What Are BCAAs? Do you need them?

What the heck are BCAAs?

We get asked this question often, and more importantly, when we don’t get asked, we know a lot more people are wondering about this supplement that we provide for our clients inside our Recover Store. 

BCAA stands for Branched Chain Amino Acids.

Amino Acids are a chemical inside the body that helps to build the structure of muscle tissue. The body has 20 different Amino Acids and 9 of those 20 are considered “Essential” and the body can not make them for itself. They need to be ingested via food or supplementation.

Of those 9, 3 are called “Branched-Chain” which refers to the chemical structure of those Amino Acids which have branches. These Branched-Chain amino acids are found in high protein foods like Eggs, beef, chicken and dairy products.

A lot of the BCAA Supplements that you find, and especially the ones sold at our supplement store in West Chester, PA, have both BCAA as well as the rest of the Essential Amino Acids. So you are getting a supplement full of everything that your body can’t produce on its own. 

What are the benefits of BCAA+EAA in your diet?

1. Increased Muscle Growth

Studies show that drinking a BCAA+EAA Supplement after a hard workout had a 22% increase in muscle protein synthesis (the process that builds muscle in the body) compared to a placebo drink.

That’s a huge difference! 

2. Decreased Muscle Soreness

If you’ve had a great workout at Gage Strength Training, you’ve probably felt what experts call DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) which kicks in the day after – or sometimes 2 days after- a great workout.

Making sure your diet is rich in BCAA+EAAs has been shown to decrease soreness after strength training workouts!

If you want to avoid being too sore after a workout, and hit it hard the next day in the gym, you want to make sure you’re getting those 9 amino acids! 

3. When Dieting, It Prevents Muscle Wasting!

If you’re on a weight loss plan, chances are that you are following a low calorie diet.

What happens when you’re on a low calorie diet is that your body may not have enough nutrients, calories and Amino Acids from whole foods to keep muscles functioning at their best. Your body is constantly looking for sources of fuel inside of itself, and when you don’t have enough nutrition coming in, it will start to break down muscle tissue.

This is called Muscle Wasting, and is very common while following a weightloss plan if you aren’t careful. 

By getting enough protein-rich foods containing BCAA and EAA, you’re making sure that you are maintaining muscle while losing weight. (This leads to that rock-solid, toned body most people are looking for). 

Do you need a BCAA Supplement? 

The short answer for the general population is no.

Like I mentioned in this post, Branched Chain and Essential Amino Acids are found in protein-rich foods, so if you are getting enough protein in your regular diet on a regular basis, you probably don’t need an Amino Acids supplement.

But, just like taking a multivitamin everyday, it can be helpful to provide yourself a little Nutritional Insurance by taking these low-calorie supplements to give your body all the Amino Acids it needs to help you lose weight faster, build muscle and decrease soreness.

When it comes to supplementing with Amino Acids, you should ask yourself this:

  • Would I benefit from being less sore from the gym (and being able to workout even harder every day because of it?)
  • Do I hit my daily protein goal from whole foods and protein shakes every day? (Typically about 1g per lb of Lean Body Mass)
  • Do I get tired in my workouts sooner than I’d like to? (BCAAs can help boost your energy during training) 

If you answered YES to any or all of these questions, you should consider investing in a BCAA/EAA Supplement like “The Grind” from Axe and Sledge inside our Recover Supplement Store!

PS. A lot of our athlete parents ask if taking a BCAA supplement is safe/necessary for their kids.

^^Here’s a WebMD Article about the usage and risks of BCAA^^

BCAA/EAA Supplements are 100% safe for young athletes, and if your kids are picky eaters and aren’t getting enough lean sources of protein in their diet, they can really benefit from this supplement!