by Registered Dietician Tony Castillo
What Are Amino Acids? Can they help you build muscle and lose weight?
BCAAs, aka branched-chain amino acids, are the building blocks of protein. And what comes to mind when we think of protein?
Amino acids play a vital role when growing or rebuilding new muscle. Our bodies have 20 in total: 11 of them are non-essential, which means your body makes them, and 9 of them are essential, meaning you have to get them from food.
Of the 9 essential amino acids, leucine is the most important one. Your body uses leucine during exercise to start repairing muscle. It’s important to replace that leucine afterwards to help stimulate protein synthesis and allow your body to build more muscle.
Think of it this way: There’s a switch in your body that gets turned on and off every 3-4 hours. To help turn it on, you need 2-3g of leucine. You can get that 2-3g from food, such as a cup of cottage cheese or 3 ounces of chicken breast.
Not only are BCAAs important to muscle growth, but studies have revealed they can help with muscle soreness and fatigue. That means you’ll have a better recovery, which will set you up for success during your next workout so you can continue building that muscle.
BCAAs and weight loss
People tend to lose weight when they go on a calorie-restrictive diet. However, they’re also likely to lose muscle mass and fat mass.
You can preserve that muscle mass by ensuring leucine is present every 3-4 hours. That’s when a BCAA supplement can be beneficial. One study even revealed that people on calorie-restrictive diets were able to maintain lean body mass when they were supplementing with BCAAs.
I recommend RSP Nutrition's AminoLean-- it contains 5g of essential amino acids- BCAAs and EAAs. It also has a focus and energy blend, natural weight management ingredients, natural caffeine from green tea extract, and acts as a recovery solution. If you're looking for a vegan pre workout, RSP also has their Vegan AminoLean to suit a vegan lifestyle! Its natural energy blend doesn't provide any jitters or crash, which is why it is rated as one of the best pre workout for women.
It’s easier if you have a well-rounded diet and then you can take a BCAA supplement in addition to the protein you’re already getting. Make sure to buy things like chicken, eggs, and salmon, which all contain high amounts of protein to help turn on your body’s muscle-building switch.