So what are they?
Branched chain technically means that it is a carbon attached to two other carbons but we aren’t going to go into the organic chem cuz #letsbereal, no one cares.
There are three BCAA’s and they are leucine,valine, and isoleucine. These are also three of the nine essential amino acids which means that we do not make these on our own and they must be supplemented. BCAA’s were originally used in burn victims and have been studied in many other situations most frequently possibly in autism which I find very interesting. We will see how the studies pan out.
One recent study actually shows that there may be a causation of bodybuilders taking BCAA’s and infamous….ALS. WHATTTT? I actually just read this study upon making this blog so now I’m all scared. Haha! There is really no information out about this however just by the mechanism of action of hyper excitement of the cells which leads to cell death from increased calcium, it brings about some fear for sure.
Side Note: This is another reason that I don’t take supplements. There is literally zero long term safety data (that I know of) for these fat burners, diuretics, bcaa’s, pre workouts, etc. What if they all caused some crazy heart malformation that we didn’t know about? Okay, I’m being dramatic but REALLY!? If you can get success without them, then why take them is my reasoning?
Back to BCAA’s! They are most well known to help with muscle recovery. There is evidence that they can help with exercise induced muscle damage and also with muscle protein synthesis if taken before and after workouts. Muscle damage is what causes the delayed onset muscle soreness and if you were able to recover quicker from this then you may be able to workout harder, sooner and therefore build muscle more quickly. They also help with the production of cytokines which is a cell that is important in immune system regulation.
So, why would I be interested in taking them?
Some new and older studies have shown that BCAA’s can actually reduce cortisol levels in endurance training. We all are probably pretty familiar with cortisol but this is the stress hormone that is created during intensive exercise and most notably endurance training. In the literature, the doses of BCAA’s are far greater than anything that you are going to find on the shelves at your local GNC but I found a study that evaluated the use of these even at commercially available amounts, and the results are the same that it decreases the amount of cortisol.
Essentially, this can help you retain muscle while also doing endurance training. This is at least what I’m going to hope for.
If you are taking BCAA’s then look for a brand that has a higher amount. Cellucor actually has 10g total so that is a great brand and I’m actually planning on purchasing them with this groupon:
You. are. welcome! I’m not even affiliated with them and I never recommend supplements so today….is a big day! hahaha! There is also a picture above of what we have now (USP labs) and don’t you love that advertisement, 15g 50% more!!! These things crack me up! However, my husband does look for legit products and I believe this is one.
So when should you take them?
Ideally, to get the entire full benefit, you should take them before, during and after workout. However, I know the reality of this or at least for me. I’m all about being realistic and I can hardly remember to take Ibuprofen when I have a migrane much less remember BCAA’s every single workout. HA! So any of the above is what I would recommend and you are still going to get the benefits. I plan on taking them post workout but you could take them pre workout and be fine as well!
I hope this helps you make an education decision on whether you want to try them or not. Currently, my three teacup yorkies are playing and it’s darn near the cutest thing I’ve ever seen so I’m gonna go and enjoy that ;)
With love and supplementation,