Have you heard of BCAAs and are wondering what BCAAs benefits are and if they are right for you? Whether you are new to working out or a veteran, adding BCAAs to your routine may be exactly what you need to preserve and build your lean muscle mass, especially if you workout in a fasted state like I do!
BCAAs are branched chain amino acids and consist of the amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The benefits of BCAAs are to help decrease muscle protein catabolism (muscle break down), so BCAAs may be a supplement you want to add if you are regularly weight training, especially if you tend to train in a fasted state.
Well many people have heard that muscles need protein to function and recover but don’t understand exactly what that means. Essentially, during exercise your muscles break down, and in order to repair themselves, they need amino acids. BCAAs benefits have been studied and are known to be the building blocks for protein synthesis in the body.
BCAAs are burned for energy during exercise, and are part of the way your body fuels during your workout. To help combat the loss of BCAAs and to ensure that your body has adequate BCAAs for synthesis protein (and other metabolic processes), consuming BCAAs before your workout is a good strategy.
BCAAs and Fasting
If you practice intermittent fasting, and you workout while fasting, you may want to consider using a BCAAs supplement before you workout, to help increase your bodies ability to repair muscles that are broken down during the workout. Having about 10 grams of BCAAs about 5-15 minutes before training will help reduce muscle break down and make sure you have enough protein in your system to help with recovery.
If you fasting, BCAAs will technically break your fast because they do spike your insulin levels. However, your insulin levels will quickly return back to their fasted state since you are ingesting mostly protein with BCAAs. The benefit you get from increasing your lean muscle (and increasing your metabolism) will outweigh the small increase in your insulin levels.
If you are not training in a fasted state, you may not need BCAAs before your workout, since BCAAs exist in many of the foods we eat. BCAAs are present in whey protein, animal protein (chicken, beef, turkey, etc), milk, and are added to many vegan protein powders (like my favorite protein, Vega Performance Protein). BCAAs benefits are great for muscle recovery so you can still have them before you workout if you choose to but are not necessary if you have had protein earlier in the day.
Not all BCAA supplements are created equally. If you get enough protein in your day, you likely don’t need a BCAA supplement. However, many women don’t eat enough protein, and because BCAAs are the building blocks to muscle synthesis, I think they are a great supplement to add when you are trying to increase your lean muscle mass and lose body fat. Just like any other supplement, I’m going to urge you to check the ingredients. Many brands on the market are full of sugar, artificial dyes and colors or sweetened with artificial sweeteners (many have all of these). I use MRM Watermelon and Island Fusion BCAAs and cut the sweetness with a squeeze of fresh lime (trust me you are going to want to add the squeeze of lime). I also have at least one serving of Vega Performance protein after my workouts each day.
Want more information about BCAAs benefits? Watch the video below.