One of the biggest challenges in fitness training is that it requires you to constantly push your body’s limits and gather the strength to do more and better each time. Some might say that increasing endurance and stamina are purely a matter of motivation and you can do everything if you set your mind to it; this is true, but only to a certain extent. While motivation plays a huge part in the process, so do supplements. There are many types of healthy supplements available on the market, but, in the past years, one has stood out thanks to its popularity among athletes and the many scientific studies backing its benefits: BCAA supplements. Here are just a few reasons why branched-chain amino acids are a good ally on your fitness journey. But first…

What are BCAAs?

Branched-chain amino acids represent 35% of all essential amino acids found in muscle proteins and come in three types: leucine, isoleucine and valine. When you engage in intense physical activity, the body breaks down these amino acids through oxidation, to produce energy. The problem appears when your break down tissue faster than you can build new one. Your body becomes catabolic, meaning that it’s no longer able to get rid of damaged muscle cells and, consequently, grow muscle. It’s a situation that most athletes try to avoid, especially because BCAAs are essential amino acids, so your body gets them from your diet. When you work out, it is advisable to take supplements that encourage protein synthesis and muscle growth.

Benefits of Branched-chain amino acids

Over the years, a number of scientific research papers have established that BCAAs help athletes in a number of ways:

  • BCAAs help you recover

Because athletes have complex and intense fitness routines, they need a supplement to help them recover as quickly as possible. An article published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, in 2017 showed that a 2:1:1 ratio of BCAAs reduced muscle soreness and muscle damage among athletes.

  • BCAAs reduce fatigue after a workout

An interesting study described in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that untrained fitness enthusiasts who took BCAA supplements achieved better results in cycling workouts compared to when they took a placebo or sports drink. So, you can buy BCAA supplements even if you are not an athlete, to reduce fatigue.

  • BCAAs stimulate muscle growth

Last, but definitely not least, BCAA supplementation is known to promote protein synthesis and therefore muscle growth. This benefit of branched-chain amino acids has already been discussed in numerous sports medicine journals and it is a fact that you definitely must keep in mind if you are looking for a quality supplement.

If you decide to buy BCAA supplements, you should know that you can find them in both pill and powder form, flavored and unflavored. Ideally, they should be taken during or after your workout, unless you are fasting, in which case you should also take small dose before the workout. For custom advice on frequency and dosages, talk to your personal trainer or nutritionist.