Essential supplement or not? What you need to know about BCAAs

Essential supplement or not?

What you need to know about BCAAs


BCAAs… Why they may not be worth taking


Do you take multiple supplements to assist you in your fitness goals? Have you stopped to ask yourself exactly why you’re taking them though? Do you know which ones are helping you and which ones aren’t?


I get it, it’s human nature to get your hands on anything that may give you an ‘edge’, and high up on the current list of popular supplements is BCAAs. What you may not know about them though, is that they’re commonly misunderstood. As a personal trainer and fitness expert, it’s my job to break it down and help you determine whether you really need them in your life and not just because they’re ‘cool’.


Let’s see what all the fuss is about.



What exactly are BCAAs?

BCAAs stands for branched-chain amino acids. Want to get technical? The ‘branched-chain’ refers to the chemical structure of the three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. They are the building blocks of proteins and make up about 35% of your muscle mass and are essential for growth and development.


What you may be unaware of, is that your body receives BCAAs from protein found in food such as meat, dairy products and legumes.


Initially used by healthcare providers to help patients with liver disease, BCAAs have become increasingly popular as a supplement, particularly with bodybuilders, athletes and gym enthusiasts.


Although there have been no conclusive studies to date, evidence suggests that taking BCAAs may:


  1. Reduce fatigue caused by exercise, meaning you’ll experience less post-exercise soreness


  1. Minimise the breakdown of muscle tissue during exercise, meaning you’ll recover quicker






Should I be taking BCAAs?


Now that you know a bit more about BCAAS, should you be taking them or not?


In a recent study, participants worked out by performing exercises to elicit muscle pain. Half the participants were given BCAAs both before and after the workout, while the other half were given placebos.


And the result?


There was no difference between the two groups and nothing to suggest higher than average muscle or notable differences in the level of fatigue experienced after taking BCAA supplements – interesting, right?


So, unless your diet is especially low in protein, I recommend you save your cash and treat yourself to better quality protein food sources, such as organic chicken and fish instead (they taste better too).


So, to summarise: If you’re consuming more than 1.2kg of protein per day, it’s not worth taking BCAAs.




What supplements should I be taking?

You may now be asking “What supplements should I be taking?”.  With so much information out there, it’s almost impossible to know the difference between fact and fiction and you’re not alone in this confusion. Especially when commercial supplement manufacturers are employing expert marketers for high level information manipulation (sigh).


There is no ‘one size fits all’ supplement. Why? Because we’re all different! Whether it’s protein powder, multivitamins and even creatine, the right supplementation strategy depends on many factors, including your genetics, diet, lifestyle and goals.


I would never recommend blindly putting something into your body just because it’s trendy, or a random guy at the gym recommends it. The same goes for ‘super foods’, they’re not all super…And really, some supplements could even do you more harm than good. Which is why a better strategy would be to do a bit of research and build your understanding of what’s going to help you improve and optimise your health.


I know it can be overwhelming and who has time for all that research? That’s why I’m here to offer you my expertise. If you’re in Perth and want some help understanding how to improve your health and achieve your fitness goals, then set up an appointment and I’ll help you take your health to the next level.

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