The Crossfitter’s Guide to Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

Everything you need to know about BCAAs, what they do, how they help and why they should be a part of your nutrition.

WHAT ARE BCAAS?

Amino acids are the basic building blocks of proteins. The term “branched chain” refers to their molecular structure. 

Protein is comprised from 20 amino acids, from which there are 9 essential amino acids and 11 non-essential amino acids.

They are formed from:

  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine
  • Valine

These amino acids are essential because they cannot be synthesised by the body, therefore they must come from dietary sources. Of the three, Leucine has the greatest effect on protein synthesis and muscle growth.

THE BENEFITS OF BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS

As you already know, high intensity exercise such as CrossFit™, strength training, bodybuilding or powerlifting will damage and stress your muscular systems, causing them to react, recover and grow stronger in order to adapt to the new stimuli. This muscle damage and subsequent repair leads to hypertrophy, improved strength and an increase in muscle mass.

Get your energy with the new #sparklingaminos from @foodspring!

A post shared by Adrian Mundwiler (@adrianmundwiler) on

Branched chain amino acids improve recovery times and minimise muscle breakdown. They also help repair damaged muscles, which in turn decreases the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This allows you to avoid days and days with aching legs after heavy squats, a sore chest after big sessions on the bench, or general muscular fatigue after tough metcons for example.

This also means that you can get back to performing at 100% again much sooner than you otherwise would. In turn this means you can operate at a higher level and you don’t have to trudge through workouts and training sessions at anything less than your best.

BCCAs can also help with nitrogen retention. The optimal state for muscle growth is for your nitrogen intake to be greater than nitrogen output. This nitrogen balance is essential for effective recovery.

Standing and Drinking
CrossFit Games™ athlete Adrian Mundwiler pre-workout

The idea also exists that BCAAs help to improve concentration and focus. By themselves, this is spurious, and it is one reason why the foodspring sparkling amino drink is such a good alternative to traditional BCCA supplements.

FOODSPRING SPARKLING AMINOS

Foodspring sparkling aminos are made in Germany and are a pre-mixed BCAA drink made entirely from plant based products. With its zesty grapefruit flavour and caffeine from guarana, it will also help you to concentrate and maintain full focus during every workout.

  • 9g BCAAs in every can
  • The taste of real grapefruit
  • No added sugar, natural sweetness from fruit
  • Natural caffeine from the guarana plant
Sparkling Aminos
Get your sparkling Aminos

WHY ARE BCAAS IMPORTANT AND WHEN SHOULD YOU TAKE THEM?

BCAAs can be consumed both pre and post workout. With the foodspring sparkling amino drink, because of the extra natural caffeine from the guarana, it will help you keep that edge and focus throughout your full workout.

Branch chain amino acids can be effective to use during a fat loss or severe calorie deficit diet. For example, during a cutting phase for bodybuilders, or when you are looking to lean out in order to make gymnastic exercises easier for Crossfitters. Consume the BCAAs either pre or intra workout in order to avoid muscle catabolism (the breakdown of muscle) during workouts within these periods.

They are also great if you are training whilst fasting or at high intensities, which is almost a dead certainty if you are a Crossfitter or an athlete that incorporates strength training and HIIT work into your programming.

INCORPORATING BCCAS INTO YOUR NUTRITION

Branched chain amino acids in supplement form should not be used to replace natural protein sources. Rather see them as an effective way to improve and refine your nutrition in order to maximise your performance, recovery and health. If you are a person that enjoys the pursuit of personal excellence and pushing hard to achieve your own potential then you understand that the small details matter.

Small positive changes over time will add up to create big differences in the long run. Being able to minimise muscle soreness and recovery times is one such difference.

Foodspring sparkling aminos are made entirely from natural plant based products. Each can is also suitable for vegans, so you can ensure that your nutrition continues to come from healthy and natural sources.

Sitting on Fridge
Prepping for success! 

THE ROLE OF BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS IN GENERAL RECOVERY PRACTICES

In the same vein as the point above, BCAAs should not be used as a replacement for tried and tested recovery practices, rather they should be used to accentuate and build upon what you already do.

Combine foodspring sparkling aminos with the following practices for a holistic and effective recovery process.

Contrast Showers and Ice Baths

Hot / cold showers help to flush lactate from your muscles. Exercise produces lactate as a by-product and it can have considerably negative effects on your sporting performances. It also impacts the contractile function of the muscle tissue but these methods, alongside open water swimming is a great way to counter these negative effects.

Massage and Foam Rolling

Self-myofascial release is a term for self-massage to release muscle tightness or trigger points. This method can be performed with a foam roller, lacrosse ball or with your own hands. By pressing and massaging specific points on your body you are able to aid the recovery of muscles and assist in recurring them to normal function. This means that your muscles are fully recovered, pain free, elastic, healthy, and ready to perform.

Sleep

The importance of good quality sleep is no secret. Make sure that you wind down and switch off electronic devices a few hours before you go to bed to help your body and mind wind down. If this is an impossibility, try using blue light glasses for the last few hours before bed.

Active Recovery

This incorporates longer distance running, swimming, hill walking, playing football etc. Active recovery is as much about getting out of the Box or Gym and giving your mind some breathing space as it is to get the blood flowing without just smashing another intense metcon. Try to get outside if you can, enjoy it and have fun.

Improve your recovery now

SPECIAL OFFERS FOR BOXES

There are special offers for Box owners and wholesalers, so get in touch and get your Box kitted out.

contact: katharina.feldmann@foodspring.com


Standing and Drinking © foodspring

Sparkling Aminos © foodspring

Sitting on Fridge © foodspring

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About The Author

Editor-In-Chief at BOXROX. I come from a background of rugby and weightlifting. Growing up in the English Lake District, I spent a great deal of time swimming in its stunning lakes and rivers. In 2015 my brothers and I became the first people to swim the 145km length of the River Eden, from source to mouth, in 9 days. We also swam the Corryvreckan whirlpool, the third largest in the world, and Crossfit is a huge part of my training for these events.

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