Today, there’s a really wide range of available supplements on the market, making it hard to choose one that can help you with your fitness goals. That being said, there are a number of benefits of taking BCAAs if you’re a woman who wants to be successful both at building muscle and seeing better recovery from your workouts. So, we’re going to explore the benefits of BCAA supplements while also highlighting some of the best BCAAs for women.
What are BCAAs?
BCAA stands for branched-chain amino acids and they are made up of three proteinogenic amino acids. These amino acids are essential for muscle growth and include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They’re found in proteins that we eat and leucine is actually the one that promotes muscle growth via protein synthesis.
Here’s a YouTube video for more info:
It’s fairly easy to see exactly why leucine is considered to be the most important BCAA. During your workout sessions, it will actually signal muscle growth by activating something called “mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway”, which is responsible for increasing protein synthesis for signaling muscle growth. Isoleucine also gives you increased energy and endurance while also healing and repairing your muscle tissue following your workout.
On the other hand, Valine plays a major role in the regulation of your absorption of the other two amino acids. And, just like the other two, it can’t be synthesized by your own body but has to be obtained by consuming food or supplements that are high in protein. Some food examples include almonds, cottage cheese, goat cheese, lamb, salmon, sunflower seeds, and whole milk.
What are the Benefits of BCAAs?
Amino acids make up 35 percent of our body mass. The protein that we eat and/or drink contains 20 of them. Of those 20, 11 are non-essential amino acids while 9 are essential amino acids. The three BCAAs that are necessary for lean muscle building and development (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) fall into the essential category.
BCAAs help your workout and your overall health by giving you a much-needed energy boost and assisting you with adding muscle mass. When you’re working out working out, you’re rapidly decreasing the amino acids in your muscles, which is exactly why supplementing with BCAAs is so important. Although amino acids are present in whey protein, too, many women prefer supplementing their intake by using BCAAs.
Here are some of the most common BCAA benefits:
Increased Muscle Growth
In a recent study, individuals who consumed a 5.6-gram BCAA drink following a resistance workout showed a 22 percent greater muscle protein synthesis increase compared to others consuming a placebo drink.
Decreased Muscle Soreness
Extensive research suggests that BCAAs are capable of helping with decreasing muscle soreness following workouts. We all know how common feeling sore for one or two days following workouts. This is even more prevalent when a workout routine is fairly new. It’s actually called
“Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)”. It begins developing from 12 to 24 hours following a workout and sometimes lasts as long as 72 hours. The exact DOMS cause isn’t clearly understood, however, the fact is that the researchers’ belief is that it results from small tears in your muscles following exercise.
Decreased Muscle Damage
BCAAs are also thought to contribute to decreasing muscle damage. This could also help with the reduction of the severity and length of time suffering from DOMS. Other studies have shown BCAAs decreasing protein breakdown throughout exercising and decreasing creatine kinase levels, which are a muscle damage indicator. Therefore, it has been shown that BCAA supplementing, especially prior to exercise, may help in speeding up recovery time. [1.]
When Should You Take BCAAs?
The optimum time would be when you’re planning to put your body under some physical stress. For example, prior to going to the gym for an intense workout, like a weight training workout for developing lean muscle tissue. You could include BCAAs as part of breakfast or take your BCAAs by including sips during your cool-down session.
How much Should You Take?
The amount is determined by your body weight and size. For example, a woman with an average body size would be advised to consume one level of grams. On the other hand, if you’re a larger than average woman, then aiming for more grams would be effective. And, if you’re smaller than average, then taking less would be adequate. Every BCAA brand has different recommendations, so referring to the packaging is your best bet for acquiring accuracy in dosage instructions.
As a benchmark, you should figure out the sufficient daily protein amount for properly supplying your body. The majority of reputable sources say that between 1.3-1.8g per 1kg/2.2 lbs of body weight for athletes is the proper amount per day. If you divide 180 lbs by 2.2 lbss = 81 lbs, 81 lbs X 1.5 g of protein = 122 g of protein. Therefore, if your weight is 180 lbs, then your body would need approximately 122g of protein daily.
These are rough suggestions. Please consult the instructions of your chosen BCAA product for more.
Who Should Take BCAAs?
There are, of course, a number of reasons for taking BCAAs, including:
- If you’re trying to loss weight by dieting and starting to exercise,
- If you’re trying to build mass and develop muscle,
- If you’re having difficulty maintaining daily protein levels.
When you supply your body with an adequate amount of protein, BCAAs, and especially leucine, you’ll be preventing the loss of muscle tissue when you’re dieting. BCAAs could even be helpful in the process of getting rid of some fat and building muscle by providing the three essential amino acids for your body.
BCAAs From Food
In addition to taking BCAA supplements, you can also get BCAAs from some foods, including:
- Almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts
- Baked beans
- Beef, eggs, chicken, and fish
- Brown rice
- Lima beans
- Pumpkin seeds
- Soy, milk, and whey proteins
- Whole wheat
Precautions When Taking BCAAs
Possible Side Effects
As with any other supplement, there can be side effects. Possible side effects reported by some users include:
BCAAs may interact with some medicines. Discuss BCAA usage with your doctor if you take:
- Diabetes medications
- Parkinson’s medications
- Proglycem (diazoxide)
- Thyroid hormones
You should also discuss BCAAs with your doctor if you’re taking any supplements, even natural ones, so that he or she can check into any possible side effects or interactions with foods or medications. Your doctor can then advise you know if a supplement could increase your risk, especially since the FDA doesn’t regulate dietary supplements. [2.]
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Reviews of Five BCAA Supplements for Women
We know that they’re are a lot of BCAA products on the market today so knowing which one would be effective for you can be a daunting task. We’re hoping to make that easier for you with our five choices as well as our pick for the best overall.
NLA for Her
This product offers a comprehensive amino acid blend designed for building lean muscle, supporting increased endurance, and enhancing recovery. It also contains a comprehensive blend of Beta Alanine, Citrulline, Taurine, and Glutamine as well as the BCAAs Isoleucine, Leucine, and Valine for building and sustaining lean muscle growth and helping to boost muscular performance throughout training.
- Builds lean muscle
- Offers immediate absorption
- Enhances recovery
- Powder hard as a rock
- Bad taste
- Didn’t help recovery or energy level
FitMiss Women’s BCAA Powder
This is a post-workout recovery drink for muscle toning and muscle recovery. It’s engineered for workout enthusiast and hard-working athletes alike. BCAA 3:1:2 offers a ratio of 3 leucine, 1 isoleucine, 2 valine, speciﬁcally tuned for delivering an ideal amount of these three amino acids throughout all phases of muscle maintenance and development. The formula releases amino acids before and after workouts.
- Contains three grams of BCAAs
- Contains No Sugar or Calories
- Promotes recovery from intense workouts
- 100 percent money back guarantee for 30-days
- Too sweet according to some consumers
- Bad aftertaste
- Hard to drink
IdealLean BCAA For Women
This women’s Amino Acids are for maximizing fat burn, lean muscle growth, weight loss, and post workout recovery. It contains high-quality BCAAs in a ratio of 2:1:1. IdealLean BCAAs are designed for maximizing a woman’s weight loss while also jumpstarting lean muscle growth. Each serving provides 5 grams of BCAAs for reducing muscle soreness and promoting muscle building. Contains 50% EGCG Green Tea Extract plus Tonalin CLA, coconut powder, L-Glutamine, and L-Citrulline.
- Contains 0 Calories, 0 Sugars, 0 Carbs, 0 Fats, 0 Calories
- Contains unique IdealLean Fat-Loss Blend
- Offers improved hydration with Coconut Powder
- Too sweet for some consumers
- Too strong reported by others
- Caused headaches
This product is a slimming weight loss drink for Women and contains L-Glutamine Powder and BCAAs for both fat burning and post-workout recovery as well as for a daily appetite suppressant. It helps with losing weight and boosting your mood by combining premium fermented BCAAs plus glutamine with a clinically-proven combination of satiereal saffron and ksm-66 ashwagandha. Provides faster recovery and improved mood.
- More effective than standard weight loss shakes
- Suppresses hunger
- 100 percent caffeine-free
- Some consumers didn’t like the taste
- No boost in energy for others
- Hair loss reported by some users
PrettyFit BCAA Burn
This BCAA supplement for women contains 30 servings in a very tasty Berry Blast flavor. It promotes lean muscle building and also contains Glutamine as well as non-stimulant fat-burners. It provides only high-quality ingredients that have been well-researched for building the ideal body. The endurance and metabolism-boosting formula contains all-natural components, which include L-Carnitine, L-Taurine, and CLA.
- Zero Calories, Zero Sugars, and Zero Carbs
- Comes complete with a 100 percent money back guarantee
- Contains a non-stimulant formula for superior metabolism boosting
- Tastes like paint thinner according to some
- Has a bitter taste
- Contains sucralose
Choosing between the above five BCAA products for women was quite difficult since they’re all very good supplements in their own unique way. Each offers a high level of BCAAs for better workout results. Our choice for the best BCAA for women supplement was NLA for Her for a number of valid reasons. The first reason is the fact that NLA for Her offers a comprehensive amino acid blend. This particular blend was specifically designed for building lean muscle, supporting increased endurance, and enhancing recovery.
In addition, this product also offers a special blend of Beta Alanine, Citrulline, Taurine, and Glutamine as well as the BCAAs Isoleucine, Leucine, and Valine. This combination makes it the perfect choice for building and sustaining lean muscle growth and helping to boost muscular performance throughout training.