Not all of us have the time to research science and biology, some of us are simply not interested; but as a matter of fact, if you fit in to either of these categories your bodybuilding quest will be a lot better if you take a little time to read up on a few things.
That is what the basis of these articles is for, you may have heard people talking about BCAAs and how important they are as the building blocks of muscle composition. BUT do you know their full importance and how vital they are in bodybuilding?
What are BCAAs?
As much as bodybuilding is an individual sport, we all need support and all the help we can get from natural resources, nutrition and supplements.
BCAA stands for branched chain amino acids, they are responsible for 35 percent of muscle mass and are crucial for muscle cell growth. The main 3 are leucine, isoleucine and valine and there is 8 essential ones in total- which cannot be produced by the body, the rest are non-essential and can be produced in the body with correctly administered nutrition.
BCAAs are needed to build muscle mass, maintain your gains and repair lean muscle tissue. They are also part of the hormone and enzyme system, regulating many processes in the body, building DNA, RNA and transporting O2 through the body.
They can be found in foods but it is still worthwhile investing in a good BCAA supplement to guarantee you are getting exactly what your body needs to build and maintain your dream physique. With so much choice out there, I figured I would give you the low-down on which ones are the best value for money.
Which are the 5 Best BCAA Supplements for 2015
1. BCAA 4:1:1 from MyProtein
MyProtein have developed this beauty to support your quest for muscle, containing the 3 most essential BCAAs- leucine, isoleucine and valine in a 4:1:1 ratio. Remember that these vital aminos cannot be synthesised in your body naturally, so must be ingested through your diet and metabolised directly into your muscles.
IT comes in a powder form so it is absorbed faster and can be taken at any time of day, 5 gram servings up to 4 times a day are recommended and all you need to do is mix it with water. You can spruce things up a little too, if you want some flavour just add a scoop to fruit juice instead! The price of BCAA 4:1:1 makes it a bargain and it has a lot of good reviews from one of the UK’s most trusted brands.
All of these aspects make this product top of my list for good reasons.
2. AMINO X from BSN
From the former sponsor of 8 time Mr Olympia, Ronnie Coleman, comes this blend of effervescent BCAAs. They mix instantly when you add them to juice or water, so there is no mixing required. Each 10g serving is stimulant-free, also containing essential amino acids L-alanine, L-Citrulline and taurine.
For those of you who like flavoured supplements, you have the choice of 5 different flavours. Amino X is designed to be drank instantly, so there is no messing around with this product! They recommend you take it pre or post workout, but I honestly feel it is suitable to take at any time of day and have 2 servings maximum.
One downside is that one has to cycle Amino X 12 weeks on, 4 weeks off, which is rare to see with a BCAA supplement. It does however, act as a great source of energy and glycogen restoration. Kudos to BSN.
3. iBCAA from The Protein Works
Another great instantised BCAA formula is iBCAA, it has great reviews on their website and is building an ever-growing reputation in the supplement industry. It offers a balanced ratio of leucine, isoleucine and valine in a 2:1:1 formula with all-natural flavourings- green apple spike, orange burst, berry blitz, tropical punch or unflavoured.
iBCAA mixes very easily, meaning no lumps and none of the flavours are too sickly-sweet. (Usually a problem with many supplements) You can really take this whenever like most BCAAs.
One great bonus is you can get a free 250g tub of protein when you spend over £10 on your first order, every little helps and this means just one purchase is worth giving it a try.
NOTE- iBCAA is not suitable for vegetarians. By now though we all understand how important meat is for bodybuilders, so if you don’t eat meat it’s time to start!
4. Branched Chain Amino Acids from BulkPowders.co.uk
Bulk powders are difficult to forget due to their unbeatably low prices with 99% of their supplements on offer. This is matched with a points reward scheme that doesn’t take a lifetime to get something from, so they offer great incentive for repeat purchases.
Branched Chain Amino Acids from BulkPowders.co.uk comes in powder form and each serving size is 5g. One drawback is this unflavoured version has received bad feedback thus far regarding taste, but if you can get around that and you are on a budget, this could be the contender for you!
Start by ordering a small 20 serving pouch for less than 6 pounds before committing to a larger pouch, this way will save you money if you don’t like the product.
TIP- adding a simple sugar or fruit juice can liven this up and make it more pleasant on your palate.
5. BCAA 1000 by Optimum Nutrition
BCAA 1000 comes in capsule form for anybody who is not a fan of powders, which can be beneficial when you are travelling or in transit. At this point of the article, it is clear to you that BCAAs prevent breakdown of muscle tissue and speed up recovery.
BCAA 1000 has the standard yet effective formula of 2:1:1 and is recommended to be taken post workout or in the mornings by Optimum Nutrition.
I would also recommend taking these slower release capsules at night before bed to aid in optimal sleep recovery.
So how can I benefit from taking BCAAs?
BCAAs shuttle nitrogen into the muscles, improving protein synthesis and amino acids uptake. All of these processes are vital for muscle growth, basically BCAAs combine smaller amino acids to make up the entirety of muscle tissue cells. In this process, BCAAs increase the production of insulin in the pancreas, insulin regulates blood sugar levels and encourages the muscles to use this as a form of ‘muscle fuel’. The higher your insulin secretion, the higher your amino acid intake will be into your muscle cells.
After intense exercise sessions, you enter a highly catabolic state where glycogen stores are diminished, the liver then has to compensate by synthesizing glucose activated by L-alanine. This amino acid makes up 50% of protein released by muscles during exercise.
This release then triggers a response in the body, your brain halts protein synthesis when a release of BCAAs occurs. By restoring your body with branched chain amino acids during this time, you have the ability to halt this signal and make room for uninterrupted protein synthesis.
So if you are not taking BCAAs, it is about time you started!