5 musts before buying your BCAA’s!

BCAA’s or Branch Chain Amino Acids, are one of the best supplements for a rider to take. Amino Acids are used by muscles for fuel, recovery and overall balanced amount of nutrition. The right combination makes up a complete protein, at least 3 different main amino acids eaten together.

Combining foods with essential amino acids is a terrific way to get more energy and feel less hungry. Anyone can get their correct amount of protein when they can combine proper foods together. You don’t have to eat meat at every meal if you are smart about your foods and meal planning. What you eat makes up either complete proteins or incomplete. Eating smarter is manipulating the system so to speak.

Everything you eat makes some sort of chemical reaction in the body. Someone with a balanced diet eats the right proportions and the right combination of food for their body.

Every day the same chemical reaction is taking place and the body stays balanced.  Think of our horses and how we feed them. If a horse were to eat a different type of grain or hay at one meal, that horse could colic. This is an extreme due to the gut but our bodies react within and we don’t realize it’s going on. A balanced diet causes less stress on the body, outside and internal.

Picture B: Common Foods to Eat

Back to Branch Chain Amino Acids, to eat all the different foods to get your proper amount of amino acids is very difficult.  Nutritionists are highly recommended to help you find out more information on your exact nutritional needs. But finding a good supplement can make a huge difference in your performance, there’s about 5 musts that I require before buying the supplement. I am a minimalist when it comes to supplementing for me and my horses because I feel you should be eating your nutrition. There are some things that are worth supplementing and others that are not. BCAA’s are one of the supplements worth investing into and choosing to be disciplined enough to take.

Different things can supply us certain amino acid and eating a egg and some almonds with seeds will give you sustainable energy for 3-4 hours. The charts on this page show which essential amino acids are found in some common foods. Combine the foods to make a complete protein for main meals. There’s a a great blog from Livestrong.com with a list of foods that can give us the most amino acids.

Supplementing with a BCAA’s can help you gain a more balanced diet. Taken regularly either in a glass of water, there’s some great flavors, or mix a non-flavored one in your favorite smoothie. Make sure read both front and back of containers.

Picture A: Essential & Non-Essential Amino Acids

Read your labels when purchasing your BCAA's.

Companies will sell you on their latest way of combining amino acids with other performance enhancers. Typically, I like my to separate my supplements. If I wanted an energy or weight loss enhancer, I would take one. I do not want it in my every day supplement. They can dehydrate you or make you feel “weird” leaving you not wanting to take the supplement, when the reason to take it to start off with would never make you feel worse.  There’s a ton of great products out there but buyer beware!

Here are my 5 musts  before buying BCAA’s.

#1 Quality of the Product’s Digestion & Absorption 

Depending on how the amino acids were manufactured or processed into this easy to scoop product, they may or may not deliver what their labels read if poorly digested. Most supplement companies should know how well the product is digested or what has gone into making sure the product is easily digested and absorbed by the human body. Speak/message with an individual product representative for brand information before you purchase, they should be able to answer this question.

If the BCAA’s is not designed well it will take the body longer to digest. The problem is that your body will start to pass the supplement before the body has a chance to absorb it.  If the company doesn’t know how well it absorbs or gives you a sales pitch, I would find another company. There’s has to have been some sort of research by the company in this matter.

#2 Enhancers Added

Check to see if the enhancer is a weight loss or has energy stimulates. Some people like them, they are not for me. If the enhancer is Glutamine, that’s great. That’s a supplement that I need daily for performance. Personally I like the BCAA’s from Nutrisport San Marcos, CA, not sold online that I know of but this particular product states what has been added by electrolytes.

As a professional equestrian, extra electrolytes help my overall wellbeing. Look for potassium, sodium, magnesium in the supplement. This can help you not worry about getting them from somewhere else. The feeling of physical depletion after a long day at the barn is gone when I remember to take my BCAA’s.

Picture C:  Label #1 of BCAA’s

#3  L-Leucine

This is one of the main amino acid and depending on the manufacture, there might not be as much as another and look at #4. If it has a BCAA Blend and there’s only a small amount or % in the supplement, what else is making up the scoop? Look at #2!

I recommend a product that states outright the main amino acids like one above with  Leucine and Isoleucine stated. A good review to take a look at is from ConsumerLab.com regarding the quality of supplements like BCAA’s. I recommend reading it before you buy.

#4 Gram or Mila-grams per serving

Lets take the two labels I have on this page from two different BCAA’s, from two different companies. The scoop size or serving per scoop is 10 grams verse 8.22 grams (above label 8,220 mg) Not a big difference and I prefer more quality in a smaller serving size, usually the serving size is one scoop. Most of the time, scoops pour too much of the supplement to taste appropriately so I’ll maybe use 3/4 a serving size.

The label states the exact amount of main amino acids in the supplement so that’s easy to gather.

Picture D:  Label #2 of BCAA’s

#5 No Sugar

Why would there need to be sugar in this supplement? To make it taste good. If you want a flavored BCAA’s supplement, prepare to either have sugar or artificial sweetener. This may or may not meet your natural preferences, so look for this when reading your labels.

Choose a non-flavored, these might be harder to find, but they won’t have any sweeteners. You can mix this into your smoothies or mix with orange juice, which is sugar but natural.

BioRider Fitness is a community and full support system to help equestrian athletes on their journey to getting fit. There’s one way to make a change, it’s doing the work. No PDF or quick Core Challenge is going to get long term results. When you are a member of BioRider Fitness, you are apart of a team. This Blog was inspired by a question from one of our dedicated athletes. More about the author and founder of BRF, Bridget Braden-Olson