So if you’re a regular visitor to the gym, you’ve no doubt heard someone mention the words Creatine, Amino Acids or BCAA’s, so what exactly are these? Let’s take a simple look into some of the most used supplements on the market today.
There are a lot of questions asked about these supplements as like any others in today’s market you need to know what you’re putting into your body. Everyone’s body is different, we all react differently to what we ingest into our systems, it is important that you know what you can or can’t tolerate when it comes to taking gym supplements as side effects can cause illness.
Creatine is a substance that is found naturally in muscle cells. It helps your muscles produce energy during heavy lifting or high-intensity exercise. Taking creatine is very popular among athletes and bodybuilders in order to gain muscle, enhance strength and improve exercise performance.
About 95% of your body’s creatine is stored in muscles in the form of phosphocreatine. The other 5% is found in your brain, kidneys and liver. When you supplement, you increase your stores of phosphocreatine. This is a form of stored energy in the cells, as it helps your body produce more of a high-energy molecule called ATP. When you have more ATP, your body can perform better during exercise.
Creatine can improve health and athletic performance in several ways. In high-intensity exercise, its primary role is to increase the phosphocreatine stores in your muscles. The additional stores can then be used to produce more ATP, which is the key energy source for heavy lifting and high-intensity exercise.
Amino acids, often referred to as the building blocks of proteins, are compounds that play many critical roles in your body. They’re needed for vital processes like the building of proteins and synthesis of hormones and neurotransmitters.
Amino acids are organic compounds composed of nitrogen, carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, along with a variable side chain group. There are nine essential amino acids.
The three branched-chain essential amino acids are widely used to alleviate fatigue, improve athletic performance and stimulate muscle recovery after exercise. In a study in 16 resistance-trained athletes, branched-chain amino acid supplements improved performance and muscle recovery and decreased muscle soreness, compared to a placebo.
A recent review of eight studies found that supplementing with branched-chain amino acids was superior to rest in promoting muscle recovery and reducing soreness after exhaustive exercise.
Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein. There are 20 amino acids that make up the proteins found in our bodies and in the food we eat. Our body can only make 11 of these amino acids which are grouped as non-essential because we don’t need to do anything to get them. This means that somehow, we need to get the other nine essential amino acids through our diet.
The main benefit of BCAAs are their positive effects on your muscles. It has been suggested that BCAAs, especially leucine, can increase muscle protein synthesis (the process your body goes through when it builds muscle mass) when paired with resistance training. This means that supplementing with BCAAs will help to turn on the muscle-building engine and increase your gains after a tough session at the gym.
BCAAs have also been shown to reduce your perceived muscle soreness after resistance training. This means walking will be easier after that dreaded leg day. This will also benefit you further as if you are less sore in the days after an intense workout, you are more likely to make it to your next session, take the stairs instead of the lift or go for a jog when otherwise you might have skipped it due to the pain.