Before workout? Between meals? During cardio? Here’s what you need to know about taking branched-chain amino acids to help you reach your fitness goals.
What Are Amino Acids And BCAAs?
Amino acids are components of proteins in the human body — and in the protein that we eat. There are 20 different amino acids, and 9 are considered “essential,” — which just means your body can’t make them, so they must be obtained through your diet and/or supplements.
Of those nine, three are branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs); leucine, isoleucine, and valine. “Branched” just refers to their chemical structure.
Don’t worry; you don’t need to memorize any of this. The big takeaway that these three essential BCAAs have been shown to turn on a process called “muscle protein synthesis” — which is how your body repairs and builds muscle tissue. For this reason, they’re popular among athletes — and pretty much everyone else looking to get leaner, more muscular, and recover from tough workouts.
When To Take BCAAs
Because BCAAs are very low-calorie–like almost zero–and don’t contain any stimulants, there’s really no wrong way to take them. However, if you are just a little strategic, they can be one more valuable tool to help you feel just a little better, especially when calories are low.
When Cutting Calories Or Fasting: If your calories are low, incorporate any type of fasting, or just enjoy doing your cardio on an empty stomach, drinking some before and/or during your workouts is a great way to keep your muscles fueled and lower the risk of your body using its own muscle tissue as fuel.
Take them alone, mix them with a pre-workout, or if you’re working out at night, you could even take them instead of a pre-workout.
Before a workout to combat muscle soreness: If you’re sitting around sore from yesterday’s workout, BCAAs probably aren’t going to do much. It’s important to take them before your workout for this benefit. But research has shown that taking a dose prior to lifting can decrease what is known as “delayed onset muscle soreness,” or that aching muscle pain that sometimes lingers for a day or two after lifting.
Between Meals: Taking BCAAs in between meals, or when you have to skip a meal, can act as a “bridge” between your higher-protein meals, keeping that muscle protein synthesis going even when you haven’t eaten in a few hours.
When Plain Water Isn’t Cutting It: If you find it difficult to hit your daily water intake goal, adding some BCAAs to your water jug is a great way to encourage you to drink up!
If You Have A Sweet Tooth: Because our BCAAS are so delicious, they are a great way to curb your occasional sweet tooth! And if BCAAS aren’t cutting it, you could try having some of our Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies! They taste like candy and can also help control occasional hunger cravings, give you quick “pick-me-up energy,” and provide digestion and metabolism support.
Need Additional Supplement, Diet, or Exercise Support?
If you are struggling to engineer your nutrition around your goals, that’s where our team of coaches and nutritionists from V Shred Custom Coaching can help.
Our coaches have made over 1 million meal plans so far, and help thousands of people every day to get fitter than ever and feel great doing it. You can get your custom meal plan here or email email@example.com, and we’ll set you up with the perfect coach for you.