Each week at Fuse Fitness Coaching, we highlight one or more supplements that we think will be of benefit to you. Now if there are any supplements I have heard both our clients and trainers rave about more than the others, it’s Spark and Catalyst. Spark tastes delicious and Catalyst is darn near a miracle worker when it comes to remedying soreness after a tough workout. So why these supplements? What’s special about them? They both have Branched Chain Amino Acids! BCAAs are one of the most widely researched supplements, thus there is A LOT of data on their effectiveness!
BCAAs have so many important uses; gaining muscle mass, maintaining and preserving muscle mass, and muscle recovery and repair. BCAAs are especially helpful in maintaining lean mass when you cut calories. When you cut calories, your body’s inclination is to hang on to fat, and thus start cutting muscle. Consuming BCAAs can help prevent this.
Now I’m about to get a bit technical with you. Your muscle mass depends on your body’s rate of protein synthesis minus your body’s rate of protein breakdown.
Rate of protein synthesis = rate of protein breakdown --> No change in muscle mass
Rate of protein synthesis > rate of protein breakdown --> GAINZ!!
Rate of protein synthesis < rate of protein breakdown --> Loss in muscle mass…NO BUENO!
When you majorly cut calories, the last of those equations is likely to occur. As I mentioned, BCAAs might help save you from this. BCAAs can help increase the rate of protein synthesis, and research also shows that they can help increase your cells’ capability to carry out the protein synthesis process. But wait…there’s more! BCAAs can also slow the rate of protein breakdown. So the combination of increasing the rate of protein synthesis and decreasing the rate of protein breakdown almost perfectly references the second equation above: GAINZ!!!
So why can’t I just get my BCAAs in my protein shake instead of by themselves? Because a BCAA supplement requires little to no digestion and is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, far more so than that protein shake would be! While protein shakes are more readily absorbed than consuming a hunk of meat post-workout, the time it takes to separate and process all the amino acids within those proteins would take too long and simply isn’t efficient. BCAAs are quickly absorbed into your bloodstream, helping your muscles and giving you a better workout.
I feel inclined to mention that BCAAs have other awesome benefits and share a few bullet points (as if making gainz and being less sore isn’t awesome enough).
Studies have shown BCAAs can improve glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity, in the average healthy individual.
BCAAs can prevent the uptake of tryptophan (which makes you tired), thus leaving you feeling less fatigued!
In studies with rodents, BCAAs were correlated with an extended lifespan along with better cardiac health.
In yet another study, subjects that consumed BCAAs during high intensity training had a healthier hormone balance of testosterone to cortisol, and also had less inflammation than the group taking a placebo.
In surveys, individuals with a higher BCAA intake tend to have less body fat and are at a lesser risk of becoming overweight.
BCAAs can make a significant difference in your muscle recovery, thus making a difference in how often and effectively you can train. If you want to speed your recovery and take your training to the next level, talk to one of the coaches here at Fuse Fitness Coaching about adding Spark and/or Catalyst to your supplement regimen. Psst! We often have Spark samples available to throw in your water bottle :)