What the hell are BCAAs?

So you’ve heard some chat around the gym about people supplementing with BCAAs; or maybe you’ve seen someone sipping from a shaker during their workout and wondered what is it? Chances are it’s BCAA’s – but what are they and how could they benefit you? 

BCAA stands for Branched Chain Amino Acids. These amino acids are leucine, isoleucine and valine. They make up 3 of the 21 amino acids our muscles need in order to repair and grow. These 21 amino acids are broken up into two groups ‘essential’ and ‘non essential’. Non essential amino acids can be made by our bodies; however essential amino acids need to be obtained by our diet - BCAA’s fall into this essential category.

What the hell are BCAAs | Size and Symmetry

But I already know that whey protein contains all the amino acids I need – why can I not just drink a protein shake? Well, the difference between BCAA’s and the other 19 amino acids is that they are utilised directly, rather than being processed in the liver first. This is what makes them beneficial directly before, during or after exercise when our muscles require immediate muscle nutrient support.

Over 30% of our muscles are made of these 3 important BCAA’s, and studies have shown that it’s these amino acids specifically that are hit hardest during exercise, due to them being broken down for energy. This process can lead to muscle catabolism (this is means muscle wastage – not a good thing!) if the amino acids are not replaced quickly. That’s where sipping on BCAA’s during your workout comes into play!
Why all the hype around Leucine?

What the hell are BCAAs? | Size and Symmetry

Now the most important of the 3 BCAA’s is leucine. Why? Because this amino acid alone is able to trigger protein synthesis (the muscle repair/building process) independently! For this reason our Smart BCAA’s has an ideal 2:1:1 leucine:isoleucine:valine ratio.

A pretty wondrous threesome, BCAAs have even been shown to preserve the energy we store in our muscles (glycogen), as well as having a positive effect on the messages our brain sends when our muscles feel fatigue. Thus we may even be able to enhance exercise endurance by taking BCAAs too!

After whey protein, we always recommend anyone taking part in physical activity that is looking to support, repair or grow new lean muscle should add BCAA’s to their supplement stack. At Size and Symmetry we have a range of BCAA products including BCAA8000 which is our delicious and best selling BCAA drink.