BCAA Benefits: The Ultimate Guide to Amino Acid Supplements
Branched-chain amino acids are the building blocks of that can help our body in many ways.
You might be wondering:
What are the Benefits of Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) supplements?
During my research, I found a lot of websites making claims about branched chain amino acids benefits that were either far fetched or completely false.
I think most the marketing claims about amino acids are junk.
I started asking myself:
What are BCAAs good for?
Today, I would like to discuss the advantages of using branched chain amino acids to optimize a wrestler’s diet. This article does not constitute medical advice.
Why Use Amino Acids for Weight Loss?
Branched Chain Amino Acids can help wrestlers lose weight. Amino acids are not a magic supplement. You cannot eat whatever you want. BCAA’s are best used with a healthy wrestling diet.
A few years back, my son needed to lose about 20 pounds. As part of his weight loss plan for wrestling, his doctor suggested that he consume BCAA’s to help him burn fat and keep his muscle.
At that time, I didn’t know much about BCAA’s. I do believe they helped my son with his weight loss. I started doing some research and learned a lot about the subject.
There have been numerous studies about amino acids for weight loss over the last few years.
WebMd wrote an article about a recent study by how whey protein and amino acids may help people increase fat loss and reduce muscle loss. Great wrestlers maintain their performance by losing fat and keeping muscle as part of their training regimen.
This was a double-blind study. In the study, both groups had about the same percentage of weight loss. The subjects in the supplement group lost more body fat.
Everyone in the study had a 500 calorie reduced diet. The addition of amino acids led to better muscle synthesis and a greater loss of fat.
What does BCAA stand for?
I’m sure your wondering:
What does BCAA stand for?
BCAA stands for branched chain amino acids. BCAA’s are essential amino acids for our body. They are considered essential because we have to get them from our food intake. Our body does not produce them. There are three Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) that are considered essential.
What are the three branched chain amino acids?
There are three branched-chain amino acids. These are valine, leucine, and isoleucine. They are thought to be key building blocks for energy production and muscle repair.
There have been numerous studies that suggest that BCAA’s help stimulate your metabolism by promoting muscle growth and helping your body use your existing fat in your body as energy.
One of the ways that branched-chain amino acids help the metabolism is by regulating the sugar in your body, increasing the efficiency insulin, and providing energy to your muscles.
Huntington College of Health Sciences has written a great primer about amino acids.
In the article, they talk about how BCAA’s have the greatest metabolic potential for energy use in muscle. They also discuss how muscles use amino acids for weight loss and energy. The longer the workout, the more BCAA’s are used.
Prevent Muscle Breakdown
You can prevent muscle breakdown by taking BCAAs. As a wrestler, you have strenuous workouts every day.
If your body doesn’t have all of the amino acids it needs, your body will break down your muscle tissue for energy. This is the last thing a wrestler needs.
The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition did a study to examine the effects of BCAA supplementation on reducing exercise-induced muscle damage. The study used 12 professional football and rugby players that took BCAA’s for 12 days. The double-blind study concluded that BCAA’s administered before and after a workout reduces muscle damage, accelerates muscle recovery, and provided greater bioavailability to improve protein synthesis. The study did acknowledge the fact that there was not a significant control on what the athletes ate.The research paper is quite long, at 6,000-words.
The double-blind study concluded that BCAA’s administered before and after a workout reduces muscle damage, accelerates muscle recovery, and provided greater bioavailability to improve protein synthesis. The study did acknowledge the fact that there was not a significant control on what the athletes ate.The research paper is quite long, at 6,000-words.
I would think that quicker recovery and prevention of muscle breakdown would be key for most wrestlers. A typical wrestling practice is about 3 hours long. It’s safe to say that a wrestler would have significant muscle breakdown after practice. Most wrestlers want to lose body fat and keep(or gain) muscle mass.
After reading the study above, I learned that a college cannot supply athletes with amino acids. An athlete may take BCAA’s on their own, but cannot be supplied by the college. If you’re a college athlete, I would check with your coach before taking a particular BCAA supplement to make sure it doesn’t have banned substances. The NCAA published a fact sheet called understanding dietary supplements if you would like to learn more.
Burn Fat with Good Diet
One of the biggest advantages for branched chain amino acids is that it provides a big boost in the ability to burn fat as energy. This doesn’t mean that you can eat Mcdonalds every day and magically lose weight.
I’ve read several articles on the subject. I’m not an expert, but here is what I have been able to learn. In order to convert fat to energy, fat molecules need oxidation.
The articles state that BCAA’s help convert fat into triglycerides and improve thermogenesis. You can read the article in the additional resources for more information.
You get the biggest benefit from BCAA supplements when you combine them with a low-fat diet. In addition to good eating habits you should rigorously workout out on a daily basis.
Use BCAA’s Before, During and After Workouts
To maximize the benefit of branched chain amino acids, they should be taken thirty minutes before and after a workout.
When you eat natural food sources with BCAA’s the amino acids normally go to the liver before being used for energy or muscle repair. Taking BCAA supplements before a workout will deliver the amino acids as energy right to your muscles.
The benefits of taking BCAA’s after a workout is that it’s supposed to aid muscle recovery and muscle repair.
If you have a long workout(over 2 hours), it is suggested you take the BCAA’s half way through your workout. As always make sure you drink lots of water as part of a good weight loss plan.
Here is a list of resources that I came across while researching the subject of this article. I have listed them here for your benefit. Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Click here for more details.
Amino Acid Supplements – Here is a list of the highest rated BCAA supplements. I purchased the AminoHD1000 capsules for my son because the bottle is huge and has no additives or unnecessary ingredients.
Best Whey Proteins Powders – I’m a big fan of taking whey protein right after a workout. The protein is quickly absorbed by the body and is a terrific natural source of branched chain amino acids.
Foods High in BCAAs – You can get BCAA’s naturally from foods with protein. This article talks about some great food sources with branched chain amino acids.
Improve exercise performance and reduce muscle breakdown – Here is a good article by mensfitness.com that covers amino acids. One thing the article mentions is that you shouldn’t take BCAA supplements for than six months. They also advised that you stay well hydrated if you are on a high protein diet.
Branched-chain amino acid – Here is a page from Wikipedia. This page covers from scientific facts about BCAA’s. It also lists some other uses that do not involve taking amino acids for weight loss.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids: Metabolism, Physiological Function, and Application –
Whey Protein, Amino Acids May Boost Fat Loss – article that discusses a recent study about amino acids and weight loss. You can read about the study here.
Protein and Amino Acid Metabolism During and After Exercise – This a very detailed article about the effects of nutrition and amino acids in an athletes training regimen.
My son has used BCAA’s as part of an overall plan to lose weight for wrestling. He has had a lot of success using BCAA’s to lose weight.
I am not saying that BCAA’s are magic. In fact, I would recommend that you take BCAA supplements in moderation and as part of a nutrient dense diet with rigorous amounts of exercise. I would also follow the advice of mensfitness.com and only take supplements for no more than 6 months.
I hope you enjoyed the article about branched chain amino acids. Have you used BCAA supplements ? Do you have any feedback you would like to share?
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Is there an age restriction for BCAA supplementation?
Most of the supplement packaging states not recommended for 18 and under.
I’m not sure if there is an age restriction on BCAA supplements since your body also gets these from meats like beef, chicken, and fish. I would give supplements to a little kid, but my son was taking BCAA’s at 10 years old.