There are so many supplements on the market today that it can make your head spin. Anymore it’s confusing about exactly what you should be using. To make matters worse, there are so many people saying so many different things that it can be overwhelming. In the end, BCAAs are just another supplement added to the massive list. However, BCAA supplements are ones that tend to get a lot of hype, but is there merit to the hype? Yes, I believe there is. I’m going to break down why I feel BCAAs are an absolute must to add to your supplement arsenal.
My BCAA Experiment
I’ll get into the scientific evidence backing BCAAs in a bit, but first I want to cover my personal experience with BCAAs. I tend to go through different phases of personal fitness. Sometimes I want to gain mass, others I just want to lean out and stay shredded. In order for me to lean out, though, I have to add in quite a bit of high intensity interval training (cardio). When that happens, I will do around 2 resistance workouts and 5 cardio trainings per week. Before ever using BCAAs I would lose a significant amount of strength by doing a lot of high intensity cardio training. For example, I might go from doing sets of 10 of 100 pound dumbbells for bench press down to only being able to do the same amount of reps with just 70s. This would happen almost every single time over the course of a few months. I do have to note, though, that when I am trying to lean out I do fasted workouts, meaning I haven’t eaten anything for hours beforehand. Normally I get up in the morning and work out before eating. When your insulin levels are low, fat loss is accelerated. The only issue with that is that the body tends to use muscle (in addition to body fat) for energy when in a fasted state. This is why I lost so much strength over the course of just a few months. After a ton of research I decided to add in branched chained amino acids during my workouts. Keep in mind that the only thing I changed was the use of BCAAs. My nutrition plan was the same as it was before. After adding in BCAAs and doing another cycle of gaining mass and leaning out, I noticed almost no decrease in strength, even with adding in all the high intensity training and doing the fasted workouts. That is a true testament to BCAAs in itself.
How do BCAAs work and what do they do?
There are basically three main amino acids: Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. All 3 of them play a role, but in a nutshell they help promote protein synthesis and increase glucose intake in the muscles. When used as a supplement during workouts, they help prevent the breakdown of muscle (to use for energy), reduce fatigue, and kick-start the muscle repair process. What was happening before I started using BCAAs was that my body was drawing from muscle for fuel because of doing the fasted workouts. Once I started using them, muscle breakdown was halted and my body was drawing energy solely from my body fat. I noticed that I maintained strength and experienced a quicker fat loss than I have before.
What BCAAs do I use?
If you follow me, you know how much I hate the majority of supplements because of all the artificial flavors and dyes added. Most companies do the same with BCAAs. I’m the type of guy that will use a supplement even if it tastes like shit if I know it’s good quality. I don’t use supplements for the taste. If you do, maybe you should start thinking about why you use supplements in the first place. But the brand of BCAAs that I’ve been using for quite some time is Scivation Xtend Raw. The flavored versions of Xtend have all those dyes and chemicals I was talking about, but the Raw version does not. But it tastes like crap.
How much do you take and when do you take it?
I put one scoop (12.2 g) into my shaker cup of water, shake it, and sip on it all throughout my workout.
So should you use BCAAs? I think so. All I know is that they have made a big difference in my workouts, muscle loss prevention, and fat loss. Questions? Don’t hesitate to message me on my Facebook page. If you want to try out the brand I use, here is the direct link to it on Amazon. SCIVATION XTEND RAW BCAA