The sports industry has long been filled with many false facts, manipulations, and simply misconceptions that benefit only sports nutrition manufacturers. In recent years, the most controversy and discussion has arisen around the topic of BCAA effectiveness. And although science today has proven that this supplement works, the number of misconceptions is still high. In this article, we will examine whether BCAAs help with weight loss, in what dosages it is necessary to use the supplement for a pronounced effect, and in what way amino acids actually accelerate fat burning.
What are BCAAs and How Do They Work?
In short, BCAAs are branched-chain amino acids. Muscles consist of 33-36 percent of them. However, unlike glutamine (which makes up 55–60 percent of the muscles), these three amino acids have a major effect on muscle growth, protection, and recovery. Simply put, BCAAs are Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine, which are essential amino acids. Absolutely every person needs them at any age, but nevertheless, it is in sports that they are not enough. An additional intake of amino acids from sports nutrition allows you to get extremely important support for your muscles. The main and most pronounced effects of BCAAs are usually:
- muscle protection from destruction during a diet or intense training;
- accelerating the growth of lean muscle mass;
- fat burning acceleration;
- increasing the effectiveness of sports nutrition.
Despite the impressive list of effects, BCAAs have proven themselves best in weight loss and muscle protection. Moreover, it is worth considering that the most “valuable” amino acid in the complex is Leucine. Therefore, to get the best effect, it is better to choose additives with a ratio of 2: 1: 1.
Benefits of BCAA for Weight Loss
Now let’s look at exactly how amino acids will help in fat loss and why BCAA slimming has become a must-have supplement. Initially, it is important to understand that losing weight and fat burning are two different things.
- Slimming usually refers to total weight loss, which is achieved through diet and athletic training.
- Fat burning is a more complex process, the essence of which is to remove only excess fat, while preserving muscle mass.
Without sports supplements, it is almost impossible to avoid muscle breakdown during exercise, especially with a low-calorie diet, so the use of BCAA is becoming almost mandatory. It is also important to maintain muscle mass because it increases the constant calorie consumption of the body, which will remove excess fat even faster, since energy will go to maintain and work the muscles.
According to studies, the use of BCAA does not directly affect fat burning. Unlike fat-burning supplements, for example, with a thermogenic matrix, geranium, yohimbine, and other components that increase body temperature and “force” it to burn more calories, BCAAs act differently. The first effect, as already mentioned, is the protection of muscles from destruction, and the more muscle mass, the greater the calorie consumption (even at rest at night). The main benefit of the supplement for losing weight is to increase the production of the hormone Leptin. Its level increases with the additional intake of Leucine. So, for fat burning it is always better to take a ratio of 4: 1: 1 or even 8: 1: 1, although the effectiveness of the latter has not yet been supported by many clinical studies.
What is leptin? This is a hormone that is responsible for many metabolic functions, although the main one is controlling body weight and affecting the rate of fat utilization. The higher the amount of fat in the body, the more Leptin is produced, which is a kind of natural defense against obesity. It is for this reason that everyone who begins to lose weight loses weight very quickly in the first weeks, and after 6-7 weeks – extremely slowly. It depends on the so-called “energy-saving mode”, which the body enters under certain conditions because the level of Leptin production decreases. With the help of Leucine, which is the main amino acid in the BCAA complex, you can slightly increase the level of Leptin production. The body will “think” that the amount of fat is high enough and will trigger mechanisms for its utilization.
This is the main “fat-burning” action of BCAA, which in practice nevertheless gives a rather pronounced effect. In conclusion, we can say that the additive maximally shows its full potential precisely during fat burning or drying. Amino acids are especially needed for girls who, due to natural causes and the characteristics of the hormonal system, find it harder to lose excess fat without destroying muscle fibers.
How Much and When to Take BCAA When Cutting?
Now consider the most important thing – how to take BCAA for weight loss. Manufacturers often recommend drinking the supplement 3-4 times a day to increase the consumption of amino acids and thereby increase sales. According to many studies, there are only three relevant times when an additional BCAA supplement will really help:
- in the morning on an empty stomach or before cardio;
- before training;
- after training.
Why at this particular time? It is important to understand that the powder or capsules that are manufactured by sports food manufacturers are the refined raw materials that Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine consist of.
Many companies simply do not want to say that these three amino acids are in any form of protein of animal origin, and in sufficiently high quantities. Therefore, if you eat a portion of 250 grams of boiled breast, 2-3 whole eggs or low-fat dairy products, then you will already receive about 10 grams of BCAA. Needless to say, the reception of 4 grams against the general background will be completely invisible.
Nevertheless, it is important to take into account the main property of the additive – the purified form, which is absorbed as quickly as possible. Simply put, the first point is excluded from the “digestion – assimilation – transportation into muscles” algorithm. As a result, if after eating a serving of chicken, the muscles get the necessary amino acids no earlier than 2-3 hours (and maybe longer, depending on the conditions), then when using the supplement this period will be reduced to 30-40 minutes. From this, it follows that the benefits of the taken amino acids will be relevant only when deciding the speed, that is, in the morning (after nocturnal catabolism), as well as during physical activity. Also, the question of how to drink the supplement depends on the form.
In the case of pills, it is best to drink before and after training.
In the case of powder – stir a portion with water and drink it evenly throughout the workout. Amino acids from ordinary food should also be considered. For example, if you ate a portion of protein food 2-2.5 hours before training, then right at the beginning of your work the muscles will get the right amount of BCAA, in which case you need to drink amino acids during or after training.
In general, if you really decided to maximize the efficiency of fat burning and the efforts that you make in the gym and in nutrition, then the BCAA complex should be the No. 2 supplement on your list, immediately after the fat burner.
It is worth noting that amino acids are still a more versatile form of sports nutrition and many fat burners contain harmful substances and stimulants. In some circumstances, BCAA may even become No. 1.