Branched chain amino acids – BCAAs – are amino acids that our body is not able to synthesize, being the only route of supply, nutrition.
BCAAs are found mainly in foods of animal origin, such as beef, chicken or egg. BCAAs refer to three essential amino acids: Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. Leucine has been the most investigated amino acid due to its higher oxidation ratio and also to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.
The combination of these three amino acids accounts for almost a third of our muscle mass. During the practice of high intensity and long duration sports, where there may be a glucose deficit, they can serve as a source of energy.
Benefits of BCAAs
– Muscular hypertrophy
– Improvement of the anabolic hormonal profile (reduction of cortisol and increase of testosterone)
– Reduce muscle damage and increase the speed of muscle recovery
– Reduction of muscle catabolism
– Increased performance and reduced fatigue
– Improvement of mental capacity
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How to take BCAAs?
Unlike other supplements, such as Creatine and Beta-Alanine, there is no well-defined supplementation protocol for BCAAs.
In general, the recommendation is 5 to 15g / day (or 0.07-0.2g / kg body weight / day).
When to take BCAAs?
The ideal time to take BCAAs is in pre and post workout. In the pre-workout it will help you to conserve your muscle mass, especially if you practice very intense activities. In yhe post workout, there is a better absorption to start muscle protein synthesis. It will also help you in muscle recovery and reduction of muscle damage. You can also take them before bed to avoid possible catabolism that occurs at night.
By Joana Correia, Sports Nutritionist