BCAA for Women: an Essential Supplement or Best Avoided?
As soon as you enter the world of sports, you are surrounded by tons of information; starting from what to drink and ending with the most effective exercises. But one of the top discussions is the use of BCAA for women, and whether or not it is an effective aid or a problematic supplement?
In this article, we’ll explore more about BCAA and if consuming it in supplement form is really worth it.
Role of BCAA in the body
To understand how BCAA works, we’ve to go back to our schooldays and those tough chemistry and biology lessons. Let’s start with amino acids.
Amino acids are the complex organic compounds that form proteins, a construction material for our muscles. In total, there are 22 that participate in protein generation in our body.
Why is this important? BCAA stands for Branched Chain Amino Acids, it consists of only 3 amino acids––Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine.
Together these are aimed at muscle building in our body. These elements can be found naturally in high-protein foods or artificially-created in sports supplements, also known as BCAA.
Here’s how the three components of BCAA help our muscles in different ways:
Growth and fuel
Leucine triggers the synthesis of protein and prevents its breakdown, resulting in muscle gain. It also stimulates insulin production encouraging the body’s cells to absorb and process glucose, fueling muscles and minimizing fat.
Regeneration and resilience
Isoleucine enhances our blood’s quality by producing hemoglobin and regulating glucose and cholesterol levels, normalizing blood pressure. It helps prevent muscle degradation, develops, heals and increases their resilience after intensive exercises.
Regeneration, growth and good spirits
Valine is responsible for the growth and regeneration of muscle tissues. It maintains nitrogen balance and prevents the lowering of serotonin levels, improving your mood and ensuring you are a little bit happier. Valine can also make your body more resistant to pain and adaptive to hot and cold.
While these three amino acids have a positive effect on your body, the only issue is that they aren’t produced by our bodies; we have to extract these valuable elements from food.
Can women take BCAA?
Isn’t it obvious, already? Women not only can but need to take BCAA in some form or another.
Here are the two main ways, you can obtain the necessary elements: naturally from food or from artificially manufactured supplements, in the form of pills, capsules and powder.
Each form has its own dosage and it’s better to consult your physician rather than trying to discover how much you need on on your own, especially if you have a health condition.
Too much artificial BCAA may lead to some unpleasant side effects, so be careful. These include:
- Loss of coordination;
- Upset stomach;
- High blood pressure.
Not pleasant at all. However, if you’re looking to get these acids through food, then you don’t have to worry as much as quantity won’t go off the scale, making it safer but more of a challenge to receive just the right amount. To get your daily dose of BCAA, try the following high-BCAA foods:
- Various types of meat;
- Various types of fish;
- Dairy products;
- Pulses: beans, lentils;
- Carbs: rice, wheat, corn;
Nutritionists recommend 42 mg of leucine, 19 mg of isoleucine and 24 mg of valine per 2.2 pounds of body weight as daily intake amount. Calculate based on your own weight and you’ll be more aware of the amount you need to intake each day.
If you play sports or engage in lots of intensive exercise activities, you may need to increase the amounts of BCAA you take in to give your body that a little extra but of support.
Top 3 advantages of BCAA supplements
Let’s learn more about how and why artificially made nutrients come in handy.
1. Prevent muscle destruction
In the recovery period after an intensive workout your body starts the process of muscle rebuilding: it breaks them down and at the same time encourages their growth. Unfortunately, the breakdown often surpasses the growth, and this is where BCAA come into their own. It minimizes muscle destruction and enhances their build-up, leaving your muscles healthier for it.
2. Increase lean muscle mass
Those who have experienced protein shortage or have participated in vigorous training may face muscle wastage. BCAA speeds up protein synthesis and nourishes your muscles which directly impacts their growth, leaving you stronger and healthier (just don’t overdo it).
3. BCAA is good for female weight loss
Losing weight is often a challenge and one of the reasons is the hormone, called Leptin, which determines the amount of fat in body. The more Leptin you have, the harder it gets to become thinner. BCAA stimulates women’s weight loss thanks to Leucine, which suppresses the sense of hunger and makes fat burn faster by speeding up the metabolic rate. All these can help you attain your ideal weight faster and easier.
All that said, if you really want to see results, you will have to consume BCAA in conjunction with an appropriate diet and exercise regime.
The final words on BCAA
The intake of amino acids in the form of supplements is a workable solution for professional athletes and non-sportspeople alike, however, if you decided to take pills for BCAA, you must remember to be careful of their dosage.
If you opt for the supplement route, it’s also vital that you find the best BCAAs for women to avoid any damage to your health. Quality and quantity are everything when it comes to what you put in your body.
But, for those of you who are just taking their first steps in the world of sporting activities, why not consider skipping the supplement route (at least for now) and satisfy your amino acid needs by sticking to a proper dieting rich in protein?