When embarking on any kind of weight loss plan, there is a tendency to lose muscle mass along with the fat. If you’re looking to tone up and lose weight, or grow and keep lean muscle mass, you should know about branched amino acids. These are amazing macronutrients that can enable you to drop fat while at the same time keeping your muscles.
BCAAs are not only great tools for those looking to bulk up, but these branched amino acids also contribute key nutrients our bodies rely on to operate at its best. Nonetheless, it is true that modern products, with advanced absorption methods, have made these components key allies for anyone wanting to lose fat. Have we piqued your interest? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about branched amino acids.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our Selection: The Best BCAA Supplements
- 4 Buyer's Guide: Everything You Should Know About Branched Amino Acids
- 4.1 What are branched amino acids or BCAAs exactly?
- 4.2 Why are BCAAs useful to athletes?
- 4.3 Should I consume BCAAs if I am following a weight loss program?
- 4.4 What types of BCAAs are there and which one is the right one for me?
- 4.5 Who is likely to benefit from BCAAs supplementation?
- 4.6 What is the recommended dose of BCAAs?
- 5 Purchase Criteria
- 6 Summary
- Branched amino acids, also known as “essential amino acids” or “BCAAs,” are a superb allies to those wanting to lose weight while growing and keeping lean muscle mass.
- Essential amino acids are micronutrients our bodies are not able to produce on their own.
- Because our bodies can’t produce BCCAs it is super important to get these essential amino acids through our diet. People with low-protein or highly restrictive diets would benefit from BCAA supplementation.
Our Selection: The Best BCAA Supplements
You will quickly notice that in North America when it comes to choosing a BCAA supplement, there will be no shortage of options. There are dozens of brands, blends, and formats available. To help you understand what to look for, in this section, we present you with the 5 best BCAA products currently available.
Buyer's Guide: Everything You Should Know About Branched Amino Acids
In order to choose the right BCAA supplement for your needs, it is important to know exactly what those needs are. To help you understand your needs better, in this section we cover the most relevant information concerning BCAAs and answer the most frequently asked questions consumers have before choosing a product.
What are branched amino acids or BCAAs exactly?
Fat loss or gaining muscle is achieved through the oxidation of these essential amino acids. To optimise the oxidising effect, combining their intake with working out is recommended. After all, it is a well-known fact that the oxidation of BCAAs is boosted with physical exercise and energy expenditure.
The essential amino acids are:
Why are BCAAs useful to athletes?
- Increase muscle endurance
- Support the tension of our moculature
- Supply energy to our muscles
- Favor protein synthesis
- Increase strength
- Favour weight and fat loss
Because BCAAs are metabolised in the muscles and not in our liver, our muscles are allowed to work in optimal conditions.
During the oxidation process, chemical glutamine is created. The presence of glutamine is a key component to prevent muscle tissue from being worn down and lost.
Should I consume BCAAs if I am following a weight loss program?
Weight management plans can have negative impacts on our muscles. This is because when our body enters a caloric deficit, it begins to eat up muscle mass to obtain caloric energy. More along these lines, BCAAs are also beneficial to athletes who practice intense cardiovascular exercises.
What types of BCAAs are there and which one is the right one for me?
There are two types of branched amino acids available in the United States market:
- BCAAs in powder form.
- BCAAs tablets.
In the following table, we present you the different types of BCAAs, as well as their main
|Criterion||BCAAs tablets||BCAAs in powder|
|Dosage||3 tablets before or after training (varies by brand).||5g mixed with water or juice before or after training (varies by brand).|
|Digestion||Slower absorption||Excellent absorption|
|Method of ingestion||May be difficult to swallow.||Soluble and easy to mix.|
|Price||Price varies by formula.||Price varies by formula (freeze-dried format is highly priced).|
|Purity||May contain caffeine.||Often contain artificial flavours.|
As far as their nutritional values go, there are no noteworthy discrepancies between the two types of presentations.
Who is likely to benefit from BCAAs supplementation?
- Those who want to increase muscle fiber
- Bodybuilders during competition
- Those who want to lose weight
- Athletes under an intense physical training regime
BCCAs also help reduce some of the normal aches and pains that occur after intense physical training, making for a faster and easier recovery.
What is the recommended dose of BCAAs?
|Time of intake||Effect|
|Before training||More intense training.|
|After training||Aids muscle regeneration.|
|During the day||Reduces hunger and helps muscle growth.|
|Upon awakening (fasting)||Stops muscle breakdown that occurs during sleeping hours.|
The standard dose, as mentioned above, is usually 5 to 10 grams. This will of course depend on your weight and particular needs.
Is it dangerous to exceed the recommended dose of branched amino acids?
Since a high concentration of amino acids can be toxic to our organisms, excess BCAAs are usually eliminated and excreted immediately. All human cells have a specialised system of enzymes that are responsible for breaking down these amino acids. For these reasons overdosing on BCAAs is not very common, however, it can happen in some cases.
It is important to note that when the body experiences an overdose, eliminating excess toxins becomes a priority. This takes energy away from other vital processes and could cause serious damage. Make sure not to surpass the recommended daily dosage. If you experience any problems, make sure to consult your doctor.
Like with any supplement you’ll ingest, it is important to make sure you get a quality product that will provide all the effects you’re looking for. To help you find the best product, we want to give you one last set of criteria to consider before you make your final purchase:
Most BCCAs supplements that come in the form of powder will have some sort of fruity or citric taste. Depending on your taste, these supplements will have a pleasant taste or not. If you’re sensitive to artificial flavours, opt for tablets, these don’t usually have any flavour since you take them in one gulp.
Choosing top-quality ingredients is the most important aspect to consider when shopping for products you will consume -- We can’t stress this enough. Beyond the quality of the product, it is always preferable if the supplement contains other beneficial active ingredients that will support its function. You will get more from supplements that also contain vitamins or caffeine.
For instance, vitamins B12 and B6 will improve the body's absorption of BCAAs. Finally, you should also consider the percentages of the amino acids present in the formula you choose. The amount of leucine, for example, should be the highest, as this is the one responsible for protein synthesis, and what enables you to maintain muscle mass.
- Studies show that the perfect concentration of amino acids is:
2:1:1: 2 parts leucine, 1 part isoleucine and 1 part valine.
If you know you duffer from allergies, the list of ingredients will be your most trusted ally.
Nonetheless, everyone can benefit from knowing the sugar content of the product they chose, or that it does not contain any artificial additives.
Furthermore, you should also pay close attention to the label if you need a product that is:
Overall, supplements that are vegan and fructose-free are ok for people who suffer from allergies. Nonetheless, vegans should be careful when taking pressed supplements, since they are often coated in gelatin. If you are vegan, keep an eye out for tablets coated in cellulose.
Country of Origin
It can be generalised that the quality of a product is often closely related to its country of origin. Developed countries often have strict standards and regulations that ensure companies produce high-quality products with good ingredients.
Most of the time, supplements made in the European Union adhere to rigorous health and safety standards. Unfortunately, most products made in the United States lack strict quality control, which is reflected in the ingredients used.
By now you should understand why BCAAs are such great allies to those looking to build muscle and lose fat. Because the body is unable to produce these amino acids on its own, a proper diet and/or supplementation is very important.
Moreover, BCAAs actually offer endless benefits to many different processes in our organisms. The nutritional contribution of these amino acids, along with a balanced diet and physical activity is the perfect combination for athletes and those looking to burn more fat or increase muscle.
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(Source of featured image: Bulygin: 98113623/123rf.com)