Our body uses twenty amino acids that make up the proteins inside. Out of these, nine are considered essential powder . The body cannot make them, so they must be obtained through our diet powder.
Three of these essential amino acids are Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA). They include leucine, isoleucine, and valine, making their way to our bodies through powders and supplements.
These amino acids can usually be found in protein-rich food like eggs, meat, and dairy products now in powder form. They are becoming popular as a dietary supplement in powder form, yet gym enthusiasts are looking to build muscle and cut fat through them.
When to take BCAA Powder
Fitness enthusiasts and trained athletes supplement their diets with bcaa powder or tablet because of the evidence that shows they help build muscle and reduce workout fatigue. There is little research that compares the benefits of taking BCAAs before or after exercise. However, here is information on BCAA supplement timing.
- Before or after exercise: There is no complete data that shows the difference when taking BCAA supplements before or after resistance weight training.
- During the window of time: There is a long-held theory that says you have 45 minutes to an hour after exercise to take BCAAs to maximise muscle-building benefits. However, newer research suggests that the window of time may be as wide as five hours after training.
- During exercise: Some say that taking BCAAs during workouts adds more endurance in training, especially in distance running and cycling. However, there is not enough evidence to prove such claims.
Benefits of BCAA Powder
- Increases muscle growth
Research suggests that there are benefits to taking BCAA supplements, whether in powder or tablet form. Here are some benefits of BCAAs:
Whey protein has the amino acids our bodies need to build muscle. However, while BCAAs can increase protein synthesis, they must be taken with other essential amino acids to complete the process.
- Decreases muscle soreness
It is common to feel sore a day or two after a heavy workout. This type of soreness, called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), develops twelve to twenty-four hours after exercise and can last for as long as 72 hours.
However, taking BCAA supplements has shown to decrease the length and severity of DOMS, which is why many recommend taking BCAA supplements before exercise.
- Prevent muscle breakdown
Muscle wasting is a sign of malnutrition. It occurs when the protein breakdown exceeds muscle protein synthesis. Thus, BCAAs and essential amino acids should be replaced during muscle wasting to slow its progression. The use of BCAA supplements helps improve health outcomes for certain populations.
Side Effects of BCAA Powder
BCAAs don’t usually have negative side effects unless they are taken for up to six months. However, here are the risks associated with BCAAs in case you are wondering what they are:
- Nausea: If it’s your first time using BCAA supplements, there is a slight chance that you might experience nausea because of the sudden changes within your system.
- Pain: Experiencing pain around different body parts is normal since you are attempting to boost your physical performance. However, make sure to double check with your physician if the symptoms persist.
- Headaches: There are cases wherein you will experience headaches if your body is not yet accustomed to the supplement. Make sure to take it slowly before deciding to use BCAA powder religiously.
- Interferes with blood glucose levels: BCAAs may affect your blood glucose levels, especially after surgery. Risks increase for those who have chronic alcoholism or ketoaciduria. Pregnant or breastfeeding women are also discouraged from taking BCAA supplements.
- Can interfere with drugs: Talk to your primary health care physician if you are taking diabetes or Parkinson’s medications, corticosteroids, thyroid hormones, or proglycem with your bcaa powder or supplement. This is so that they can check for any potential side effects of interactions with your other medications.
BCAA supplements provide nutrients that support muscle growth. Although, the necessity of taking these supplements is being questioned as they have little evidence of being more advantageous over food sources. With most people getting BCAAs and other essential amino acids in their diet, many believe there is little evidence that BCAA can provide additional benefits.