BCAAs are some of the most popular supplements around, with a venerable history in the world of strength sports and bodybuilding.
These are essential amino acids that your body can’t produce internally and is required to get from the diet.
Today we’re going to be discussing the supplementation of BCAAs – what they’re for and what the best BCAA capsules need to do for you.
We’ve decided on Performance Lab’s SPORT BCAA as our #1 product but don’t take our word for it – read on and we’ll cover everything you need to know about branched chain amino acids and what to look for when buying yours!
What Are They?
The first question about BCAAs is simply what are BCAAs?
BCAA stands for branch-chain amino acids. This is a sub-group of essential amino acids that are closely tied to the processes your body uses to build muscle and combat fatigue during exercise. As mentioned above, you need to get these from your diet since your body can’t produce them.
There are 3 BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are found in combination in a good BCAA supplement, though leucine is the most important – as this is the compound most closely related to muscle growth and maintenance.
Amino acids themselves are the building blocks of proteins, which are the building blocks of muscles and tendons. These are significant for many reasons, and they’re one of the key reasons that your body has protein requirements – amino acids and proteins are used in central processes and help your body perform essential maintenance on tissues.
BCAAs – Role and Benefits
There are layers to why BCAA supplements can be helpful and beneficial. They’re amino acids, essential compounds, and they contribute to:
Amino Acid intake and BCAA intake
the first, most obvious benefit to BCAA intake is as another source for amino acids. These compounds make up around 40% of your required amino acid intake for basic deficiency-busting.
The intake of amino acids is important for everyone – whether your goals are health and fitness or maximum muscle mass. The health-benefits of amino acid abundance include reduced aging-related breakdown and may even support optimal tissue repair after exercise and activity.
The essential nature of BCAAs is a good reason to put some extra attention on them. These compounds are found in food, but supplementary doses are possible and overall AA/BCAA intake can improve health and performance measures…
The key benefit of BCAA intake is combatting fatigue during exercise and prolonged activity. They’re a useful supplement for reducing fatigue and improving time to exhaustion during exercise – especially during the early days of training when you may need them most.
These benefits are most effective when combined with an effective pre-workout, which can be used to improve overall exercise performance. For example, the Performance Lab SPORT Pre-workout is designed to maximize workout performance and complements the BCAA capsules perfectly.
This effect also has some interesting knock-on effects that can be useful for performance and health.
For example, BCAA intake improves reaction times during/after exercise (great for complicated sports), while also improving overall fat oxidation. This doesn’t make it a fat-burner – it just means that the increased fatigue-resistance allows you to improve fat burning during exercise!
These are still important benefits and they can make for significant real-world benefits when used consistently and in-line with your goals.
Leucine intake – an indicator mechanism for muscle growth?
The question of whether leucine intake increases muscle gains is still an open discussion. There are studies on both side of this debate – though the overall tendency is to suggest that leucine-specific requirements are higher during periods of muscle-building.
The intake of Leucine at supplementary doses has often been shown to be beneficial to muscle mass, while deficiency is directly inhibitory, reducing muscle growth.
This is because leucine is a compound that signals for protein-abundance in the body. This is a state where your body has sufficient protein to repair muscles and contribute extra proteins to the synthesis of new muscle fiber tissues.
Leucine is the key amino acid that is detected as an indicator of proteins. If you are lacking in Leucine, your signaling is limited and your ability to repair and build muscle tissue is likely to decrease.
Leucine and HMB for anti-catabolic effects
On the other side of the coin, leucine and its metabolites (like HMB) are crucial for preserving muscle mass during a calorie-restricted diet.
Studies are clear that Leucine and HMB are anti-catabolic. This means that they preserve muscle, reducing the breakdown of muscle proteins into amino acids for conversion to glucose – a process that often occurs during a calorie-restricted diet.
If you’re focusing on a fat-loss diet then the SPORT Fat-Burner from Performance Lab is a great way to improve HMB intake and maintain muscle while losing fat. This is a great supplement-combo for improving your results and ensuring you stay strong and muscular while getting lean!
This is especially effective when combined with resistance exercise and other higher-intensity training. These are already shown to produce favorable muscle-sparing results, but when combined with a course of supplementary Leucine or HMB, these results are even more significant.
This can make a significant difference when you’re trying to lose weight, but you want to maintain muscle mass that you’ve already built. Weight loss can be as much as 50% muscle mass, which can be a serious problem if you want a lean, muscular physique at the end of your diet.
What Should You Look for in a BCAA Supplement?
There are a few factors that make a serious difference to the kind of product you want. The best BCAA capsules hit a few key criteria that make them worth your time, effort, and money.
- Dose and Ratio
The overall usefulness of a BCAA supplement requires the actual dose of active ingredients to support your health and fitness goals. There’s no point putting your money to any supplement that doesn’t actually provide enough BCAA to make a difference.
You also want a product that provides the natural 2:1:1 ratio that your body maintains. This provides the most available and abundant source of BCAAs in a well-balanced and nature-identical format.
Make sure you’re getting at least 1g per serving, and ideally more – like the 3g you can get from a single serving of Performance Lab’s SPORT BCAA. Supplementary doses of BCAA are proven to be safe at and above 10g, so there’s no real risk to a high dosage. Indeed, Performance Lab recommend taking up to 3g or 6g of BCAAs pre- and post-workout, depending on your needs, and also point out that an additional 3g can be taken intra-workout for extra high intensity workouts.
The quality of your supplement is a key indicator of the results you can expect. A high-quality approach to raw materials, production, and a focus on improving the basics.
This begins with the selection of effective and appropriate sources for the ingredients in your BCAA. We value the nature-mimicking compounds and those with high bioavailability scores, since these are most effective gram-per-gram and ensure you’re getting what you pay for.
Effective manufacturing without unnecessary or ‘filler’ compounds makes sure that you get the best of these natural ingredients. Avoid excessive processing or bleaching where possible and look for the good manufacturing practices certification.
This two-step process of choosing the best ingredients and manufacturing with them in a responsible way is why we love Performance Lab’s SPORT BCAA. This product uses sunflower lecithin-derived BCAAs to provide the most bioavailable form of BCAA supplement.
- Brand Reputation and History
A brand’s reputation for transparency, integrity, and quality all impact on the value of their individual products.
The quality of a brand is an indicator of the quality of the product. Their manufacturing practices and integrity are the key indicators of the quality and reliability of their products. This is even more true in the supplement industry where lower-quality brands often fill their products with illicit or “off-label” compounds.
This is why transparency and assurances from 3rd parties (such as the FDA good manufacturing processes certification) matter. Performance Lab provides a cGMP facility for all their products, as well as producing vegan-friendly, non-GMO, soy-free, gluten-free products.
Investing in a product that is pro-active about your goals and wellbeing is key to ensuring there are no nasty surprises. Only results.
BCAA Capsules vs Powders
BCAA supplements tend to come in two forms – either as powders or as ready-made capsules. These are entirely different, and we think that the powders are usually an inferior choice.
The taste of a BCAA powder is distinctly bitter and unpleasant. You don’t want to be adding this to your protein shake or intra-workout drink if you can avoid it.
Capsules are far easier to get into your body without the face-twisting flavors. Simply wash them down and you’ll get your entire BCAA concentration without having to struggle through a whole shaker of slightly-off tasting fluids.
Dosing and convenience
The design of a BCAA capsule exists to reduce the difficulty and complexity of using a powder.
The powdered form of BCAA has some virtues – it’s easier to exert total control over your intake – but this opens you up to some serious usage risks. The dosing is entirely dependent on you knowing how much you should take and measuring it out.
This is a serious inconvenience for a supplement that could be so simple and easy. Capsules may not allow you to measure out 1.35g of BCAA, specifically, but they provide a reliable amount every time without the hassle and time-cost of fiddling with powders and scales.
The portable nature of a capsule also makes life significantly easier for you. You won’t need to carry around a bag or Tupperware of powder.
You should already know why this is a serious risk. We’ve all experienced an explosion of some sort of workout and nutrition related powder. It’s an absolute nightmare to clean up and it feels inevitable no matter how careful you are.
A capsule that has a solid and reliable shape, as well as a reliable container, is exactly what you want to take to the gym. This makes it a convenient supplement without any additional steps or wasted product.
Which form of BCAA Supplement Should You Use?
For most people, the capsule is the clear choice. It offers a convenient and well-measured dose of BCAAs without any extra effort. You need to buy it, pop it in your mouth and wash it down with some liquids.
This means no bitter taste, no extra time, and you can take your supplements with you to wherever you’re exercising.
The quality and care of a BCAA supplement are what make the best BCAA capsule supplement – and our #1 is Performance Lab’s SPORT BCAA.
We think this product embodies a lot of the supplement standards we preach – from being diligent with your brands to getting the most natural possible forms and making the most of each gram you take.
Providing the best possible compounds for your body is the #1 way to get the best results and ensure your wellbeing and performance into the future. This is true when it comes to BCAAs and ensuring that you get the best BCAA capsules means the best experience and the best results!