Why Bodybuilders Use BCAA Supplements and How to Decide if BCAAs are Right for You
May 26th, 2011
BCAA supplements, or branched chain amino acids, are used by bodybuilders as a way to optimize protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is the bodily process of utilizing the right combination of amino acids for the purpose of building new muscle tissue.
The foods that we eat can contain up to 22 different amino acids. 14 are naturally produced by the body, but 8 of them are not, and must be supplied to the body in the form of food. These 8 amino acids that are not produced by the body naturally are called essential amino acids.
Since all 22 amino acids are required for building new muscle, it is imperative for anyone that is serious about bodybuilding to make sure that they are feeding their body protein sources that contain the 8 essential amino acids.
Protein sources that contain the 8 essential amino acids include meats, poultry, fish, dairy, soy and whey. It is only the protein that comes from these sources that can be used by your body to gain muscle size.
Protein consumed from nuts, grains, rice, etc., do not contain the 8 essential amino acids required for muscle growth and cannot be used by your body for the purpose of building new muscle tissue.
This is where BCAA supplements come in.
Why You Should Take BCAA Supplements
When you consume protein that does not contain all 8 essential amino acids, you can
use a BCAA supplement to give your body the rest of the amino acids it needs to build new muscle.
So, if you are a vegetarian or get a large percentage of your daily protein requirements from incomplete protein sources, you should definitely consider using
BCAA supplements to make sure your body is able to use the protein in your diet for building new muscle.
On the other hand, if your protein sources are mostly comprised of the complete proteins listed above (meat, poultry, fish, dairy, soy and whey), BCAA supplements will not make much of a difference in terms of your muscle building results.
Other Benefits of BCAA Supplements
While optimized protein synthesis is the most prominent reason that bodybuilders use
BCAA supplements, it is also claimed that using BCAAs can help to increase muscular endurance, stimulate fat loss and strengthen the immune system.
However, I would not use a BCAA supplement for any of these benefits as these claims are largely unsubstantiated, and I have not noticed a considerable difference in any of these areas when taking BCAA supplements.
Purchasing BCAA Supplements
I have found that the best place to order BCAA supplements, and most other supplements online, is from
Bodybuilding.com. BodyBuilding.com offers BCAA supplements at discounted prices and usually ships orders within 24 hours from the time they are placed.