Those who follow the most recent sports and fitness trends may have heard the term “BCAA” used in reference to a type of supplement that has been gaining popularity. Amino acids are the hot new item, replacing protein shakes for those who prefer a lighter, fast-acting alternative to calorie-laden powders. Many of these amino acid-based products tout the fact that they contain BCAAs – the acronym for branched-chain amino acids. But what is a BCAA, exactly, and what do these compounds do? To learn more, continue reading as the experts at aminoVITAL provide some answers.
What Is a BCAA?
The acronym BCAA refers to a specific subset of amino acids called branched-chain amino acids, so-called because their chemical structures each feature an arm sticking out to one side. There are three BCAAs – leucine, isoleucine, and valine – all of which are considered essential amino acids, meaning that your body can’t create them on its own and must get them from food or supplements.
Typically, they exist in complete proteins – those from soy or animal-based foods like milk, eggs, and meat – but getting them this way can be inefficient because your body often fails to completely digest protein as it moves through your system. That’s part of why amino acid supplements are superior to traditional protein sources: they don’t need to be broken down and can instead be put to use right away.
Between 35% and 40% of the amino acids in your body are branched-chain amino acids. These compounds are broken down in the muscles instead of the liver, and for that reason, they’re thought to contribute to the production of energy during prolonged physical activity. Some evidence also suggests that they can aid in the regulation of blood sugar levels.
Each BCAA serves a different purpose that helps with exercise performance and post-workout recovery, making them a perfect complement to an active lifestyle. Unlike protein powders, amino acid mixtures reject the excessive calories and sugars in favor of a leaner nutritional profile; in fact, the amino acid formulas from Amino Vital contain only 15 calories per package, and each is sweetened with stevia leaf extract, not sugar or corn syrup.
What Do BCAAs Do for Your Body?
As mentioned above, each BCAA plays a different role in the body; together, they support healthy muscle development and a variety of related processes in the body. Below are some of the ways the three BCAAs improve performance:
- Leucine is perhaps the most powerful of the branched-chain amino acids. It can kick-start the process of muscle synthesis in the body by interacting with an enzyme called a serine-threonine protein kinase, which affects protein creation and cell growth.
- Valine is more of a supporting character in this cast. Its functions are surprisingly diverse; not only can valine help guard against muscle damage during exercise, but it also helps to regulate the immune system, relieve stress, support cognitive functions, and ensure a steady supply of glucose to power muscle tissue.
- Isoleucine is effective at two primary functions: it boosts energy to help you power through your workout and facilitates the repair of muscle tissues that were damaged during physical activity. In other words, it helps you work harder and more often.
As you can see, each of the BCAAs is helpful in its own right; put them together, and you have a powerful source of fuel for the most intense workouts.
How Many BCAAs Should You Take?
The amount of BCAAs you should consume can vary based on your health and fitness objectives. For example, if you want to focus on gaining muscle mass or recovering from your workouts quickly, you will likely need more BCAAs than you can easily get in your diet. As mentioned above, BCAAs can be found in complete proteins, which means any type of protein that contains all nine essential amino acids. For sedentary people, a balanced diet likely contains all the BCAAs they require, but more active individuals probably need more.
The general guidelines for BCAA intake vary depending on the source, but most seem to agree that healthy adults should get 10 to 12 grams of these amino acids per day. However, those involved in consistent physical exertion may need as much as 20 grams per day to properly care for their muscles. To see the greatest returns, try to take your amino acid supplements either immediately before or after your workout.
For a full complement of amino acid supplement choices, take a look at the products offered by Amino Vital. With options designed to cater to every stage of your workout – before, during, and after your activity, whatever it might be – you can be sure your muscles are fueled up and ready to go with amino acid supplements from Amino Vital.
A Full Array of Essential BCAAs Available Today from aminoVITAL
To see the best returns after your workout, you have to make sure your body is properly supplied with everything it needs, not just during your exercise but after it as well. With the unique BCAA blend available from Amino Vital, you can fuel your fitness efforts with one light, convenient, fast-acting product. Try aminoVITAL today, and your muscles will thank you tomorrow. Learn more about all our products by visiting us online or calling (888) 264-6673.