What Is BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids)?
BCAAs or Branched Chain Amino Acids are the three amino acids Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. The thing that distinguishes these amino acids from the other 17 is that they are metabolised directly within the muscle, rather than in the stomach. These Branched Chain Amino Acids comprise around 1/3 of all muscle tissue within the body.Because they are used within the muscle they have very anabolic (muscle building) and anti-catabolic (stop muscles breaking down) properties. These properties make BCAAs a very important part of any serious training regime to stop muscle breakdown, especially weight training. BCAAs are also essential amino acids, which means your body cannot make them by itself. Natural sources of BCAAs include red meats and most dairy products - and of course whey protein is a great source of BCAAs - most reputable brands will have a BCAA profile on the side of the packet which will give you an indication as to how much of the contents are BCAAs.
What Does BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) Do?
BCAA supplementation is mainly used to protect muscles after intense workouts. They are also used to aid burns victims for the same reason as they are used by strength athletes. In practical terms any strength athlete (including martial artists) will generally take less time to recover from intense workouts when taking BCAAs than those not taking them.
BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) - Ingredients
By definition BCAAs only contain leucine, isoleucine and valine. Whilst the exact ratio of these amino acids may vary they should be roughly in the ratio 2:1:1 in favour of Leucine as studies have shown this to be the most important of the three.
BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) - Directions For Use
Most non-athletes can get sufficient BCAAs from diet alone. Anyone that is doing serious training should take around 5g before, during and after working out - although a lot of strength athletes take double this for maximum effect as BCAAs are side-effect free. A good combination of supplements is BCAAs with L-Glutamine for maximal anti-catabolic effects - to protect your hard earned muscle growth in other words.
BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) Side Effects
There are no side effects associated with BCAAs, and taking too much will not have any other harmful effects - indeed excess BCAAs are either converted into other amino acids or used for energy (or in extreme cases can be stored as fat, although this would not be an issue for anyone taking anywhere near a recommended dosage).