What is BCAA, and why is it so popular with athletes?
When looking for supplements and nutrients for athletes, you can often come across a wide selection of preparations, which bewilders and causes confusion. How do you find a supplement which perfectly meets your specific needs, is safe to use, and has the desired effects?
Stocked in the plethora of shops selling supplements there are a number of categories formulated for achieving specific results. For some of these it is obligatory to mark with the mysterious abbreviation BCAA.
What do these enigmatic initials mean, and why do sportspersons opt for supplementation with these preparations?
BCAA branched-chain amino acids and their beneficial effect on the human body
These supplements are denoted by the abbreviation BCAA because they contain branched-chain amino acids, which have specific properties. First of all, they have an additional, lateral, chain, which creates the uniqueness of this type of particle. Due to their exogenous nature, they are not produced in the human body, and must therefore be supplied in the form of balanced foods or supplements. Branched-chain amino acids contain L-leucine, L-valine and L-isoleucine; these should be included in the composition of supplemental preparations, which are designed to work effectively in the human body.
People who work out actively, and whose exercises are intensive and stressful for the body, often seek out preparations from this group. It turns out that a sufficient supply of BCAA has an influence on:
- the reduction of workout fatigue – if you want to increase the intensiveness of your workouts, to provide yourself with enough energy during your workout, and to achieve maximum performance, then branched-chain amino acids will be the perfect choice
- the elimination of fatty tissue exercises at the gym are often associated with the weight-loss process; BCAA will help you lose weight effectively
- muscle-mass building – thanks to branched-chain amino acids, muscle mass will become more effective and beneficial, and the visual results will be accompanied by a real increase in muscle strength
- protection against muscle catabolism – the breakdown of laboriously built muscle tissue is not a happy prospect; however it can be prevented by taking BCAA supplements, which provide the body with the building materials for muscles.
How do you choose BCAA supplements to ensure safe and effective supplementation?
First, when buying supplements for athletes, it is worth going to trusted shops where only products of verified composition and origin are available. BCAA supplements should contain three amino acids from the group of branched-chain particles, i.e. leucine, valine and isoleucine, in optimised proportions. It turns out that the ratio of individual amino acids is important for the effects of the supplements on the body. One might rightly assume that leucine is the most important in the discussed group, as it initiates the synthesis of muscle proteins. Therefore, the proportion of branched-chain amino acids contained in the supplement should be the highest for leucine. However, this does not mean that the other two compounds are irrelevant. Both isoleucine and valine are essential for the proper muscle-building process. Isoleucine is one of the fundamental components in human muscle proteins, and it also participates in the energy processes taking place in the body. In turn, valine stimulates protein synthesis, and is responsible for the balance of, and metabolic changes in, nitrogen.
It is therefore worthwhile verifying the presence of these compounds in the composition of the supplement when choosing one containing branched-chain amino acids.
Today we can find supplements which, as well as BCAA’s, contain various types of complementary substances, such as vitamins, nutrients, minerals, and flavouring additives, which improve the taste of a given preparation.
BCAA supplements come in powder form for preparing a drinking solution, and also as capsules or tablets, so you can choose the form of supplementation most convenient for you.
Is the use of BCAA preparations safe?
It is worth noting that before being marketed, each supplement is subjected to restrictive controls and multifaceted verification, which relate to its composition, the potential effects on the body, and safety. Therefore, you can be sure that the available supplements for athletes are safe preparations, and accompanied by detailed instructions for use. It should be remembered that all kinds of supplements, including BCAA’s are only an addition to the daily diet, which especially in the case of physically active people should be wholesome and balanced.
The correct dosage of supplements, the supplementation of the diet with properly composed meals, and regular workouts, can make the achieved results stunning a muscular silhouette, real strength, increased efficiency of exercise, and physical endurance – all elements which contribute to the fulfilment of every athlete.