The Fun World of BCAAs

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In my quest to improve my health and feel better both physically and mentally, I recently decided to change my workout routine from CrossFit workouts to Orange Theory Fitness (Article on this wonderful workout soon.)  As you may already know from hearing about OTF from a member, or from your own experience as a member, Orange Theory consists of a ton of cardio AND weight training.  Every single class consists of using the treadmill, rower, and free weights/body weight.  The class is an hour long, and you are active the entire time!

For those of you who are just starting your fitness journey, I’m sure you can appreciate the amount of work this really is.  When I was in the beginning stages of my exploration into getting healthy, I was starting with 20-30 minute walks.  Eventually I worked up to doing 3 mile run/walks, with intermittent gym visits where I used weights.  Besides the fact that I was tired as hell after even these shorts walks, I was incredibly sore! I would wake up the next day, and wonder how I was going to get out of bed.  My muscles were crying!

Fast forward about 3 years to about 4 months ago.  I had just switched from Crossfit to Orange Theory, and was beating up my body in a fun yet tough way.  Don’t get me wrong, Crossfit is an amazing workout. However, for what I was trying to accomplish, I needed high amounts of cardio, everyday.  And that’s exactly what Orange Theory provided.  30 minutes of cardio, and 30 minutes of weight training alternating with rowing.

So what was going to keep me going after working out 6 days a week of high interval training and cardio? BCAA’s.

What are BCAA’s?

BCAA stands for branched-chain amino acid; particularly referring to Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine.  These three amino acids are Essential amino acids, which means they cannot be manufactured by the body. They get their name of branched-chain from their chemical structure, shown in the picture below.  The three I mentioned above, are the amino acids that will get you up and moving and help you get to where you want to be.  Let’s go over the specific benefits of supplementing your diet with Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine.

Top Benefits of BCAAs.

  1. Limiting soreness after a workout

So now that we know the basics about what BCAAs are, we need to understand why they are so important to our body and the benefits that they have. As someone who is working out almost every day, like I mentioned above, the number one issue that I always had after a workout and even waking up the next day is soreness.  However, I was able to get into the routine of sipping the first half of my BCAAs during the workout, and then finishing the second half right after.  After a few days, soreness after a workout basically went away.

That’s right! You did read that right! Once I started supplementing with BCAAs consistently after every single workout, I rarely had to deal with the next day soreness that usually came after a hard and intense work out. This is an amazing thing for someone like me who is really trying to step up their game and take their cardio and weightlifting to the next level. I plan on continuing to do this everyday as long as I am working out.

  1. Increased energy during the workout

This is my second favorite reason for sipping on BCAAs.  When I started using these, I noticed an increase in energy during my workout.  I was able to push more during the workout, and would notice less fatigue even after my workout.  This is because of the amino acids I was drinking, particularly Leucine.  It has been shown that when you drink your BCAAs, they go directly into the bloodstream, completely bypassing the liver.  Because it goes right into the blood, it’s a pretty much immediate source of energy as you are working out.  The increased energy source lets you push yourself during workouts.

 

  1. Flushing out toxins

When you drink BCAAs, you are also flushing out toxins.  The same breakdown of muscles that cause soreness, also causes a build up toxins that can hinder performance. Most BCAA combo powders are chalk full of electrolytes as well.  In addition to having my amino acids in the morning, I also have a serving in the afternoon.  I get to refresh my body and flush any toxins from my boody.  The electrolytes and amino acids help to give me a boost of energy in the afternoon, and get my system going again.

  1. Helps curb appetite

So like I just said I usually add a serving of BCAAs to my water in the afternoon.  The reason for this, in addition to giving me a boost of energy in the afternoon, is because my weakest time when I am most likely to snack is around the 3-4pm time.  So instead of reaching for food, I mix my drink, and sip on it for about an hour as I go about my day, either at work, or on the weekends.  By the time I’m done with the drink, the afternoon munchies crave is gone, and I’ve flooded my system with some great amino acids in the process.  Plus, besides the fact that I distract myself from the food and get through that trouble time period, studies show that Leucine is an amino acid that actually helps curb appetite.  Amazing!

A personal bonus for me…

In addition to switching what type of work out I do, I’ve also adjusted when I work out. When I first started Orange Theory, I was doing the 5:30 pm or 6:45 pm class.  However, with the start of summer, there was NO WAY I was going to leave work at 5, and then go right back inside and miss the sunshine and beach time!

Instead, I chose to switch to the 7:15 am class. Ew! Way too early I know, but it was the only way I would be able to get my workout in, get a full day’s work, and still have a social life and beach time. A necessary evil, I promise.

However, my biggest struggle (besides having to get up at 6:45… 😫) became having enough energy to get through a workout without having a full breakfast.  I was never a breakfast person to begin with.  Of all the meals was prone to skip, breakfast was definitely number one. But now, I got to sip my BCAAs without worrying about the risk of throwing up all over the treadmill like I would have to if I was eating breakfast.  Another thumbs up for amino acids!

My overall experience

I highly recommend taking BCAAs at least once a day, but the more the merrier.  If you are going to take them just once a day, then the best time would be during and then immediately after a workout.  For me, this has been the best time frame.  I have been using them for two months, and it really has allowed me to really push myself and become more successful on my weight loss journey.

Where to buy them

Personally, I buy my BCAAs from Amazon.  The Extend brand is fairly cheap, so I am able to pay not that much money for a 30 day supply. They offer a range of sizes and flavors (personally I LOVE watermelon), and come with a convenient subscribe offer that allows you to renew the order on time every month automatically, so you’ll never run out! Here’s a list of all 16 flavors and their prices.

 

 

My go to is the 30 serving of the watermelon, but as you can see, there are a ton to choose from.  You can also get the 90 day serving size to save a little money if you know you will be using BCAAs for that long.  Like I said, they are my favorite supplement so far, so go ahead and browse through the different products, any enjoy!

Another option is my second favorite place to check for deals. Groupon! Take a look at what they offer too so you can find the best price. 🙂

Well, I hope you enjoyed my review!  Any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.  🙂 Peace!

6 Comments:

  1. I am very much into eating a healthy, whole food based diet and exercising regularly but I’ve never really paid much attention to BCAA’s. Thanks for writing this article to get them on my radar. Are there benefits of taking the supplement vs. just eating lots of these types of fruits?

    • Jessica Gutierrez

      Hi Katie, thank you for the comment! Yes there is a great benefit to drinking the supplements instead of eating them.  When you eat foods that have these three BCAAs in them, it takes time for your body to process them and get them into your blood stream.  By drinking them, you bypass your body’s processing center and can get it much faster.  You can also control the amount of BCAAs in grams as well.  Each serving has the grams listed, which gives you a better idea of how many times to drink it. 

  2. great review of what BCAAs do and why to use them. I used to use them, did a lot of moving around and now I’m stable again, so thanks for reminding me I need to incorporate them into my daily life.
    I also loved the watermelon and used to drink it during my workouts. Your description of all the benefits is what i needed. I kinda forgot all those wonderful benefits.
    I’m a stickler for detail so I wanted to point out that these amino acids ar Essential not non-essential. Doesn’t sound right, but the body can’t produce Essential Amino Acids.
    Thanks for the article. I’m off to Amazon to be my watermelon BCAAs

    • Jessica Gutierrez

      The watermelon is definitely the best 🙂 Thank you for the comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the description, it really does help our bodies and minds in so many ways! The more the merrier. And thank you for the correction!

  3. This was marvelous and very inspiring. I’ll be sure to bookmark and share.

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