BCAA’s are probably something you’ve come across in an advert for a protein powder or a recovery supplement, but it’s not immediately clear what BCAA stands for, what they are or why you should or shouldn’t be adding it into your diet.
Branched Chain Amino Acids, or BCAA’s, form the building blocks of protein. Certain proteins our bodies can make itself, the rest has to come from our diet. BCAA’s represent a third of these proteins which we have to get from an external source.
Of course BCAA’s can be found in our foods, and you can get these essential amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) from things like red meats, and milk. They’re also available in various quantities in different off-the-shelf supplements and shakes on the market, which is ideal when the right food groups might not be readily available.
How do you know how many BCAA’s your body needs to properly fuel itself, and what do they do?
Until you know how your body converts proteins and vitamins at a genetic level, you cannot really know what your body needs. The off the shelf nutrition or meal replacement brand you may be using could be falling well short of the amount of BCAA’s you need to properly function and perform in the gym.
What do BCAA’s do? Well there is a growing body of research that suggests they improve muscle synthesis, that is to say they boost muscle growth and there have also been studies that show that BCAA’s can reduce muscle soreness and fatigue after a workout - as a result you’ll be able to train harder and for longer.
That being the case, you can take your BCAA supplement or food(s) either before or after your workout, whatever is your preference.
In a nutshell, if you are trying to get stronger and bigger muscles, ensuring you get BCAA’s in your diet - whether from a supplement or a food source - is important. Once you’ve completed a DNA test, you’ll better understand exactly what your body needs, and can then fuel yourself correctly.