Branched-Chain Amino Acids For Building Muscle
Many YOGs and wannabe YOGs approach me about the preferred uses and dosage of protein when it comes to building muscle. The following article provides a few tips to get you started…
Amino acids are split up in 2 groups: Essential and Non-Essential:
Since Non-essential amino acids are produced by the body I will not discuss them in this article. Instead let’s focus on the what to feed ourselves in order to get the most out of our workouts.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are essential amino acids. Namely valine, leucine and isoleucine. They are essential which means we must get them through diet as our bodies do not produce them. Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein and have multiple functions related to energy production before and after workouts. Therefore, they are needed during the ‘rebuild window’ and the correct amount is vital.
Make sure you are getting your Amino Acids from a trusted source and keep them as pure as possible. Most protein powders will have BCAAs however, absorption is key so just another reason to get a pure protein powder. I personally use a pea protein free of all the chemicals a lot of ‘meathead’ stores sell. Remember that 36g of protein does not mean your body will accept all 36 grams.
Branch chain Amino Acids have long been used to prevent fatigue and improve concentration, but the most common practice of taking BCAAs is to improve exercise performance and reduce muscle breakdown. Some practitioners have even used BCAAs to treat Lou Gehrig’s disease, brain conditions due to liver disease and cancer patients. Not only do BCAAs promote muscle recovery, they play an important role helping regulate the immune system which can be weakened after intense or prolonged exercise. Another notable use is that BCAAs spare muscle glycogen, or energy stored in muscles.
A balanced diet with adequate protein provides enough BCAAs, even for the strenuous exerciser. It is noted that no amount above 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight is beneficial. The key is trying to get them into your diet through meat, fish, eggs and legumes. Dairy is another option however due to the rising intolerance of casein (the main protein in dairy) I would suggest minimizing it. For those of you that are loading up with higher doses of protein, make sure you stay very well hydrated as water loss can be increased from nitrogen excretion during protein breakdown.