What Are BCAAs Anyway?

Navigating the supplements aisle of the local health store or pharmacy can be intimidating.

So many unpronounceable names and shiny labels…

But there’s one supplement that you really should know more about. It’s called branched chain amino acids, or BCAAs for short. And while it’s usually placed in the muscle building section, a BCAA supplement is actually a powerful weapon in the fight against fat.

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Here’s what you should know:

BCAAs consists of three essential amino acids, namely isoleucine, leucine and valine. They play an important role in the assimilation, maintenance and repair of muscle tissue. So much so, that they make up 40% of the daily requirement of amino acids.

In action, these amino acids work as substrates for other amino acids, which are released in large quantities during intense exercise. And they are used directly for fuel by muscles, which in turn stops the catabolism of muscle tissue during an intense workout. This is shown to enhance your recovery, priming you for success in subsequent workouts. What’s more, BCAAs restrict the release of cortisol during exercise, and also help to ease the delayed-onset muscle pain that can follow a solid weight training session.

Plenty of good reasons to invest in BCAAs, right?

Where do you get BCAA supplements?

Remember, firstly, that the essential amino acids are those that your body doesn’t manufacture; you get them from foods (or through supplements). Protein sources with the highest concentration of BCAAs include chicken, beef, salmon and eggs. A good reason to supplement with a BCAA product is that it’s more bioavailable, entering the bloodstream more rapidly instead of having to be fully digested first and then absorbed.

Author: Tanja Schmitz

Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.