Protein is important, yes. But what’s more important is the fact that protein is built out of amino acids, and many athletes tend to disregard this simple notion. In fact, bodybuilders use protein mostly for the benefits that amino acids provide.
Simply speaking, all of life is comprised of amino acids. When you eat foods that contain protein, what your body is basically doing is:
- Sorting the proteins out
- Breaking them down into individual amino acids
- Reordering the individual amino acids
- Turning the amino acids into whatever the body needs at the time
Sounds simple enough, right? Well it’s a little more complicated than that, but the point remains: amino acids are essential to improve your well-being and your overall health. Moreover, the three amino acids that athletes hold in high regard are:
This trifecta of amino acids is more popularly known as Branched-chain Amino Acids – or BCAAs for short. As suggested by their unique name, these compounds are shaped in a way which allows them to be useful more than other amino acids. But how do BCAAs differ from other amino acids and why are they so important in the first place?
The Benefits of Taking An Amino Acid Supplement
Amino Acid supplementation has multiple benefits for the user, some of which include:
A surgically precise dosage
While whey protein blends usually contain BCAAs, these products are also chock-full of other amino acids – which ‘dilute’ the formulation by a significant amount. As a matter of fact, whey protein blends also contain other ingredients that make BCAAs less potent as opposed to when BCAAs are included in the mix on their own.
Additionally, to get all the benefits that amino acids can offer, it’s best that you opt for a dedicated amino acid supplement by itself.
Promotes More Muscle Growth
One of the main reasons why both beginner and pro athletes reach for amino acid supplements – is because of their positive impact on muscle growth. As it turns out, Leucine is a very potent compound that aids in protein synthesis – especially true after a session of strenuous exercise. This translates to better muscle growth with Leucine supplementation, and faster recovery rates as well. Taking BCAAs in the right dosage, combined with a healthy lifestyle and proper diet, will provide you with everything that’ll you’ll need in order to become absolutely shredded.
When your body gets exposed to a high-quality amino acid supplement – it immediately changes the way of how it uses carbohydrates and fat. These two macronutrients are absolutely vital in the normal functioning of the individual sportsman. They serve as a source of ‘fuel’ your body needs in order to produce energy for everyday tasks, outdoor training, gym activities, and more.
Additionally, many athletes who take part in sports that require short bursts of energy, such as sprints or basketball, tend to experience glycogen depletion faster than idle users. This leads to a sharp and oftentimes unpredictable drop in performance that affects their final results.
A recent study, however, showed that BCAA supplementation can help with glycogen levels in more ways than one. This clinical trial put 7 volunteers through an intense training session that was designed to drive their glycogen levels to the ground. One group took BCAA supplements, while the other was subjected to a placebo pill. After the study ended, the group that took BCAAs saw a 17.2 percent improvement in their glycogen level stores relative to the placebo group.
Increased Fat Burn Potential
As we mentioned above, those athletes saw an improvement in glycogen storage capabilities. And how did BCAA supplementation helped them achieve that goal? By switching to the use of fat as fuel instead of carbs. In addition, users who are looking to shed any extra fat – or even athletes depending on a diet low in carbs – can reap the full benefits of including BCAAs in their diets.
As most of us are well aware, spending lots of time at the gym can leave you fatigued and drained. After this happens, you’re left with the possibility to either cut a large chunk of your training time, or put your workout to a prolonged hold. With BCAAs, this will become a thing of the past.
In fact, when you experience a sudden drop in BCAA levels – your body starts releasing a compound known as ‘tryptophan’ – a process that leads to all kinds of unpleasant effects. In addition, tryptophan gets converted to serotonin in the brain and causes feelings of fatigue, lethargy, and lack of focus. Supplementing with BCAAs puts an ends to this process before it even begins.
Protection of the Muscles
The simple truth says that exercise can put a significant toll on your muscles. This process is necessary for your body to be able to repair the muscle fibers and for you to come out stronger after each training session. Sometimes, however, things get out of control, and instead of carbs or fat – your body starts using the muscle tissue for its main source of energy. The group mostly affected here are endurance athletes and individuals who tend to train in a fasted state. BCAAs make sure that your muscle fibers stay up and running for as long as it takes – without suffering significant damage.
To recap: BCAAs protect your muscles, aid in muscle protein synthesis, and prevents fatigue – all leading to less downtime and more pumps! This is crucial, since the body mostly recovers while resting after a workout – which makes BCAAs that much more effective!
If that wasn’t enough, BCAAs also help in alleviating muscle soreness onset – especially true after a long and hard training session at the gym.
Branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplements Can Do No Wrong
Bottom line, the trifecta of amino acids, including Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine are major factors that contribute to better performance in sports and other physical activities. BCAAs supplementation ‘fuels’ both the physical and mental capabilities of an individual and leads to significant improvements among users of any kind – be it professional athletes, recreational daredevils, or even the guy who’s just getting the hang of it all.