What is it?
BCAAs is the common name for branched-chain amino acids, the collective name for valine, leucine and isoleucine. In the fitness world, they are considered by many as the most important of all the known amino acids and the foundation of successful muscle building, since they prevent the breakdown of existing muscles and encourage further growth.
Why is it useful?
All three BCAAs help to boost the mass, strength and recovery time of muscles but ironically, they are drained by the very exercises we perform to build them up, meaning supplements are often taken to help top them up and facilitate gains.
Leucine in particular is often taken to be the most crucial, since it instigates muscle protein synthesis – the process by which depleted proteins are repaired – so that the desired growth is actually achievable. It also helps to maximise levels of insulin in our system, a natural hormone which helps the acids (alongside glucose) to reach and fuel our muscles.
Valine and isoleucine are not to be overlooked however, as collectively, all three BCAAs can be called upon as a direct source of fuel for muscles, providing the proteins needed to work them in the manner required to tone up.
How much should you take?
Our bodies don’t make them on their own and can’t store reserves of them in the same way they can fats and proteins. This means that if you want a regular boost of BCAAs, supplements will be your best source.
In lieu of their ability to actually feed muscles, BCAAs work best when incorporated into a regular routine, so that growth can be consistent and maintainable. To achieve this, the recommended dosage would be 5 grams first thing in the morning, a further 5 grams immediately prior to working out and a final 5 grams immediately after a workout has been completed.