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BCAA-Drinks: Top oder flop?

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  • What exactly are BCAA drinks?
  • What effects do BCAA (energy) drinks have?
  • Nutrients and ingredients: What is in BCAA drinks?
  • BCAA drinks: before or after training?
  • Can you lose weight with BCAA drinks?
  • Are BCAA energy drinks useful?
  • Are BCAA energy drinks dangerous?
  • Conclusion: Occasional pre-workout boost is completely okay

A little extra energy boost before a workout never hurts, right? Then a BCAA energy drink could be just the thing. The sparkling fitness soda in a can is not only intended to wake you up, but also to improve performance and concentration during training. Is it just a new fitness trend or a real game changer for your workout? We check the important facts and draw an honest conclusion for you.

What exactly are BCAA drinks?

BCAA – behind these four letters are three branched-chain amino acids that together form a vital trio: valine, leucine and isoleucine. Or also known as “branched-chain amino acids”, BCAA for short. As the smallest components of protein, amino acids are essential for your muscles. And since your body can’t produce them independently, you have to replenish them through food.

BCAA drinks specifically contain these three amino acids, which are said to be of particular importance for athletes, which is why they are increasingly recommended as pre-workout boosters. As a BCAA energy drink, caffeine was also added to them. The fitness soda is available either ready in a can, such as from NOCCO, or as BCAA powder to mix, such as the Energy Aminos from foodspring or from Olimp without caffeine. Which form you choose is a matter of taste.

What effects do BCAA (energy) drinks have?

Can three amino acids really make that big of a difference? Of course, all essential amino acids (9 in total) are fundamentally important – even vital. The special thing about valine, leucine and isoleucine: They don’t take a detour via the liver, but instead move straight on towards the muscles and can be used there

But back to their effect. BCAA drinks should:

  • Provide more power and energy during your workout.
  • Prevent muscle breakdown during long, intense training sessions.
  • Protect your muscles from breakdown with a low-calorie diet.
  • Improve concentration and focus.
  • Support regeneration.
  • Prevent muscle soreness.

Nutrients and ingredients: What is in BCAA drinks?

The most important component are of course the three amino acids. They should occur in a ratio of 2:1:1 (leucine:isoleucine:valine), which is based on the recommendations of the International Society for Sports Nutrition.

The fact that BCAA drinks wake you up and provide a real boost of energy is not due to the amino acids, but rather to the added caffeine. Most BCAA drinks contain around 105 grams of caffeine, which is a little more than a regular cup of coffee. So you have combined two benefits: a stimulating effect plus an extra portion of protein. That’s why such drinks are often sold as the “better” energy drinks. Alternatively, there are also products that mix in green tea extract, guarana or other herbal stimulants instead of caffeine.

You should always take a look at the sugar content. Just like with energy or soft drinks, it mixes in completely unnoticed. However, sugar is not only unhealthy, it also provides calories that you can actually save yourself.

What else is on the ingredients list? Water, flavors, acidulants, sweeteners and sometimes an extra portion of vitamin B3, B6 or B12, which is also intended to prevent fatigue.

BCAA drinks: before or after training?

In order to benefit from the desired energy kick, you should drink BCAA drinks containing caffeine before rather than after training. According to a study by the International Society for Sports Nutrition, consuming caffeine about 60 minutes before a workout can demonstrably increase concentration. You can drink pure BCAA powder or drinks without added caffeine at any time.

More focus during training thanks to the caffeine kick

Of course, there is also muscle protection and support for muscle building afterwards. However, a high-quality protein powder that contains leucine, isoleucine and valine as well as all other amino acids is just as effective. According to the study, your muscles have even greater added value.

Can you lose weight with BCAA drinks?

Even though BCAA drinks are becoming more and more hyped in the fitness scene, we have to bring you down to earth: just drinking such energy boosters will neither make your muscles grow nor lose the pounds.

Why are they still repeatedly associated with the topic of losing weight? Valine, leucine and isoleucine prevent your body from gaining energy from your muscles, especially when you eat a low-calorie diet. After all, you “just” want to lose weight and not lose muscle mass. Because it burns more calories even at rest and helps reduce your weight.

BCAAs may not be able to directly reduce weight, but they can help you get there through this effect. This can only apply to drinks that contain these amino acids if they do not provide any additional calories, are free of sugar and have an appropriate amino acid profile. AND: Of course it doesn’t work without training and an appropriately adapted diet.

Are BCAA energy drinks useful?

Everyone needs BCAAs. The only question is: Do you need an extra portion of amino acids in the form of an energy drink? Our conclusion is quite clear: no.

If you have a varied diet rich in protein, you don’t have to worry about getting enough BCAAs. Valine, leucine and isoleucine are found in so many protein-rich foods that you can meet your normal needs without special preparations or drinks.

In addition, there are many more amino acids than just these three, which are just as (vitally) important and important for building and maintaining muscle. It doesn’t work with BCAAs from energy drinks alone, whatever Studies show.

It’s much smarter to grab a classic protein shake after training instead of “just” consuming BCAAs. A protein powder usually contains all nine essential amino acids, including all BCAAs.

Are BCAA energy drinks dangerous?

Energy drinks are often criticized, and not without reason: the high sugar and caffeine content is primarily to blame. However, most BCAA drinks contain no sugar, only calorie-free sweeteners. How healthy or unhealthy they are, however, is a completely different (big) topic, on which science still disagrees and new studies continue to demonstrate different effects.

The use of acidulants such as citric acid is also questionable because they can attack tooth enamel and, according to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, this increases the risk of tooth decay.

It is important that you do not drink several doses of the caffeinated drinks in a row, as this can cause unwanted side effects such as nervousness, nausea or a racing heart. “It is particularly problematic that the extreme sweetness of energy drinks masks the bitter taste of the caffeine. This means that large quantities are quickly drunk in a short period of time,” says a statement from the consumer advice center.

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