Unlike other supplements, BCAA’s have been thoroughly researched and the studies show that BCAA supplements are indeed beneficial.
What are BCAA’s?
Let’s look at the basic science behind building muscle. Muscle mass is equal to the rate of protein synthesis minus the rate of protein breakdown. If both are equal – you don’t gain or lose. If you break down more than you synthesize you will lose so it’s in your best interest to increase the muscle synthesis and recovery as much as you can. Especially during dieting and cutting you are more likely to cause catabolism with the calorie deficit and reduce synthesis.
So whether bulking or cutting (but especially the latter), you need to make sure to do your best to minimize catabolism (muscle breakdown) and maximize synthesis (growth).
This is where BCAA’s or branched-chain amino acids come in. They stimulate protein synthesis, possibly even more efficiently than regular protein on its own. BCAA’s have high bioavailability, they encourage cellular repair and muscle synthesis.
On the other hand BCAA’s reduce the catabolic effects of training and dieting. As you can see it’s a win- win situation. You won’t lose and gain more muscle! Quite a good outcome, if you ask me.
Another benefit of BCAA’s is that they have the potential to increase workout performance.
During exercise, serotonin in the brain can increase the perception of fatigue and tiredness and cut your workout short. But BCAA supplementation reduces the amount of tryptophan and serotonin in the brain, and therefore reduces the amount of serotonin produced. This will ensure your workouts are more productive.
Does Brand Matter?
Firstly, some people say that whey will do you just as well. Is simply not true as BCAA supplements contain them in a free form easily absorbable and ready to hit your body straight away.
So what brands dominate the market when it comes to BCAA’s?
Rankings show that Optimum Nutrition and Muscle Pharm are popular in the community. Personally I have tried Mutant and found that it was rather effective in putting on muscle mass and reducing recovery time. It has a good ratio of BCAA’s (high dose of leucine) plus glutamine. Capsules are easy and portable, and powders are tasty. You may think taste is not important but if this is something you used every day – well it is quite important not to gag every time you take a sip.
Give it a try
Especially if you’re just getting into the world of supplements – invest in a good quality product such as Mutant and observe how it works. More expensive isn’t always better but it helps to do research first. If you love it – great, if not something else. And most of all remember – it’s the hard work, the diet and then the supplements.