Should Your Pre-Workout Have BCAAs?
Ahhh, the long-standing debate. Should your pre-workout have BCAAs?
Everyone loves a good pre-workout. Gets you energized and motivated to tear it up at the gym, doesn’t it? Gets you hyping yourself up and your pets hiding themselves as you tear through the house screaming “LEG DAYYYYY!”
Woah, you don’t seriously terrify the pets, right? Good. Just checking *avoids eye contact*
In all seriousness….Your pre-workout gets you PUMPED right? Gets you hash tagging #itchyface on social media? You’re all about the motivation you get from it, right?
But what’s in it? Is your pre-workout as loyal to you as you are to it? What we mean is, does your pre-workout have BCAAs?
Should My Pre-Workout Have BCAAs?
If your pre-workout doesn’t have Branched-chain Amino Acids (BCAAs), your itchy face is just a farce—You’re missing out on results.
If all you want is a burst of energy, have a cup of coffee, if you want results, you need BCAAs. Why? Because of what good pre-workout supplements create: A golden opportunity.
An effective pre-workout isn’t one that makes you feel ‘insane’ or ‘jittery’. Those side effects are just smoke and mirrors to make you ‘feel’ like you’re getting something out of it.
With a little knowledge, you can validate whether you’re being fooled or fueled by your pre-workout. Ready? Let’s find out.
Pre-Workout Pump is the Primer for PUMPING BCAAs into Your Muscles
A good pre-workout should contain a combination of citrulline and arginine for the pump we all seek in our pre-workout drink.
Citrulline is converted into arginine in the body. Arginine is then converted into nitric oxide (NO). NO is well-known as a pump inducer. Nitric oxide opens up blood vessels and increases blood flow to muscles. Blood carries nutrients. Wider vessels and more blood = better nutrient delivery.
Arginine, taken directly, also converts into NO opening up blood vessels for the pumping of nutrients into muscles. However, when you take citrulline it bypasses the liver and arginine conversion occurs outside of the gastrointestinal tract. So, taking it directly can raise arginine blood levels as arginine is created at different hubs of the body, resulting in different levels of absorption and effectiveness. Thus, it is important not to skip citrulline.
These amino acids pump up your muscles because they expand blood vessels, cells and tissues. When your muscles are expanded and blood is flowing more freely, BCAAs are fed into your muscles to work their magic.
So pump is not just about the ‘look’ of vasodilation, is precisely what is happening. BCCAs are being pumped into your muscles to repair, replenish and build them.
So if you’re pumped up, but don’t have BCAAs, then what are you missing out on?
Let’s have a look see.
Scientific Benefits of BCAAs in a Pre-workout
If your pre-workout doesn’t have anything to feed your muscles, you’re just being pumped up by citrulline and arginine temporarily without taking advantage of the prime state your body is in to deliver muscle-building BCAAs into your muscles.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are the three essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine.
The body cannot manufacture these three amigos, so we have to get them through food sources or supplements. However, when taken as supplements—or pure, they bypass the liver and stomach and are fed directly into the bloodstream where they are carried to their workstations.
- Leucine builds muscle through the triggering of protein synthesis.
- Isoleucine burns fat, triggers glucose metabolism and boosts glucose uptake in the muscles.
- Valine promotes glycogen synthesis.
Quick science lesson
- Protein synthesis is the repair and replacement of proteins with new proteins to help build muscle. When your body is in the state of ‘pump’ during exercise, leucine stimulates protein synthesis to repair and rebuild while you’re working out.
- Glucose metabolism is the process of sugars from foods being used by the body to produce energy. While fat and protein can be used, certain parts of the body like the brain, only uses glucose for energy. Glucose is stored in muscles and liver as glycogen until its needed. Isoleucine triggers the metabolism of glucose during your workout so you can burn off stored glucose.
- Glycogen synthesis is where glucose molecules are added to chains of glycogen for storage. It can be triggered by a high-carb meal, insulin or valine.
Increasing protein synthesis gives your body more building blocks to build more protein. Proteins build and repair muscles and tissues. Muscles burn more calories than fat. More muscles=better results.
Through glucose metabolism and glycogen synthesis, isoleucine and valine stimulate insulin production, which assists in regulating your blood sugar level.
Therefore, with BCAAs we are triggering the repair and rebuilding of muscles and the burning of fat —all while triggering the use of stored glucose for energy and the storing of glycogen for future energy use.
With the above benefits of the BCAAs you can see how important they are for perpetuating results. Can you also see how much more you can get out of them if you take them before working out?
Taking BCAAs Before Your Workout is Crucial to Improved Results
So what if you take BCAAs after you work out? Well, you’ll miss the window of opportunity to boost results. Research shows pre-workout supplements with BCAAs enhance muscular endurance, strength and power. As a result of the enhanced exercise, subjects in studies also showed an increase in both HGH and insulin concentrations, indicating an augmented anabolic hormone response.
Not only that, but a study conducted showed taking BCAAs before and after exercising and found the BCAA benefits are greater when taken 10 minutes BEFORE exercising, and two studies proved BCAAs improve recovery time, reduce muscle damage, promote protein synthesis and diminish soreness when taken before exercising.
So– if you’re enhancing strength, power and endurance while you’re also feeding BCAAs into your pumped up muscles and tissues, the question changes from “Should I have BCAAs in my pre-workout?” to “Why wouldn’t a pre-workout have BCAAs?”
The science is there, the proof is there, if your pre-workout doesn’t have BCAAs, you may forever post #itchyface on social media without posting better #results.
If you want to know what other ingredients your pre-workout should have to maximize gains, we did the research for you here. Because that’s what friends do, we share knowledge.