I used to be a firm believer that you get everything you need from a healthy and balanced diet. Supplements were something that pregnant ladies and Athletes took, as their bodies went through more than your average Joe. I’ve since discovered that, no matter how great our diet is, we simply cannot ingest enough food to give us the the level of nutrients our bodies need.
It seems there has been a huge decline in the nutritional levels of our food (in particular fruit and veg) over the last fifty years. This is thought to be because of how our food is now grown and harvested. Not grown in soil, chemical fertilisers used, storage and transport all play their part in the lost minerals and elements. I don’t know about you but as much as I love tomatoes, I don’t really want to have to eat ten of them to benefit from what I would have been getting out of just one, half a century ago.
Now lets throw into the mix a little calorie controlled dieting. My interest in nutrition grew as I started my own journey towards a lighter, healthier and more energised way of life. I used to feel virtuous for eating a salad! Now when I think about it, I’m eating even less (albeit clean, whole food). How on earth do I get what I need without supplementing my diet? The simple answer is, I don’t.
Anyway, I’m not going to harp on about amazing and necessary supplements today. (watch this space!) Learning more about nutrition is what lead to my understanding of the importance of BCAA‘s and how they can really help with weight loss.
Branch Chain Amino Acids. So what are they? What do they do? Why do we need them?
They are the building blocks of protein and are essential to our body. We cannot make them ourselves and therefore need to consume them. Without them we would die. There are three in particular that make up around a third of our muscle tissue.
Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine.
BCAAs can be found in meat and dairy produce and legumes. They can also be taken in supplement form. They are very much en vogue in the health and fitness industry already, particularly amongst athletes and body builders. What isn’t widely known is just how beneficial they are for those simply wanting to lose weight.
Have you ever found that dieting has left you feeling tired/lethargic? This is because when we consume less calories, our bodies enter a state of catabolism. This is the breaking down of tissue (fat and muscle). As the body increases protein breakdown, it frees these muscle BCAAs to use them as fuel and if they are not replaced, this leads to reduced energy levels.
Supplementing our diet with BCAAs means that we can retain lean muscle mass, whilst shedding the much loathed fat cells. It is important to hold onto that muscle as it keeps your body burning off fat and weight loss is therefore less likely to plateau.
Branch chain amino acids also support the immune system, are good for your intestines and gut and can also reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is catabolic, it breaks down muscle and elevated levels can even result in increased body fat.
When should I take BCAAs? Click here to buy BCAAs!
If you are controlling your diet and working out, then they can be taken before, during and/or after exercising. Taken before, they can help prevent fatigue and improve concentration and a more effective workout. During can give a quick energy boost and taken after exercise they are great for tired and aching muscles, even aiding in muscle repair. Otherwise, if you are just controlling your diet then they can be taken with protein or in between meals as a boost that gets into the bloodstream fast and helps to keep you going until your next meal.
So there you have it. The secret of nutritionists and trainers everywhere! Can I get this through diet alone? On a reduced calorie intake, probably not. It is suggested that BCAAs should be taken as a supplement for a period of up to six months at a time. The great news is that if you would like to try this as part of your regime, there is a delicious, chocolate flavoured (BCAA packed) Power Boost powder supplement in the Pure Nourish range. One scoop can be mixed with 8oz of water or almond/soy/rice milk or added to the Pure Nourish original protein powder.
With regards to my own weight loss, I have now lost 8kgs/17.5lbs, following the Slenderiiz program and I feel great! I’m counting down to a family summer holiday, lets see what the next few weeks bring…
Stand by for more food inspiration.