Amino acids are super versatile. You can fit them into your supplementation routine before, during, and after training, as well as throughout the day.
Since branched-chain amino acids can be converted into energy, taking a serving before your workout can ensure you hit your lifts with a full tank. And unlike whey, they barely have any extra calories. Pre-workout BCAA supplementation is especially helpful if you exercise in a fasted state.
Intra-workout BCAA supplementation (during your workout) gives you a source of energy so you can stay strong through your whole workout. It's great for longer sessions, and will keep you hydrated.
Take branched-chain amino acids post-workout to start repairing muscle damage from training right away. It could help you avoid too much delayed-onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. You'll also enter an anabolic (muscle-building) state sooner. This is when the muscle tissues require amino acids the most. Feed those hungry muscles when they want it!
Throughout the Day
By sipping a couple servings during the day, you'll help guard against muscle loss and set the stage for optimum muscle protein synthesis. They're also great products for helping stay hydrated on non-training days. You'll find you chug way more water all day long when it's spiked with something sweet. This side effect of BCAA supplementation is a powerful weapon when you have an aggressive weight loss goal.
The most common form of BCAA supplementation these days is as a powdered drink mix that shakes up with water. Usually they're sweetened with calorie-free sweeteners like sucralose or stevia. You can also add a serving of unflavored BCAA powder to water or take it as a capsule if you don't want the sweet taste.
Try a few different formulas and flavors to find the one that works best for you. Play with the serving sizes, too: Some people need more, some need less. It's also good to alternate the powders you use so you don't get burned out on having too many servings of the same flavor.
For effective BCAA supplementation, there needs to be enough leucine, isoleucine, and valine. A good powder will typically have between 5 grams and 7 grams of BCAAs per serving. For max protein synthesis, it should have leucine, isoleucine, and valine in either a 2:1:1 or 3:1:1 ratio, with more leucine than the other two.
Also stack with BCAA-enriched whey and pre-workout powders that have isoleucine, leucine, and valine as well as other ingredients like beta-alanine and antioxidants. They'll help you max out your BCAA intake, although for the most immediate protein synthesis benefit, take a serving of free-form branched-chain amino acids pre-, intra-, and post-workout.
Use: Replenish amino acids to build and maintain muscles, avoid fatigue
Timing: Pre-workout, intra-workout, post-workout, throughout the day
How Much to Take: 5-7 grams
Supplement: Whey Protein
Use: Increase protein synthesis for muscle building and repair
Timing: Pre-workout, post-workout, throughout the day
How Much to Take: 20-30 grams
Use: Assist muscle growth and pump, delay fatigue
Timing: Once daily
How Much to Take: 3-5 grams
Use: Get extra energy and focus for hard efforts
How Much to Take: Depends on formula
Supplement: Weight Gainer
Use: Provide protein, fat, and carbs to build and retain mass
Timing: Post-workout, throughout the day
How Much to Take: Depends on formula
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