Athletes of all stripes have plenty of reasons to think about their weight, especially in sports that organize competitors into weight classes. It's common practice for fighters, wrestlers, rowers, and gymnasts -- among others -- to drastically reduce their body weight before a competition, often through the use of extreme diets or carefully calibrated meal plans. In such a restrictive environment, many people find themselves wondering if they can continue to use the fitness supplements that help them push through their routines and boost their long-term gains, such as BCAAs.
Should you take BCAA supplements when cutting weight, and if so, when is the best time to use them? Keep reading from the amino acid drink mix experts at aminoVITAL® to find out.
The Benefits of BCAAs
Amino acid supplements may seem like fairly recent additions to the sports nutrition scene, but these products have been used by top athletes for years. Of the 20 amino acids your body uses, only nine must be obtained through food or supplements; these are called the "essential" amino acids. Within this group of nine, however, there is another classification, one of significance to serious athletes and casual gym-goers alike: the BCAAs.
The term "BCAA" comes from the name of this specific type of amino acid, the branched-chain amino acid. BCAAs are generally accepted as an effective, advanced sports nutrition tool that is superior to traditional protein powders and other popular supplements in a number of ways. The formula is generally leaner, for one thing, and amino acids take effect much more quickly than whole proteins, largely because they require much less time for digestion. There are three branched-chain amino acids, each of which carries its own benefits:
- Leucine has the weight of significant scientific evidence behind it. Time and again, this essential amino acid has demonstrated an ability to increase muscle synthesis, thereby improving gains after each workout.
- Valine primarily serves in a support role, though it is no less important than the other two BCAAs. Valine can help to protect muscle tissue from damage, ensure a steady supply of glucose to the muscles, and even regulate the immune system.
- Isoleucine is the BCAA that most directly impacts endurance and recovery. It helps you stay energized during periods of strenuous activity and speeds up the body's efforts to repair tissues following exercise.
Though the effect of each individual amino acid is impressive enough, together they provide a wealth of health and fitness advantages that can take your routine to the next level. BCAAs have also been shown to help the body regulate blood sugar and limit soreness after a hard workout.
Amino Acid Supplements and Cutting Weight
The process of cutting weight can vary from person to person and sport to sport, though the general intention is more or less the same: to lose weight quickly. Unlike common long-term weight management plans, cutting weight requires a strict commitment to one or two very specific mechanisms of weight loss, typically either maintaining a calorie deficit or eliminating water weight -- sometimes both. If your plan is to cut weight over a period of a few weeks or months, you'll probably rely more on the former; for drastic weight loss over a period of 24 hours or so, cut water instead of calories.
One thing to note, however: the more severe the weight loss, the greater the risk to your health. Make sure you are properly informed about the consequences of your cut and have cleared any significant weight changes with your doctor before attempting drastic changes in weight.
If you're committed to your cut and want to protect muscle mass while reducing body fat and water weight, amino acid supplements are the ideal product for you. aminoVITAL® products add minimal calories to your diet -- only 10 in our amino acid pre-workout mix, though some products go as high as 75 -- so they won't hinder your attempts to cut calories. If you're avoiding liquids, our Action mix can be poured directly onto the tongue for fast-acting energy and BCAA supplementation without the need to down a bottle or water too.
When to Take BCAAs If You're Cutting
For those looking to cut weight, there isn't really a bad time to use BCAAs. Because amino acid supplements avoid the pitfalls of sugary beverages like protein shakes, they can be added to your diet before your weigh-in without sabotaging your efforts; their effectiveness and ease of use also makes them potent tools for increasing muscle mass and protecting muscle tissue as you cut weight in the weeks beforehand.
Products like our Rapid Recovery post-workout mix and Pro-E endurance mix can help you restore your body to peak condition immediately after your weigh-in, too, thanks to the unique combination of carbs, electrolytes, and amino acids they contain. Just add an aminoVITAL® mixture to what is probably a much-needed glass of water and replenish your body with key nutrients as you rehydrate.
Try a BCAA Supplement from aminoVITAL® When Cutting Weight
Cutting weight is never easy, regardless of how long you draw out the process. Finding ways to hit your goal weight while maximizing muscle mass can be complicated, given all the things you'll have to cut out of your diet. Luckily, amino acid supplements don't have to go. Because they're so lean, BCAA-based products from aminoVITAL® can help keep your muscles fueled without adding weight and derailing your plans. Learn more about all our products and how they can help you cut weight by visiting us online or calling (888) 264-6673 today.