Best BCAA for Women: BCAA Supplement Guide
BCAAs are becoming increasingly popular in the fitness industry. They used to be a supplement that only bodybuilders used but now many more people are seeing the benefits of BCAAs – especially women.
That’s why we think it’s time to do a rundown of how BCAAs can help women, and recommend some of the best BCAAs for women on the market.
What are BCAAs and what do they do for Women:
First things first, BCAAs are “Branched Chain Amino Acids”. Well, what does that mean?
In short, they are part of what makes up protein. So since protein is crucial for building muscle, you can understand why they’re important for fitness enthusiasts.
The longer answer is that protein is made up of more than 20 different amino acids. BCAAs are just a few of the amino acids. Specifically, they’re leucine, iso-leucine, and valine. They are the most important amino acids for muscle growth. They are metabolized in your muscles, not in your liver.
There are two ways that BCAAs help people with their fitness goals: they help your performance during your workout and they help you recover when you’re not working out. (Though some studies indicate that the evidence is stronger in relation helping your muscles recover compared to actually helping you perform better at the gym).
When you’re working out, your body needs BCAAs to perform. Your body converts them into energy during intense exercise. If you don’t have sufficient amounts in your system, the body can get it by breaking down your muscles: this is bad news!
That’s why it’s important to have enough of it in your system when you’re working out. Hence the reason for supplementing them with some of the products discussed below.
Unfortunately, your body doesn’t make them naturally – you need to get them through food or supplements (this is what makes them an “essential” amino acid). They are commonly found in foods containing high amounts of protein – like salmon, chicken, etc.
There are also a number of other important benefits like their effect on brain function, blood sugar levels, etc.
Should Women Take BCAAs:
The biggest fear for most women taking supplements is that they’ll make you look bulky and too muscular. You don’t have to worry about that in this case. BCAA supplements aren’t testosterone and they don’t lead to automatic bulking up.
Whether women should take them always depends on the rest of your diet. If you’re getting a lot of protein already, then you probably don’t need them. If you take a lot of protein shakes, you may also not need them.
But for people that are focused on building or retaining their muscle, BCAAs are very important. This applies to both men and women.
They’re great for people that may not get enough protein or for people that have been working out and not noticing any changes to their muscles. They’re not for everyone, but can definitely benefit a lot of women.
It’s the kind of thing that you should try out for a month and see if you notice any improvements. Is there less soreness after a workout? Are you finding that you can get back into the gym sooner than before? Are you noticing any gains in performance? These are the kinds of things that you should look for when determining whether they’re helpful for you.
The Best BCAAs for Women on the Market:
You’ve got a few types of products that are on the market. The main difference is that there are powder BCAAs and capsule BCAAs. I prefer the powder.
As mentioned above, some supplement companies are now making BCAA products geared directly at women. Additionally, you’ve got lots of great products that are made for both men and women.
We’ve covered both types below, so it’s hard to say which is the best bcaa supplement for women, but these two are both highly recommended:
1. Optimum Nutrition BCAA:
- Not aimed directly at women, but is for both men and women
- Made by one of the most trusted names in fitness supplements: Optimum Nutrition
- Costs about $25 for 40 servings
- Comes in 3 flavours: Orange, Fruit punch and unflavoured. The unflavoured is usually better for you because it has less sweeteners, but it tastes pretty bland
- Click here for more info
2. NLA For Her – Her Aminos:
- One of the newer products on the market that is aimed directly at women
- These are meant to be taken regularly, not just before or after your workout. It is intended to just increase your overall amino acid levels
- The company describes it as a “lean muscle promoter”
- Comes in pink lemonade and watermelon flavours
- Currently about $33 for a tub – a reasonable price for a BCAA for women
- Click here for more info
- A great product that is excellent at assisting your body process proteins.
- If you’re new to BCAA products, you will feel a quicker recovery time and less soreness.
- The flavour is actually good (unlike a lot of supplement products). It’s not too sweet and isn’t packed with artificial sweeteners.
- Click here for more info
What are the Key Benefits of BCAA Supplements?
Overall, BCAAs have a number of overlapping mechanisms that help improve your health and fitness. Here are our favourite benefits of BCAAs for women.
1. BCAAs Lead to Fat Loss:
Studies show that higher BCAA intake is associated with a lower prevalence of being overweight or obese. Essentially, higher intake of branched chain amino acids correlates with people that are not overweight. Other studies show that BCCA supplementation lead to direct fat loss.
Overall, the evidence seems very clear that BCAAs are a huge weapon in the battle to lose fat.
2. BCAAs Help Control Hunger:
BCAA supplementation helps control hunger and cravings. Essentially, taking BCAAs operate to counteract appetite stimulation related to exercise. They also have hunger suppressing effects in the hypothalamus.
3. BCAAs Decreases Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness:
When you take BCAAs, you will not feel as sore the next day and will recover more quickly. This allows you to work out again sooner and push yourself to reach a higher level of performance. This is crucial if you want to reach your potential.
Now, to be clear, we’re not saying they will get rid of muscle soreness. We’re saying that it will reduce soreness. So don’t be surprised if you still feel sore the next day.
4. BCAAs prevent muscle loss during Long Term Exercise:
Long term exercise (eg. long distance running) can lead to muscle protein degradation. One of the best ways to prevent this is by supplementing with BCAAs. So if you’re into doing a lot of extensive cardio exercise, then BCAAs can help protect your muscles.
5. BCAAs stimulate Muscle Growth:
It is commonly thought that supplements only work to help you get more out of your workouts. But one study suggests that BCAAs can actually stimulate muscle growth on their own. It was shown that combining BCAA supplementation with resistance training lead to greater muscle growth than with either one alone (obviously).
How Women Should Use BCAAs:
Again, this always depends on your goals. But there is a lot of advice out there about when to take your BCAA supplement.
I recommend people take it 30 mins before and 30 mins after a workout. That makes sure it’s available during the workout to help preserve your muscles and after your workout when your muscles need it for recovery.
But if you’re also taking whey protein after your workout, you can skip the post workout BCAAs. You don’t want to overload it.
If you’re about average size, you should take about 3-5 grams for each serving. But if you’re smaller, take a bit less and vice versa.
Other people recommend just sort of sipping on a BCAA supplement throughout the day, but I haven’t tried that and I tend to like to keep everything regimented with respect to when I take them (you’ll see that this is how NLA for Her’s amino product is meant to be taken).
So that about wraps it up for our guide to women and BCAAs – do you have any thoughts? Have you had any experiences with BCAAs as a women? Please feel free to leave a comment below!