Your new BEST FRIEND: BCAA’s
By: Alyssa Gingras
Master of Clinical Exercise Physiology
New clients always ask me what supplements they should begin taking. There are so many different options, products, brands…and everyone has different goals. No matter what your goal is….gaining muscle, losing weight….I always tell my clients to get on a BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acid). ***Always check with your doctor first!
WHAT ARE BCAA’s??
Branch Chain Amino Acids are a group of 3 essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Your body needs both non-essential and essential amino acids. Non-essential amino acids can be manufactured by the body with proper nutrition and essential amino acids cannot be made by the body, but must be obtained through diet or supplementation. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are commonly referred to as the “building blocks of life”.
BCAA’s aid the body in MANY different ways. BCAA supplementation is useful for gaining muscle mass, maintaining muscle mass while on a calorie deficit diet, and increasing performance. During intense weight training sessions, the body is in a catabolic state because glycogen stores have been depleted (glycogen stores=carbohydrate (energy) stores in the muscle). Taking BCAA’s after a workout with a post workout shake (whey protein and high glycemic carbohydrate) will help speed up the replacement of BCAA’s in the muscles. This speeds up muscle recovery and prevents overtraining. When you diet (calories in < calories out), you put your body in a catabolic state which can lead to muscle breakdown. The leaner your body gets, the more likely it is to lose muscle mass as the body tries harder and harder to hold onto fat stores. Muscle loss can occur because the body increases protein breakdown, releasing free muscle amino acids to be used as energy. By supplementing with BCAA’s, you can reduce the release of free muscle amino acids….reducing protein breakdown. Also, taking BCAA’s immediately before or during a workout or cardio session will increase performance.
- Enhance muscle protein synthesis for greater muscle hypertrophy (growth)
- Maintenance of lean muscle mass during non-training periods
- Increase fat burning and glucose tolerance for leaner body compositions
- Improve hormone balance for greater strength, power and endurance by increasing testosterone and decreasing cortisol
- Reduce inflammation
- Enhance strength endurance and decrease fatigue because BCAAs can be burned as energy to replenish ATP levels (#1 energy molecule in the human body)
- Delay fatigue and tiredness by inhibiting Tryptophan receptors in brain
- Decrease muscle soreness and allows you to train more frequently by preserving the integrity of muscle fibers.
- Protect lean muscle tissue and reduce catabolism of muscle
- MANY other health benefits
*** The BCAA’s used by myself and Rich Gingras are in the link below.
What does “metabolism” actually mean???
Bachelor of Exercise Science
Master of Clinical Exercise Physiology
Everyone is always talking about their metabolism….”my metabolism has slowed down since I hit 30” or “he can eat whatever he wants, he has a high metabolism”. What does this REALLY mean?
Your metabolism is also known as your Basal Metabolic Rate (or BMR for short). This is defined as the energy needed to maintain the body’s basic physiological functions and the chemical processes that occur within a person in order to maintain life. If you laid in bed all day and night, didn’t move, didn’t eat or drink anything…. the amount of energy that your body needs to function is your BMR.
Where do you get this energy? From the food you eat!!!! “Energy” in this sense is also known as calories. All food produces different amounts of “energy” or calories based on the percentage of macronutrients it contains. For example, both protein and carbohydrates have 4 calories per gram while fat has 9 calories per gram. The more fat that a food has, the more calories per gram it contains.
What factors affect how much energy MY metabolism requires?
- Muscle mass- the more muscle you have….the higher your metabolic rate. LIFT THOSE WEIGHTS GIRLS!!!
- Age- as you age, you tend to lose muscle mass and replace it with fat. You also tend to move less
- Weight- the bigger you are, the more calories you need.
- Side note: Extremely dangerous when you are on very low calorie diets. Your bode NEEDS a certain amount of calories just to sustain life. Ex. If you are 200 lb person, exercising, trying to lose weight, and on a 1200 calorie diet….it is DANGEROUS!
- Your sex- usually men of the same age and weight have less body fat and more muscle mass…thus burns more calories at rest.
- These 4 factors account for 70% of calories burned in a typical day
- Two other factors that account for how many calories that your burn in a day
- Thermogenesis- food processing (digesting, absorbing, transporting, and storing the foods you consume)
- Physical Activity- Most variable of all the factors that determine how many calories you burn in a day
- Other factors that could cause an imbalance of the energy equation
- Genetic makeup- Apple vs. Pear
- Hormones (ex. Leptin)
- Diet composition- Finding the % macros that works best for your body is KEY. It may take time, but every person is unique. (ex. Some people are extremely carb sensitive)
- Environmental factors (sleep, stress, and physical activity)
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO CALORIES CONSUMED VS. CALORIES BURNED. YOU NEED TO CREATE A DEFICIT AND YOU WILL LOSE WEIGHT!!!!
CALORIES IN < CALORIES OUT
Here at Fight2Fitness, we utilize metabolic training in almost all our classes. We find through our experience that it changes the body faster than any other method of training. We have many people that come in here and want to lose fat and gain muscle at the same time….which is nearly impossible. Metabolic training can give you the best of both worlds!
So what is Metabolic training? It is completing compound (several joints and muscles are engaged ex. Bent over BB row), structural (compound movement that also engages spinal column ex. Squat) or hybrid (a combination of several movements in a single repetition ex. Squat press) exercises with little rest between these exercises. There are many benefits of training this way. It improves your cardiovascular capacity as well as your VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen someone can utilize during intense, or maximal exercise). It can improve your hormonal profile by increasing hormones that promote lipolysis (basically fat loss). It is also an intense calorie burn. Not only does it scorch calories during the workout, it also increases your metabolic rate for anywhere up to 48 hours post exercise (also known as EPOC).
Basically, if you are looking to maximize calorie burn and metabolic rate during and after a workout…metabolic training is what you’re looking for.
Doing these types of exercises improve the capacity of certain energy systems in the body (also knowns as your METABOLISM or METABOLIC RATE). Metabolism is basically how we break down food for energy. The food we eat needs to be broken down so it can be used as energy in the body. This is done through 3 major pathways:
1. ATP-CP pathway is for exercises that need lots of energy for a short amount of time (less than 10 seconds). Ex. Olympic lifting and sprints.
2. Glycolytic pathway is for exercises that are shorter in duration (between 1-4 minutes). Ex. Weightlifting and mid-distance running intervals
3. Aerobic pathway is for exercises that can go on for hours (light to moderate exercise) Ex. Jogging/walking.
At Fight2Fitness you never use only one type of exercise…they overlap! This is how you improve the capacity of each energy system.
Example of a metabolic training workout:
- 4 sets of 1 minute each (no break between exercises, break 1 minute at the end of each circuit)
- DB squat press
- DB step up with curl at the top
- DB lunge-curl-press
- Squat jumps (just get toes off the ground)
- Squat thrust (think bottom half of a burpee)
Bachelors of Exercise Science
Masters of Clinical Exercise Physiology
Owner at Fight2Fitness