BCAA's are essential for you as they prevent muscle wasting and give you energy while you are cutting down; this helps to keep your muscle tone so that all your hard work isn’t lost! If you are trying to lose fat while preserving lean muscle mass, or training with performance and competition-focused goals in mind, you should definitely consider adding BCAA's to your supplement regimen to help you recover from your high volume of training. BCAA's, or branched-chain amino acids are the building blocks of muscle protein; these are Valine, Leucine and Iso-Leucine. These three amino acids are part of the essential amino acids, meaning your body can’t produce them so you need to get them through your diet. Why are these three so important? BCAA's make up approximately 1/3 of your muscle protein! This makes supplementation absolutely essential if you are trying to increase muscle tone, improve your performance, or trying to cut body fat.
1. BCAA's preserve muscle glycogen stores. your muscles are loaded with glycogen which is another name for stored carbohydrate. Each muscle has its’ own stores and those stores are local i.e. the glycogen in your legs is for your leg muscles.
2. Once your glycogen stores are depleted. your body turns to your muscles to make extra fuel, bringing your workout to a halt. However, because BCAA's can be metabolized and used by your muscles for energy, glycogen stores will be preserved which, in turn, prevents muscle break down.
3. BCAA's help prevent unwanted muscle breakdown – exercise is catabolic which means it breaks your muscles down. Consuming BCAA's before, during, and after exercise can help prevent muscle breakdown which in turn will preserve your metabolic rate.
4. BCAA's are a calorie-free way to recover after exercise – if you eat properly after a workout, any damage to your muscles will be repaired so they become stronger. BUT if you are dieting for fat loss, you can’t eat as much which actually undermines your recovery. BCAA's, despite being virtually calorie-free, play an important role in lean muscle growth and repair and can be used in place of protein to help kick start recovery.
5. BCAA's help fire up fat loss – BCAA's increase fat burning! They increase glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity and, by boosting workout performance and preserving muscle mass, allow you to burn more calories during workouts. Also, a serving of whey protein powder contains 120 calories while a serving of BCAA's contains 10 calories or less so using BCAA's in place of at least some of your protein can save you a lot of calories.
6. Reduced muscle soreness - when taken during or after your workout, BCAA's help to reduce muscle soreness from training. How does this help with fat loss? Well, after a big workout, you don’t wake up feeling so sore that you can’t move - this means you can train again, and keep your eyes on the prize instead of having to take 2-3 days off. Improved consistency means improved results.