if it was years ago in some high school biology classroom. What is less clear to many is how these natural organic compounds can be used to improve athletic performance and enhance the benefits of training and exercise.
Of the 20 amino acids our bodies need to function, there are nine that are considered essential because our bodies can’t produce them on their own; these amino acids must be obtained by eating protein-rich foods or taking supplements. Among the nine essential amino acids, there are three in particular – the branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs – that are especially effective at improving the results of training.
The Three BCAAs
The first of the BCAAs, leucine, is the amino acid responsible for telling your body to make new muscle tissue. This is ideal for those looking to improve their strength or build bigger muscles; without leucine, you might not see any gains at all.
The second BCAA, isoleucine, is more about promoting endurance than strength, though it can also trigger some amount of muscle synthesis. Isoleucine works to promote the absorption and use of glucose – the body’s main form of energy – by the muscles, helping you power through your workout more effectively. Plus, isoleucine has been known to improve post-workout recovery times, so you’ll be ready for the gym again that much sooner.
The third of the BCAAs, valine, is helpful more as a preventative measure than anything else. Valine works to prevent excessive muscle damage during exercise, so you can preserve your muscle mass as much as possible and limit your soreness and fatigue. Valine also helps regulate a number of important systems in the body, such as the digestive system and cognitive functions.
Amino Acids vs. Protein Supplements
While each BCAA offers a significant benefit, the true advantages of amino acid supplements extend beyond those listed above. That’s because amino acids require far less work on the part of your digestive system; while whole proteins must be broken down via digestion before their amino acids can be used, the free-form amino acids in BCAA supplements require very little time before they are absorbed and begin offering support to the muscles – part of why they make for such good pre-, mid-, and post-workout fitness supplements.
Amino acid supplements are also generally much leaner than their protein-based counterparts. Look at the label on most popular brands of protein powder and you’ll likely see a heaping helping of calories and sugar, neither of which are helpful when lean muscle is your goal. BCAA supplements from aminoVITAL®, on the other hand, contain very few calories and virtually no sugar (only our Rapid Recovery mix has any, and it’s only 2 grams), making them much leaner and healthier than products made from whole proteins.
Using BCAA Supplements While Fasting
The extent to which you can use BCAAs during a fast will largely depend on the type of fast and how strict you are in your observance of it. There are those who insist that taking in even a single calorie will break a fast; if this applies to you, then an amino acid supplement (or most supplements, for that matter) may not be appropriate.
However, if you are on a calorie-restricted diet, such as one where you consume only about 500 calories on a fast day, then an amino acid supplement would be ideal since these products have so few calories. And even if you’re not eating for the day, those who allow minuscule amounts of calories during their fast – such as the 5 calories found in a cup of coffee – would probably be fine using a low-calorie 15-calorie Action intra-workout supplement; both of this product has only a single gram of carbs and no sugar at all, just vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Ultimately, whether you choose to take in calories during your fast will be up to you. Just keep in mind that BCAA supplements come with far fewer calories, carbs, or sugars than even the leanest protein powder, making them a superior choice for those on a calorie-restricted diet.
Lean, Effective Amino Acid Supplements to Help You Train from aminoVITAL®
Whether you practice some form of intermittent fasting or another type of extremely low-calorie diet, you may want to consider using BCAA supplements from aminoVITAL®. All of our products are made with high-quality vegan amino acids to provide effective, fast-acting support for your muscles without undermining your overall health and fitness goals. To find out more about amino acid supplements, including how they might fit into periods of fasting, visit aminoVITAL® online or call (888) 264-6673 today.