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BCAAs – Do I want them?

It’s four letters you hear pretty often from fitness folks, but what do they mean? More than that, why should you use them?

First, lets break it down on what BCAAs actually are. It stands for branched-chain amino acids. As you have a grueling workout you deplete you glycogen levels. Glycogen, for those who don’t know, is the stored form of carbohydrates. This is what fuels your muscles during workouts, so as you workout you deplete the glycogen levels in your body. As these levels get low, your body turns to three amino acids, leucine, isoleucine, valine. To help restore those levels, turn to, BCAAs.

So why do you want to use it? We’ve all been through a difficult workout that made us feel weak and sore. Of course rest and recovery is needed, but we can’t be taking a week or two off just to be able to walk again, especially when working towards a specific goal. BCAAs are beneficial help repair your muscles, allow them to grow a bit better and cut down on how sore you feel the next day.

These however will not improve upon your actual performance. Performance has to come from you and your own hard work. But they may assist in maintaining energy levels throughout a workout, so you don’t feel as exhausted.

For anyone considering investing in BCAA supplements, note these are not designed to be used every workout. If you are looking to just do cardio, supplements are probably unnecessary. The point is to assist in repairing muscles, so it shouldn’t be used as the end all be all form to fix your workout; if you have a light weight session it’s most likely unnecessary. It’s meant for a high intensity workout when you really tear your muscles.

Supplements are also not the only way to restore amino acids, they are readily available in various forms of foods, such as chicken breast, flank steak and canned tuna. But if you have a more vegetarian or vegan diet, or you are a bodybuilder then the supplement form may be the way to go.

However, the benefit of supplements is they take action sooner than food does. Since the liquid is free-form, requiring no digestion they may be absorbed more rapidly into your bloodstream than food is. So if you are sipping on BCAAs during your workout they can aid in immediate energy source for your workout, slowing down fatigue.


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