1.What Are They?
BCAAs, or Branched Chain Amino Acids, is the collective name given to the essential amino acids L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine and L-Valine. Structurally, these 3 amino acids all contain an aliphatic side chain with a branch, hence why they are referred to as branched chain amino acids.
Peptide bound BCAAs can be found in almost every food that contains protein, while free form BCAAs are commonly found in many intra-workout amino acid supplements.
BCAAs account for approximately 35% of the essential amino acids in human muscle tissue.
Unlike most amino acids, BCAAs bypass the liver and are primarily oxidized in skeletal muscle.
2.What Do They Do?
Individually, L-Leucine stimulates muscle protein synthesis, while L-Isoleucine induces glucose uptake into cells and promotes glucose metabolism. L-Isoleucine & L-Valine can also both be converted into glucose and used by the body as a source of fuel, hence sparing other amino acids from being broken down from muscle tissue and being used to create energy.
Collectively, BCAAs prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue (catabolism), reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), and assist with muscle recovery.
BCAAs have also been shown to buffer the increase of serotonin in the brain during exercise, hence reducing the perception of fatigue and in turn enhancing exercise performance & endurance.
3.When Do I Take Them?
To prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue for energy and enhance exercise performance, free form BCAAs can be taken immediately before workouts or sipped during workouts.
To reduce delayed onset muscle soreness and assist with muscle recovery, free form BCAAs can be consumed immediately after workouts or throughout the day.
The improve muscle protein synthesis, free form BCAAs can be consumed anytime during the day with, or in between, meals.
The most effective dose of free form BCAAs is 5g-10g per serve.
The most effective ratio of free form BCAAs is 2 L-Leucine to 1 L-Isoleucine to 1 L-Valine (2:1:1 Ratio).
4.How Long Do They Take To Work?
BCAAs go to work as soon as they enter the bloodstream, which is typically within minutes of consumption. Although many of the effects of BCAAs are not immediately noticeable, when used in conjunction with a sensible diet and workout regime you can expect to experience the full effects of BCAAs within the first few days of use.
5.How Much Do They Cost?
Supplements containing an efficacious dose of free form BCAAs range in price from $1.00 to $3.00 per serve, depending on the size and dosage, and the other ingredients included in the product.
Based on an average price of $1.50 per serve, and based on five serves per week, supplementing with free form BCAAs will typically cost around $30 per month.