BCAAs, or branched chain amino acids, are one of the most popular ways to supplement for strength, size, and weight loss.
If you walk into your local sports performance store, there will be many different BCAA supplements for various goals.
Whether you’re looking to put on strength, increase your endurance, recover from an injury, improve sleep, and many more – amino acids can help.
BCAAs are actually a metabolized protein.
This means that various amino acids can go to work for particular aspects of cell growth and regeneration (protein’s main job).
Although it’s exciting to learn that you can target different goals with specific amino acids, this may lead to confusion on how to best supplement with amino acids.
Let’s break down the best times and what amino acids you can take to strengthen a particular aspect of health.
BCAAs Before a Workout:
- The first and perhaps most popular way to supplement amino acids is prior to a workout.
- Many amino acids, including one called L-Isoleucine, can directly work as an energy creator.
- For this reason, drinking an amino acid shake that is rich in L-Isoleucine may help to provide you with more energy for a workout.
- Additionally, amino acid shakes that contain L-leucine may help to delay the onset of fatigue, helping you to feel like you have more energy simply because you’re not feeling fatigued as quickly.
BCAAs During a Workout:
- Many people drink their amino acid shakes during a workout in an effort to speed up the rate of muscle protein synthesis – the main mechanism for muscle recovery and growth.
- This can work, but most science shows that amino acids taken during a workout are not as effective as those taken after a workout – especially when they are combined with a carbohydrate and creatine drink.
- The main benefit from intra workout BCAAs is the addition of hydration that might not have been present before.
- Hands down, the best time to supplement with your amino acid shake is after a tough session of strength training.
- Amino acids like L-Leucine, L-Glutamine, and L-Valine are very effective in boosting strength and enabling for fast recovery.
BCAAs Before Bed:
- One of the most underrated times to supplement with an amino acid shake is prior to sleep.
- The rationale for doing this is to provide the body with a large source of digestible amino acids that can be metabolized during the night – it is during this time that testosterone is at its peak.
- Supplementing with nighttime amino acid shakes, especially those that contain L-Theanine, can actually help to stimulate better sleep and lighten your mood.
BCAAs In the Morning:
- Morning amino acid shakes can help to replenish blood amino acid levels when they would be at their lowest point.
- This will help athletes who are sore to decrease fatigue and recover faster, so you’re ready to faster between each successive workout!
The Do’s and Don’ts
- Amino acid and BCAA shakes are a very unique and specific way to target your performance in the gym and elsewhere.
- They can be used nearly anytime to improve your strength, size, recovery, and even assist in better sleep.
- BCAAs shouldn’t be used as a “crutch” – you still need to eat properly and assess how you are going to get the majority of your whole foods. BCAA supplements are a SUPPLEMENT to a good nutrition plan!
If you wish to include BCAA supplements in your diet, it’s important to use the correct ingredients and dosages at the opportune times.
Talk with your doctor, read the labels on the supplements, and follow instructions to stay safe and receive the best results.