By Todd Bumgardner, MS, CSCS ProSource
The ABCs of Scheduling Your BCAAs for Maximum Benefit
BCAAs have been a staple of bodybuilding supplementation for many years now. Years of research have established BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) as one of the most productive supplements on the market--every bodybuilder worth their weight in whey is consuming them.
Problem is, many times consumption is haphazard. As evidenced by the amount of email questions I receive, guys and gals still aren't sure when they should be consuming these magical muscle builders. That's about to change.
Below are five research based tips for timing BCAAs for the best effect.
Research shows that BCAAs play a role in glucose metabolism--helping your body use it more efficiently. BCAAs themselves are used to generate energy during gluconeogenesis. This is big for those that do morning cardio during cutting phases.
Many coaches promote completely fasted morning cardio, but consuming branched chains before or during training helps your body use stored carbohydrates more efficiently and provides an energy source when glycogen stores are depleted. Exhaust glycogen quickly and you won't be able to work as hard. As an added consequence, your body will catabolize muscle to meet energy demands.
BCAAs, however, are the superheroes that save the day. Use up your glycogen stores and branched chains will serve as a fuel source--allowing you to work harder for longer while sparing your muscle protein.
PRE-, PERI-, and POST-STRENGTH TRAINING
Branched chains ingested with carbohydrates pre-workout have a dramatic effect on muscle protein synthesis because muscle protein degradation is dampened when BCAAs--especially leucine--are in the blood stream. Thirty to sixty minutes before training, consume ten grams of BCAAs with thirty grams of carbohydrates to create a supremely anabolic environment.
Miss the opportunity to take BCAAs pre-workout? That's ok--ingesting them while training still limits protein degradation and promotes anabolism. BCAAs mediate signals that promote muscle protein synthesis before, during and after training.
To fight catabolism, and make the most of heavy strength training, use the pre-workout strategy listed above combined with five grams of BCAAs during training. Follow up training with a branched chain heavy whey shake that includes fast acting carbohydrates.
Intermittent fasting, (IF) if you're feeling trendy, has blitzkrieged the physique world. This dieting philosophy is saturated with strategies, all consisting of not eating for extended time periods--anywhere from fourteen to thirty-six hours. As crazy as it seems--and as far removed from conventional bodybuilding wisdom as it is--intermittent fasters are raving about their results. Claims include first rate fat loss and increased, intense focus.
During extended meal-free periods, your body needs a fuel source‚ÄĒand unless your body fat percentage *****s that of a pre-winter Walrus, your body is going to break down muscle protein for energy.
Sipping BCAAs every few hours while fasting provides the body with a readily available fuel source; sparing your precious and hard earned bulk. To meet this end, a good product to consider is Mega BCAA from ProSource because it contains a precise ratio of vastly superior, premium-grade aminos in clinically indicated dosages. ProSource's L-Leucine product is a great source of the most valuable BCAA, available in a 100% pure, high-potency form.
WITH A MEAL
Bodybuilders and athletes have been bombarding their digestive tracts with protein for decades. But absorption--especially regarding protein--is more important than ingestion. Rifling steaks down your gullet and chomping baked chicken by the pound is of little result if absorption is low. Sorry.
But before your cancel your subscription to Omaha Steaks and start cutting your chicken breasts into sixteenths, read the following with earnest. Leucine promotes protein absorption--making more efficient use of the protein you consume--resulting in greater muscle protein synthesis. Adding three grams of leucine to each meal has shown promise.
Modest effects take place soon after supplementation ensues, with greater gains taking place after a period of at least two weeks.
BCAAs have been on the scene since the 80's, and their research has been consistently encouraging for mass and physique aficionados. Many, however, have been haphazardly employing them without strategy. Now there's no excuse. Use the tips above to time your BCAA consumption for the best effect.