When training for muscle gain, it is commonly recognised that there are two factors you need to control to get results:
1) control the amount of muscle tissue breakdown and 2) increase the amount of protein synthesis taking place through training and diet. BCAAs are essential in this equation as they do both. They are a strong anti-catabolic i.e. they stop the body using muscle tissue as an energy source. Just as importantly, research has shown that BCAAs actually increase muscle growth by stimulating protein synthesis.
BCAAs are a very important tool to have for hard trainers; their benefits have now been shown to be far greater than just the prevention of muscle breakdown. As a supplement, they are vital to take around and during the workout. This article looks into why BCAAs are such an essential supplement to take and how they can be of benefit for anyone looking to gain weight.
The Role of BCAAs in Weight Gain
BCAAs have been proven to increase protein synthesis (i.e. the building of muscle tissue) regardless of an individual training or not. Conclusions from these studies hypothesise that this is down to the effect BCAAs have on the body. When the body has a high amount of BCAAs, it thinks these have come from breaking down muscle tissue and so tries to minimise this before it becomes detrimental. This happens through inducing a release of certain muscle building hormones, all of which will stimulate the body to put on lean muscle tissue.
BCAAs and Training Goals
So, the key to increasing muscle size is to control muscle breakdown and stimulate muscular repair. As BCAAs do both of these, they play an important part in helping you reach your goals. A good diet and targeted supplementation will help to keep the body in a positive state where it will be more likely to build muscle rather than break it down. The better your diet and glycogen storage, the more likely your BCAA pool will be used for building muscle tissue than being burnt for energy. This is the ultimate goal of a good diet and training regime; maximising the opportunity to put protein down as muscle tissue. BCAAs will help to keep you in this state, especially during and recovering from an intense workout.
BCAA Depletion & Plateuas
A lot of the time training plateaus can be overcome by simple BCAA supplementation. You may have felt it at some point; the depletion of BCAAs manifests as a lack of energy, mental focus, endurance, prolonged recovery times and training stagnation. The body breaks down that hard earned muscle tissue; as a direct result recovery times suffer, as does strength. BCAA supplementation ensures the body can recover faster, allowing you to train hard and more often. More sessions hitting heavier weights will obviously make a huge difference in progression towards your goals. BCAAs have actually been proven to work via the brain in delaying fatigue. The amino acid tryptophan is responsible for producing a neurotransmitter (serotonin) that signals to the brain that the body is fatigued. The BCAA valine actually competes with tryptophan for entry into the brain, thereby potentially lowering serotonin levels and delaying fatigue.
All the benefits of BCAAs are ideally suited to weight gain. For maximum benefit, this needs to be as a part of a good diet and training routine, but the evidence is there, as are the results.