With BCAAs being touted and a muscle-building wonder supplement, you’re no doubt curious as to whether they live up to the hype and whether you should actually be taking them.
Just so you’re in the know, let me present you with all the facts about BCAA as well as rounding up the best BCAA supplements for men on the market right now.
What Are BCAAs?
Maybe you’re new to the weight room and while trying to figure out the timing of protein powders and fat burners, some guy throws in a sneaky “you’re not taking BCAAs?” just for good measure.
What? Another supplement? Is it really necessary? If you’re looking to get a body that will secure you a role in the next Magic Mikemovie, BCAAs could be the pot of gold at the end of your workout rainbow.
Need the ABCs of BCAAs? First off, it stands for branched chain amino acids which are the building blocks of protein. Although there are 20 amino acids, only nine of those are essential when it comes to your diet.
When it comes to muscle building goodness, you only need to think about the epic trilogy of leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
Leucine can help you unlock the next level of physical potential. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends around 2-3 grams, 3 times per day. (source)
Isoleucine and valine are leucine’s minions. All three work together in harmony to encourage protein synthesis, stop the breakdown of muscle and aid recovery.
Where to Find BCAAs
Branched chain amino acids can be found in protein rich foods. Animal sources offer a complete amino acid profile. Plant based protein, not so much.
If you eat a well balanced, protein rich diet, chances are you don’t need additional support in the BCAA department. However, if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, use intermittent fasting diets or weight train to excess, BCAA supplements may be beneficial to you.
When to Take Branched Chain Amino Acid Supplements?
The first crucial window is right before training. This will allow your body to use the BCAAs as fuel, rather than resorting to your muscles’ BCAA stores. This will also help to reduce cortisol levels, ensuring you’re in a more anabolic state while training.
Also, combining BCAAs with your post workout protein powder will enhance protein synthesis and in turn aid muscle growth.
Furthermore, some people choose to use BCAA supplements first thing in the morning after fasting through the night. With no food for fuel, your body will start breaking down muscle proteins for energy. Using BCAA supplements at this time will give your body an alternative fuel source.
What To Look For in a BCAA Supplement
First and foremost, take a good look at the label. Ideally, go for something that will give you a complete amino acid profile to get the most out of your training. Usually a 2:1:1 ratio is recommended (leucine: isoleucine: valine).
Supplements tend to come in powder or pill form. There’s not much difference between the two in terms of quality. It’s simply a matter of preference and palatability. However, taking pills numerous times a day is not everyone’s cup of tea, so often powders are the way to go.
You also want to check extra ingredients like sugar and carbohydrates. Although many people want to avoid sugars and carbohydrates when trying to maintain a lean physique, flavored options often contain either some sugars or artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners should be avoided as only a handful have been approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) (such as the natural sweetener stevia). A low sugar option is a better choice in most cases.
The Best BCAA Supplements for Men
With so many supplements out there, finding the right one for you can be like searching for a needle in a haystack. Not to worry, I’ve looked at what’s out there and chosen five quality products to share with you today.
I’ve listed pros and cons for each as well as rated them out of five. This makes it easier to make an informed decision about which BCAA supplement will meet your needs.
For me it has to be the BulkSupplements brand. Knowing this supplement is third party tested for purity puts your mind at rest about the quality of what you are putting into your body. It is also a great price and I think this would make a good choice for anyone looking to add BCAAs into their diet.
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