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Mandy Mozzochi

Mandy Mozzochi

Mandy Mozzochi is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Women’s Fitness Specialist, and Fitness Nutrition Specialist.

Why BCAA’s Matter for Muscle Building and Recovery

BCAAs, you’ve probably heard the abbreviation before, but what does it mean and how can they benefit you. Most people aren’t really sure what they are and why they should be taken as part of their exercise routine. I am here to give you a little insight into the topic and as it relates to muscle recovery 

What are BCAA’s?

BCAA’s stands for branched-chain amino acids. “Branched-chain” refers to the chemical structure of these amino acids.  They include leucine, isoleucine, and valine which are essential in the body. (2.)

BCAAs are essential nutrients that the body obtains from proteins found in food. The most common foods are meat, dairy products, eggs,  and legumes. It is also easy to find a range of supplements that contain BCAAs or that are specifically designed to deliver BCAAs in a powder form. The keyword here is essential.

What are BCAAs used for?

BCAAs are widely used in the medical field as well as in the health and fitness world. 

  1. Health benefits for people with liver disease or elevated liver functions.
  2. BCAA’s can help prevent muscle wasting due to cancer, infections, or chronic illness. Muscle wasting can also happen from poor nutrition or malnutrition.
  3. They can help reduce exercise fatigue. This depends on many factors, such a nutrition, fitness level, duration of exercise, and intensity. 
  4. Increase muscle growth has been shown with use of BCAAs. Leucine activates a pathway in the body that stimulates muscle protein synthesis, which is the process of making muscle. (1.)
  5. They can reduce muscle soreness. When you exercise you create little micro-tears in your muscle which allows muscles to grow. However, they will not grow if they do not recover. Branched-chain amino acids have been shown to help improve muscle breakdown from exercise. 

Because branched-chain amino acids are used in the body to create protein synthesis you can see why they are popular amongst the fitness industry.

When you should add a BCAA supplement.

Because branched-chain amino acids can be found in foods if you are eating a high protein diet you don’t necessarily need to add a supplement. However, if you are working out for more than an hour daily and/or are eating a diet low in protein, supplementing with BCAAs can help your recovery by reducing soreness and assist in building lean muscle.

 As a trainer, I recommend to my clients to take BCAAs before and/or during a workout to help battle fatigue and reduce soreness later, post-workout. Also is you are doing fasting cardio or fasting workouts drinking BCAAs while you lift have been shown to help reduce muscle breakdown when training without fuel.  

Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5568273/

 

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-bcaa#:~:text=BCAAs%20have%20been%20shown%20to,length%20and%20severity%20of%20DOMS.&text=In%20one%20study%2C%20people%20who%20supplemented%20with%20BCAAs%20before%20a,the%20placebo%20group%20(%2014%20).

 

  1. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-bcaa#section1

 

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