The reason for this is that supplements are the main money making machine of the fitness world, and as such it is the supplement companies that control everything. Athletes rely on them for sponsorships and events rely on them for funding, which is all OK of course. The problems arise when people, who are often uninformed, go out to purchase said products.
You see marketing has become so aggressive nowadays that companies write all sorts of stuff on their products to try and get you to buy them, but these claims are rarely 100% true. It is important to understand that label claims are not actually approved by the FDA and as such you cannot rely upon them to asses a product’s effectiveness. So what can you actually rely upon? During my 7 years of training (as of writing this post) I have learned that the two key ways of judging a supplement are its ingredients label and legit reviews.
Doing research on the product’s ingredient label will allow you to actually see what is inside it, while reading reviews will give you a summary of what other people experienced with it. Now supplements come in many different shapes, but this particular post will look at BCAAs. Let us see what they are, how they work, and what side effects they have.
What Are BCAAs?
BCAA stands for branched-chain amino acids, which are basically amino acids with a specific “branched look”, hence their name. In order to understand what these are you have to first understand what amino acids are in general. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and fall under two categories: essential amino acids and non-essential amino acids. The essential ones are only obtainable from outside sources such as food or supplements while the non-essential ones are actually made by the body itself. The term “BCAAs” refers to 3 of these essential amino acids known as leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
Such supplements generally come in pill form; at least many of the ones that I saw did. There are however other variations including powder, chewables, and even liquids. Generally speaking it is the powder and pill forms that are most cost effective, since the others often cost a lot given their “novelty” form. Regardless of which form you choose to buy them in, you need to be aware that not all BCAA supplements are made in the same way.
Benefits Of Using BCAAs
These supplements are great when it comes to multiple things:
- Preserving muscle – when the body becomes low in energy (particularly during and after a workout) it will cannibalize itself for energy. One of the first things it goes for are the BCAAs, and as such providing an outside source will prevent such catabolism.
- Recovery – Supplementing with these amino acids will reduce the time it takes for your muscles to heal.
- Size – BCAAs also help to increase protein synthesis, and we all know by now that protein is what actually builds muscle.
- Insulin function – BCAAs have been shown to help improve insulin’s function in the body. Insulin is how the body transports nutrients to cells, so the better it works, the better said cells will be fed.
When one consumes such supplements he should follow the directions found on the tub, but as a general guideline they are often taken either before, during, or after a workout. As for how much you need to take, I generally took 2 servings per day although 1 is also good; check the back of the tub to see how much is 1 serving.
It normally takes around 3 weeks for people to start seeing results from BCAA supplements, although for some others it can take even up to 10 weeks. It is often recommended to take a break after 12 weeks of use to prevent your body from building tolerance; 4 weeks are generally enough but I like to take more.
BCAAs Side Effects
Just like many other supplements out there, BCAAs are 100% safe and carry absolutely no side effects which is why they are freely available. I can attest to this personally since I have taken such products time and time again and never suffered the ill consequence.
That ends this article guys, I hope you have found it informative. Remember to always do your due research when buying supplements so that you always make the correct choice. If you have anything to add or wish to ask something, don’t hesitate in order to leave a comment below.