When it comes to supplements, protein and creatine seem to steal all of the limelight whilst smaller, lesser known supplements seem to be forgotten amongst the advertising and flashy packaging. One supplement which definitely shouldn’t escape your attention is Branch Chain Amino Acids – or BCAA’s as they’re more commonly referred to.
Generally, amino acids are responsible for regeneration and growth. They also produce additional effects on the digestive system. There are 20 amino acids in total and these consist of a combination of those which can and cannot be produced naturally by your body. Amino acids can also be considered the building blocks of protein, so provided your body receives a well balanced, high protein diet you should be able to satisfy these needs.
Amino acids can be further broken down into 2 types; essential and non essential. Essential amino acids are those which your body cannot produce and so must be present in your diet. Conversely, non essential amino acids are those which can be produced by your body.
For the purpose of this article non essential amino acids will not be considered. However, we will now move on to contemplate essential amino acids and BCAA’s. There are 8 essential amino acids in total and as mentioned above, these are not naturally produced by your body and so must be obtained from your diet. Leucine, isoleucine, histidine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, valine and threonine make up this list.
It is at this stage that we can consider BCAA’s. Of the 8 essential amino acids 3 of these are considered BCAA’s, those being; Leucine, isoleucine and valine. These three are of vital importance if you are looking to develop lean muscular mass. Previous research has identified that supplementing with BCAA’s was significantly linked with enhanced muscular hypertrophy, enhanced muscular recovery and decrements in post muscular soreness.
The importance of BCAA’s within your diet is crucial, especially if you regularly undertake physical activity such as weight lifting. BCAA’s can be obtained through a high sourced protein diet, however these demands increase dependant on factors such as type of activity undertaken and body mass, making these nutritional demands sometimes unattainable. Eating endless amounts of meat and other high protein sources day in day out is often both impractical and expensive. One common alternative is through supplementation.
BCAA’s can be found in abundance within whey protein powders. However, if you’re not keen on these, which many of you aren’t, due to the high levels of artificial flavorings and fillers, not to mention the additional carbohydrates associated with many brands, then you can purchase BCAA’s as an independent supplement.
This independent supplement alternative is also useful is you believe you’re close to achieving your dairy dietary requirements but just want to ensure that your body never goes without optimal levels of the 3 BCAA’s. Finally, if you believe your dietary needs require both whey protein powder and independent BCAA supplementation, then this is also a viable option, just ensure you follow the recommended daily allowances.
Regardless of whether or not you already supplement with whey protein powder, the addition of independent BCAA supplements could be just the thing missing from your range of daily supplements that takes you and your training to the next level.