BCAAs...have you heard that term before? Have you been told that you need to be taking them in order to reach maximum fitness levels? But have you been wondering...WHAT ARE THEY?! And WHY DO I NEED THEM?! And IS IT EVEN TRUE??
BCAAs is the acronym for "branched chain amino acids." Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.
There are 9 essential amino acids, none of which are produced in a significant amount in the body. These need to be consumed as crucial components of a balanced diet. Of these 9, 3 of them are the BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Leucine may be considered a regulator of muscle protein synthesis which is muscle growth, or building muscle mass. The process of breaking down muscle, such as while performing resistance training, is muscle protein breakdown. If you have more muscle protein synthesis than muscle protein breakdown, you will have muscle growth.
It is widely claimed that BCAAs will help stimulate muscle protein synthesis and also aid in muscle endurance and recovery. Ingestion of excess amino acids can elicit an insulin response. Insulin has an important role in muscle protein synthesis. BCAAs in excess, or consumed throughout the day, the can help keep muscles in an anabolic state, which increases growth.
Excess nutrients may cause toxicity, or at the very least, create the need to expel the excess nutrients. Basically, if you are taking extra than the recommended daily allowances, you're just going to pee it out, so you might be just flushing it down the toilet. So if you wish to take supplements such as BCAAs, without the diagnosis of a deficiency of that nutrient, you should limit your intake to no more than 100% of the daily recommended dosage.
Crush BCAA supplement pictured above is posted with permission. Find all Crush products, including BCAAs and Pre-Workout on Crushfit.com.
**NOTE: BCAAs, as with most dietary supplements, are not regulated by the FDA. Speak with your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding before taking any dietary supplement. When I asked my doctor about taking them, she advised not to take them for many reasons, which included the lack of FDA approval, potential effects on baby, potential effects with hormones, etc. She said to me that it's just not worth the risk and to wait until I was not pregnant or breastfeeding anymore. But each doctor is different and each mama is different so, as always, ask your doctor!