If you want to hang on to as much muscle mass as possible when you’re training hard, doing cardio, and cutting away at body fat, BCAA’s are your best friend. BCAA’s – branched chain amino acids – are considered to be the most important essential amino acids for building and retaining that precious muscle tissue.
But did you know that you can make your humble BCAA’s work even harder for you?
Let’s revisit the basics of BCAA, then look at how you can maximise how you use them.
BCAA tablets, capsules, powder or drinks are a combination of the amino acids leucine, iso-leucine, and valine. All amino acids are important for building lean tissue, but some are more important than others. And the three BCAA’s are “essential” (your body can’t make them by itself, so you need to get them from food or supplements). The right amount of leucine, iso-leucine, and valine can help stimulate protein synthesis – basically giving your body a huge helping hand in the epic task of building new muscle tissue and hanging on to what you’ve already got.
BCAA’s are especially helpful when you’re on a fat-loss diet, cutting for a competition, or training extra hard.
Most people choose to take BCAA tablets or capsules, or sip on a BCAA drink before and during training or throughout the day. By taking your BCAA’s between meals, or when your body is working hard, you help guarantee optimal intake of these important amino acids. It’s a great way to do things… but could there be a better approach?
We’ve identified three advanced approaches to taking your BCAA’s. If you want to get even more out of your must-have muscle supplements, give them a go.
In The Morning
BCAA + Creatine
Combine your morning dose of BCAA with your daily dose of creatine (or half of it, if you like to split your creatine intake throughout the day). This is a great approach to support muscle growth and maintenance.
Ideal for: morning gym sessions, especially if you’re currently in a calorie deficit.
BCAA + Beta Alanine
This combination would be great as part of your pre-workout ritual. Beta alanine is another naturally occurring amino acid, and it’s linked to levels of carnosine in muscle tissue. Add a serving of beta alanine (3-6g) to your pre-workout alongside BCAA’s. The combination will help protect muscle tissue during a tough workout, and could help minimise fatigue during training, too.
During Training Or Cardio
BCAA + Electrolytes
This is a great combination for your intra workout drink. Adding electrolytes to your regular BCAA drink will help keep you hydrated and topped up with important minerals and salts, as well as helping to maintain muscle. We’ve done the work for you with ENDURE™, our popular intra workout drink which has BCAA’s in a 4:1:1 ratio, plus PeptoPro®, Vitargo® and a unique electrolyte blend. But if you’ve already got a BCAA drink that you love, just add a serving of electrolyte powder, electrolyte tablets or our Complete Hydration drink. Perfect for hard workouts as the weather hots up, or for those cardio sessions!
How do you make the most of your BCAA’s?
About the Author:
Nicola Joyce has been writing for (and about) sport, fitness, nutrition and healthy living since 2004. She’s also a keen sportswoman: her background is in endurance sport but she now competes as a natural bodybuilder, most recently winning a world title with the INBF. When she’s not writing content, she can be found blogging. Follow her here www.nicolajoyce.co.uk and on Facebook & Twitter (@thefitwriter) too.