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BCAAs supplements can benefit those engaging in serious exercise. In this article we look at cases where a BCAA supplement can help and also when it doesn’t.  

BCAA Basics

BCAAs stand for “Branched Chain Amino Acids”. BCAAs comprise 3 essential amino acids, namely Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. The BCAAs are called essential amino acids because they need to be obtained from the diet as the body cannot produce them.

BCAAs are found in foods containing protein as well as protein supplements like dairy, egg and plant-derived proteins.

BCAAs can also be obtained in the form of supplements. In the latter form, they are found in the free form rather than as part of proteins.  This means that they are readily available because the body doesn’t need to digest protein first to release the amino acids. 

BCAA supplements aren’t necessary for most people

Supplemental BCAAs are not necessary for most people if their protein intake is adequate. It is not because we sell BCAAs that we need to tell you must supplement or drink them all day even if you don’t need them.

ViGO isn’t into this kind of business.

However, those engaging in regular exercise training and sports can benefit from taking a BCAA supplement under specific circumstances, which we will cover below.

BCAAs FOR BODYBUILDERS AND PHYSIQUE ATHLETES

Mechanisms of action:

BCAAs work in many ways, some of the most important ones being listed below.

We are going to recommend some ways to take them. Of course, if you are working with a diet coach who knows his stuff and has done your diet plan it will be best to go by his intake recommendations, should you need to supplement.

We don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. 

Mechanism A: Muscle protein synthesis

BCAAs, via Leucine, stimulate the manufacture of muscle proteins. This help with muscle growth.

Suggested Protocol: take a serving BCAA in between main meals to keep muscle-building elevated.

Mechanism B: Energy supply

BCAAs is used a a source of energy. This can help to preserve muscle mass during calorie-restricted diets for fat loss and also during training of long duration. 

Suggested Protocols:

  • Take a serving BCAA before fasted training.
  • During long-duration training add a serving of BCAAs to water or preferably with a souce of carbs like ViGO Elements PureCarbs.
  • If you use a preworkout energy product, BCAAs can be added to the drink especially if too long a time has elapsed between your last meal and training (say a 2pm meal and a 5:30pm training session). 
  • Especially with smaller meals while dieting, take a serving to ensure adequate Leucine intake (to stimulate muscle protein synthesis) and glucose uptake into muscle (Isoleucine help with this).

Mechanism C: Fighting mental fatigue during training.

BCAAs fight neural fatigue by blocking the increase of serotonin during exercise. Serotonin makes you feel tired.  

Suggested Protocol: take a serving BCAA before or during training of long duration. For such workouts it is a good idea to include a form of carbohydrates during workouts, along with your BCAAs. 

BCAAs FOR ENDURANCE ATHLETES

BCAAs can benefit endurance exercise like cycling, crossfit, running and team sports. Here the muscle-protective and anti-fatigue effects of BCAAs are important. 

Suggested Protocol: take a serving BCAA during training of long duration (more than 1 hour) along with a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink like ViGO SportLine Ultra. If you are adding BCAA to an already flavoured and sweetened drink we recommend using our ViGO Elements BCAA which is unsweetened/ unflavoured.

BCAAs FOR RECOVERY?

BCAA supplements are not advisable for post-exercise recovery. Many recovery supplements are based on BCAAs nowadays. Furthermore, many BCAA supplement list “muscle recovery” as one of the functions of BCAAs.

That’s not good science. 

For recovery we advise taking a complete protein like ViGO Protein or REGO Recovery Protein.  This is because they are based on complete proteins. The latter supply all essential and non-essential amino acids for the process of muscle recovery, as opposed to only 3 in the case of BCAAs. 

The 3 BCAAs are helpful in other situations, as explained above. 

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Please feel free to drop us a line at info@vigolife.co.za for any advice, question or if you want to make some money selling ViGO!

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