Author: James O’Sullivan • Fact checked by: Gainful Registered Dietitians • April 6, 2022
Timing is an essential part of any fitness routine. Setting a better time on your mile, extending the time we spend in the gym, spacing out rest periods between sets, and the way we balance rest and exercise not only give us goals to strive after but help us dig deep and unlock our potential.
Just as important as the time we spend exercising is how we make the most of our off-time. For all the hours we put into the gym, how we handle our time away from our exercise routine helps determine our effectiveness when we’re out there putting in the work.
Our commitment to our exercise during those rest hours can transform our performance. From professional athletes to casual gym-goers, supplemental nutrients can make all the difference in your fitness lifestyle — both in your output and your results.
The more you know about BCAAs, the better equipped you’ll be to choose the right supplement for you, incorporate them into your diet, and understand the best time to do so.
If you’ve begun to take an interest in the world of supplements, you may have heard of branched-chain amino acids already, or BCAAs for short. On the surface, the concept may seem complex, but essential amino acids like BCAAs are about as natural and important as they can be.
Amino acids are the foundational building blocks your body uses to create protein and jumpstart muscle growth. As you might imagine, protein is an absolute must for our bodies, especially in a fitness context. Amino acids are the precursors to our proteins, which in turn go on to make up our muscles, tissues, and more.
Branched-chain amino acids are specific types of amino acids. They’re essential amino acids, meaning that the body can’t create them independently. There are 20 amino acids in total in our bodies, nine of which we cannot produce if we don’t find them in our diet.
Because we need to get these particular amino acids from outside the body, they’re dubbed “essential,” as it’s critical to make sure we’re getting a steady supply.
There are three types of BCAAs. These chain amino acids are leucine, isoleucine, and valine, each of which is associated with different benefits. Together, they’ve been theorized to be related to our muscle mass, tissue growth, muscle repair, and more.
So, why are BCAAs so popular in the supplement world? Their benefits for muscle health have led gym-goers to include them in their supplement programs.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits BCAAs offer
One of the main benefits of BCAAs is that they are the building blocks of protein and thus can aid muscle protein breakdown post workout.
Amino acids like BCAAs have been studied regarding their role in muscle protein synthesis, the creation of the protein that helps build up our muscle mass.
BCCAs and their close relationship with muscle proteins have encouraged active individuals to cover their much-needed amino acids by using supplement powders with BCAA, such as the one we offer at Gainful, as a key part of the pre-workout routine. Gainful Personalized Pre-Workout combines BCAAs with beneficial L-theanine and beta-alanine to help you make the most of your workouts.
One BCAA in particular, leucine, has been shown to play a key role in muscle protein synthesis. Even small doses of leucine were found to have a potent effect on the creation of muscle proteins.
Because of their role in protein building, BCAAs have also been studied to see their association with restorative effects on muscle tissue.
When we exercise our muscles, we make tiny tears in our musculature with every rep. This isn’t as damaging as it sounds — it’s theorized that this is how we grow bigger muscles in the first place, by building on the repairs to the muscles we’ve exercised.
And what’s rebuilding those exercised muscles?
In all likelihood, the same thing that’s been building them up in the first place: amino acids like BCAAs. That’s why researchers have looked into this relationship between BCAAs and the recovery process.
There’s a strong indication that BCAA can help reduce your recovery time after exercise. In one study, folks who took supplemental BCAAs before doing squats reported lower levels of fatigue and muscle soreness, feeling much better than their counterparts who took placebos.
Gains are great. But fitness is a marathon, not a sprint.
Keeping our muscle strength over a long period of time can be particularly challenging if we don’t keep up the right kind of diet. With supplemental BCAAs in your program, you are letting the amino acids do some heavy lifting.
One BCAA, valine, helps get your muscles glucose, one of your body’s primary sources of energy. In doing so, it not only gives your muscles the boost they need to get you through your workout but assists in longer-term recovery and may help you sustain the gains you make.
BCAAs provide the proteins you need to build muscle, rebuild muscle, and sustain muscle. The goal with supplemental BCAAs is to ensure you’re getting all the essential amino acids your body needs to do this work.
The fitness world only gets more complex when you start wading into the world of supplements. But they’re not as complicated as they might seem at the start when you have trustworthy resources to guide you through all the information.
The search for the right supplements only gets more difficult when you’re uncertain about the product you’re receiving. We take a science-backed and expert-led approach to ensure every product in the Gainful portfolio will deliver results. At Gainful, we have Registered Dietitians on staff dedicated to providing 1:1 support for our customers.
We sweat the details so you don’t need to. Whatever your physical fitness goals are, we have the solution for you, with all the available information you need on how and when to use each product for the best results.
Like any program, be it your exercise routine or supplement schedule, finding the optimal time to maximize your efforts is key.
In the same way that spacing out your exercise for the week — your leg, chest, and back backs — tailoring your consumption of supplements to specific points of the day may have an impact on how your body digests and later utilizes the nutrients you’re taking.
With BCAAs, there isn’t much definitive research about the absolute optimal time to introduce them into your diet. However, there are a few points in the day where it makes sense for you to get your BCAA nutrition goals covered for practical purposes.
Powder supplements may be best consumed an hour or two before your workout. You’re mixing the powder with water, so it is helpful to spread this beverage out over those two hours to avoid drinking too much, too fast before your workout.
What’s clearest about BCAAs is that as essential amino acids, they're a cornerstone to our diet. There are plenty of foods that you can include in your diet to get these acids.
But for nutritional purposes, you can get the same effect of a loaded meal plan with supplement powders like Gainful Personalized Pre-Workout, loaded with naturally source leucines, isoleucines, and valines.
The best time for you to take BCAAs depends entirely on you and the level of physical activity you operate at.
The most common time to take pre-workout is once a day during that two-hour window before you start exercising. But for folks interested in keeping consistent with their BCAA intake, ensuring you use your supplement every morning or night ensures that your body gets the amino acids that go into building and repairing muscle tissue.
As with every part of your fitness lifestyle, the choice is based on your personalized goals.
Our physical fitness is a deeply personal experience. By removing the barriers between us and our goals, we realize our full potential.
Here at Gainful, we can help you along your fitness journey so you can achieve the success and gains you crave.
Our mission is to provide personalized performance products and 1:1 Registered Dietitian support to empower active people to reach their unique goals by transforming their health.
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