The importance of proteins for both the active and sedentary individual cannot be gainsaid. Amino acids are what make this important macronutrient. Today, many athletes take what are known as branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) supplements. What are these, and how can you find the best products?
Well, branched-chain amino acids are essential amino acids with a branch. Not much of a definition, but it is the simplest one my equally simple mind could come up with. There are three known BCAAs. These are leucine, isoleucine and valine. Sometimes these are spelled with letter L and a dash in the beginning (example, l-leucine).
That they are also essential means that the body cannot produce them on its own and must get them through the diet.
What Are BCAAs Used For?
Branched-chain amino acids supplements are popular among both recreational and professional athletes. Also, they are used by various types of athletes including endurance athletes such as marathon runners as well as those in “power” sports including football, power lifting, weightlifting, basketball, and, of course, bodybuilding.
Athletes use BCAA supplements to enhance physical power and lean mass, as well as prevent mental fatigue and improve performance. Studies indicate that indeed these supplements can be beneficial. They also use for these supplements is to prevent muscle loss during dieting.
These supplements are also used as medicine in the treatment of certain diseases and conditions including Lou Gehrig’s disease, liver disease, tardive dyskinesia, and to slow muscle wasting for people who are confined in bed.
If bed-ridden people can use BCAAs to prevent muscle wasting (catabolism), then it naturally follows that active people can use them for the same reason during periods of intensive training and dieting.
Finding the Best Branched-Chain Amino Acids Supplements
As with virtually all supplements and especially popular ones such as BCAAs, all manner of products can flood the market. Some of these not worth the package they are in. Typically, cheap products equal cheap results. But there is more to this than just cost.
Most BCAA supplements are made from free-form amino acids. These are not bad per se, but they can be made better.
Including different forms of amino acids, such as ethyl esters, di-peptide and tri-peptide, may help enhance absorption. Having three branched-chain amino acids – that is, leucine, isoleucine and valine – in the right proportions is also important.
The most important of the three is leucine, as studies have shown it to have greater muscle-sparing effects than the other two. Leucine should therefore be in greater abundance. Our BCAA supplement of choice has all these characteristics.
Statements made on this page have not been evaluated by Food and Drug Administration. The product(s) featured is/are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, on medication, or have a medical condition, consult a licensed medical practitioner before starting on a new supplement.