BCAA supplements: how they help combat fatigue during exercise | plmubl.com

BCAA supplements: how they help combat fatigue during exercise

We’ve all been there. You made it to the gym (an achievement in and of itself), you’re mid-way through your workout, then suddenly the fatigue hits you and your muscles feel heavier than that kettlebell you’ve just been swinging.

Of course getting tired during exercise is normal, but when a friend introduced me to BCAA powder – which claims to help build and repair muscle and reduce soreness and fatigue – I was intrigued. So, a few months back, I introduced it to my workout regime, and the results so far have totally surprised me.

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What are BCAAs and how do they work?

“BCAAs – branched-chain amino acids – are special building blocks of protein,” explains Lisa Lorraine Taylor, certified personal trainer and nutritionist at Total Shape. “Unlike other amino acids, they go straight to your muscles, providing energy and aiding in muscle repair. They’re key players in muscle growth and endurance, making them essential for anyone active in sports or fitness.”

Of the 9 essential amino acids – the ones we must obtain through our diet, as our bodies cannot make them – three are considered to be branded-chain amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

These three BCAAs been proven to support muscle growth, reduce muscle soreness, and reduce fatigue from strenuous exercise. They’re most readily available in powder supplement form, ideal for adding to your water bottle during a gym session.

How do BCAAs reduce fatigue during exercise?

BCAAs tackle fatigue by lowering levels of certain enzymes like creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase, which are linked to muscle soreness and damage. Essentially, they act as a shield for your muscles during exercise, allowing for quicker recovery and less soreness. Indeed, studies show that participants who took BCAAs showed increased mental focus during exercise.

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There are of course plenty of variables that dictate the rate at which you tire from exercise – the intensity and duration of the workout, how fit you are – but if the research is anything to go by, it’s easy to see why adding BCAA powder to my fitness regime has helped beat the slump. I’m not quite Bradley Cooper in Limitless, but I’m certainly less lethargic on the treadmill.

When should I take BCAAs?

Look on the back of your BCAA powder, and the instructions usually say something like: ‘To be taken before, during, or after exercise.’ So, which is best?

“Timing is crucial with BCAAs,” says Lisa. “Taking them about 30 minutes before exercise is optimal, as studies show this is when their levels peak in your blood. However, they’re also effective during and after workouts, helping to sustain your energy and speed up recovery.”

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Which foods are rich in BCAAs?

“While supplements are an easy route, most people can get enough BCAAs from their diet,” explains Lisa. “Foods rich in protein like chicken, yogurt, and even plant-based combinations like rice and beans provide all the essential amino acids your muscles need.”

But Lisa points out that BCAA supplements are helpful for those with high-intensity training regimens or dietary restrictions.

Which are the best BCAA supplements?

I take the My Protein BCAA Impact 2:1:1 Powder (Berry Burst is my favourite, but there’s a whole bunch of flavours to choose from), which comes with a handy spoon and advises 5g (approx. 2 scoops) to 250ml of water or juice before, during or after exercise. I like to use my protein shaker to help dissolve the powder properly, and drink it half an hour before heading to the gym, as Lisa advises.

But there’s plenty of BCAA powders that come highly recommended. Here are the best…

Bulk Pure Instant BCAA Powder

£9.99 £5.99 AT BULK

£19.99 AT AMAZON

Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard BCAA Train + Sustain

£25.74 AT AMAZON

Grenade BCAA Intra Workout Powder Zero Sugar Drink

£25 £18.75 AT AMAZON

MyProtein Essential BCAA 2:1:1

£19 AT SAINSBURY’S

Women’s Best BCAA Amino

£29.90 £14.99 AT WOMEN’S BEST

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