What is BCAA?
BCAA is an abbreviation of the English banched‑chain amino acid referring to branched‑chain amino acids. These amino acids cannot be created by the human body on its own and must be taken in the diet or with the help of supplements. Three amino acids fall into this group - valine, leucine and isoleucine.
Functions of BCAAs
Muscle fibers are made up of proteins, those of amino acids, which include branched chain ones. During physical activity, the body can also use some amino acids, typically BCAAs, as a source of energy. So if we want to reduce the rate of muscle fibre degradation, we should think about supplementing them. Other features include:
- help with recovery,
- promote muscle protein synthesis,
- they can reduce the fatigue experienced during physical exercise.
How and when to take BCAAs
The ideal source of BCAAs nowadays is whey protein (30 g of protein contains 8 g of BCAAs), which, thanks to the content of other amino acids, allows the formation of new proteins. Thus, taking BCAAs alone does not bring much benefit. However, if BCAA supplementation is taken:
- before training - to ensure the protection of muscle mass, especially suitable during dieting,
- post‑workout - in combination with a source of other amino acids (e.g. whey protein) to maximise muscle protein synthesis and promote recovery,
- during the day - particularly suitable for individuals with a low intake of quality protein (usually vegans and vegetarians).
BCAAs should be taken in combination with other proteins, which may increase their anabolic potential.
From the above methods of use, it is possible to put together an individual BCAA dosage plan. However, you will most often see a recommendation of 5‑10 g of BCAAs before or during training. In any case, one dose should not exceed 20 g.
Is 2:1:1 or 4:1:1 BCAA better?
As mentioned earlier, the abbreviation BCAA stands for three amino acids - leucine, isoleucine and valine - and the ratio of these amino acids is captured by the 2:1:1 or 4:1:1 labels (you will also see 8:1:1 or 10:1:1 variants on the market). It is leucine, which is represented in BCAA mixtures for the most part, that is the amino acid with the greatest anabolic potential. Even so, a higher dose of leucine is unnecessary, as its effectiveness is closely linked to the presence of other amino acids.
Thus, the best results have been shown to be achieved with the "classic" 2:1:1 ratio, which represents the representation of amino acids in natural sources.
Which BCAAs to go for?
BCAAs can be found in various forms. The most widely used products are in powder form, which can be easily mixed in water or juice. However, they are also gaining popularity BCAA drinks or BCAA tablets, which are instant and convenient to take. Try BCAA brands such as Nutrend, Extrifit or Myprotein and take your performance to the next level!