BCAA: An essential supplement for BJJ training

BCAA: An essential supplement for BJJ training

1. Branch Chain Amino Acids ( BCAA )

Essential amino acids are considered the best known nutrient substrates for protein synthesis. The protein components are used to construct the human body. There are 20 different kinds of amino acids and among them, 9 are essential and 11 are non essential amino acids. Our body needs all 20 kinds of amino acids but the essential acids requirement is fulfilled from an external source: the food rich in protein.The valine, leucine, and isoleucine are the essential amino acids that are converted to energy for building muscles. These three essential amino acids are called Branched Chain Amino Acids. The three amino acids are important for nutritional benefits and have mediation effects on:

  • Protein synthesis
  • Homeostasis
  • Anti-obesity
  • Nutrient-sensitive signaling pathways.

In combat sports, BCCA acts as an efficient source of energy during bJJ training and suppresses lactic acid production to strengthen the immune system of Jiu jitsu athletes.

1.1. How does BCAA support the BJJ athlete in strength training?

How does BCAA support  the BJJ athlete in strength training?

Branched-chain amino acids can be consumed via whole foods that are rich in protein but can also be ingested in supplemental form. The BJJ training supplements are beneficial for BJJ athletes to enhance recovery in the body and muscle building. The following roles of BCAA cannot be ignored:

Nutrition Metabolism

Apart from protein synthesis, the BCAA signaling molecules participate in nutrition metabolism. BCAA supplementation nutrition aids in the BJJ training programs in the following ways

  • It promotes glucose tolerance
  • Slowing fat mass gain
  • Reverses diet induced obesity

Furthermore, a recent publication reported that supplementation nutrition with BCAAs in low protein diets can increase the net amino acids fluxes across skeletal muscle in vivo of BJJ fighters.

Intestinal Health

For the high intensity fights and training, gut health is essential for BJJ fighters. Growing investigations with animals and humans indicate that BCAA supplements on a daily basis are key regulators in maintaining intestinal health. Along with protein synthesis they play an effective role in maintenance and growth of organisms. With the improved gut health the immunity of the bJJ fighters is improved.

Immune System

BCAAs supplementation in BJJ athletes regulate the immune system including increasing fuel sources for immune cells. During intense BJJ exercises, the level of plasma glutamine decreases and this can be recovered by the supplementation nutrition of Branched chain Amino Acids.

1.2. Which foods are the natural source of essential amino acids?

Which foods are the  natural source of essential amino acids?

Photo credit: @nutrition

The main goal of the grappler is to gain muscle strength, power and endurance. The less recovery time and effective coordination of mind and body. BCAA plays a significant role in the pre-workouts and post-workouts of BJJ fighters. There are lots of foods present which can be consumed on a daily basis to meet the requirements of protein intake in the body. Following are the natural foods which are rich sources of proteins.

  • Meats
  • Fish
  • Dairy
  • Nuts
  • Eggs

Some people consider whole food protein as a better source than supplementation nutrition. Natural food sources are economical and considered healthy because they contain great sources of other nutrients like iron, calcium, magnesium, omega 3, fiber, and fatty acids. All this leads to healthy protein intake.

1.3. BCAA Supplementation: Dosage Amount and Timing

During BJJ training, the advice of a professional nutritionist is required to sort out the perfect timing and dosage for the supplements. Normal dosage of BCAA is considered six to nine grams for BJJ players but the intake could be high if required for maximal effectiveness. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu supplements are beneficial to consume for the development and growth of the body. The pondering point is the timing of the protein intake.

If you choose supplements for the jiu jitsu training then make sure they are of high quality and consume it 30-60 minutes before workout because the beneficial ingredients in supplements take time to work effectively.

The consumption and sale of BCAA is rapidly increasing and has become a million dollar business. For the BJJ athletes, they claim that BCAA stimulates muscle protein synthesis. It fosters an anabolic response. It is claimed that intake of BCAA supplements improves the metal focus which is greatly required in jiu Jitsu fights. The mind and body proper coordination amplifies the power and energy to manifold.

Are Sports and Protein drinks safe?

Sally Lyons Wyatt, the executive vice president at Information Resources shares his view about sports and energy drinks.

He says,
“Performance of sports and protein drinks are super strong,”

Sports drinks are becoming progressively helpful supplements for sports persons. The use of natural and organic ingredients contributed to the health and wellness of the combat players. They contain the essential ingredients like:

  • Coconut water to stay hydrated
  • Himalayan salt- a rich source of electrolytes
  • Ashwagandha
  • Potassium and magnesium
  • Plant based nutrients.

Is It Safe to Take Supplements Daily?

If weight loss is in your workout goals then daily supplement intake helps in weight loss and aids in the BJJ training sessions. The intake of pre workouts before 30 minutes of BJJ session gets absorb in your body and grants maximal strength in the training.The BJJ practitioners can benefit from pre workouts in many ways like:

  • It lowers hunger
  • Fasts your metabolism and cut fats
  • Boosts your energy levels
  • Lowers fatigue

2. BCAA benefits as Pre workouts for Jiu Jitsu Training

Pre-workouts are considered to improve the overall Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training performance in the fights and championships while essential amino acids build, repair and rebuild your muscular mass.

We can say that BCAA supplements have remarkable pre workout benefits but the importance of pre-workouts ingredients like caffeine, betaanine, and creatine cannot be ignored. Both are meant to increase the performance and immunity in grappling Arts. The increased amount of BCAA in the muscles aids in the less breakdown of muscle fibers. Following are the main benefits which can be gained from BCAA supplement in BJJ trainings

  • Less muscular mass
  • Decreased levels of fatigue hormones
  • Promotes recovery
  • Efficiency in sports performance
  • Weight loss.

2.1. Pre-workouts or BCAA: What to choose?

BCAA and pre-workouts can both work great together. All it depends on the targeted goals and lifestyle the BJJ athlete opt for to achieve maximum benefit.

2.2. Between BCAA and Creatine Which one works best in jiu jitsu?

To attain performance goals in Jiu Jitsu, the BCAA ( protein powder) and creatine supplement is consumed to improve the power and strength in BJJ fights. It is evident from different research articles that BCAA and creatine consumption are directly linked with health and sportive performance indicators like:

  • Body composition
  • Muscle Strength and damage
  • High intensity sprint performance
  • Anaerobic performance and capacity
  • Endurance performance

2.3. How are BCAA and Creatine different?

How are BCAA and  Creatine different?

Creatine is produced naturally and contains three kinds of amino acids but in whey protein powder there are nine kinds of essential amino acids which do not occur in the body naturally. During high intensity Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training sessions creatine increases muscular capacity while BCAA enhances protein synthesis. Creatine aids the muscles to hold water while essential amino acids assist in growth and recovery of the muscles. It reduces muscle fatigue and soreness.

It is mentioned in the research articles that combination of creatine and BCAA before and after workout is considered beneficial in BJJ resistance training programs.

2.4. Why do BJJ athletes take Supplements?

Combat sports is full of challenges to defend yourself from the sweeps and reverses and potential locks while grappling The BJJ fighters body needs nourishment to keep the body and mind working. They require cardiovascular stamina, power and strength in BJJ training.

3. BCAA Supplementation nutrition: A biomarker of many diseases

BCAA are considered the biomarkers of many diseases. The enhanced or decreased level of BCAA in a body can cause the following sickness in the body.

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Renal Failure
  • Sepsis
  • Liver cirrhosis

3.1 Risks associated with long term use of BCAA In BJJ athletes

Balanced nutrition of athletes involves the usage of both ordinary products and complexes of functional food ingredients that contribute to improving the performance of athletes, strengthening the immune system. BCAA comprises the specialized components like valine, leucine, isoleucine, that are widely used by sports athletes in food supplements to enhance the performance in combat sports.

Long term use of BCAAs can cause activation of the mTORC1 pathway, which causes the growth of cancer cells. Dr. Valter Longo who is head of the Longevity Institute at the University of Southern California also mentioned that deprivation of leucine inhibits growth of breast cancer cells. Dr. Longo quoted:

“The effect of AAs on the activation of the IGF-I and TOR-S6K pathways is likely to be an important factor in explaining the lifespan extension in AA restricted organisms and previous studies have noted benefits related to the restriction of particular AAs.”

From the other researchers it is found that the long term intake of BCAA supplements competes with tryptophan for brain transportation. They access the brain causing opposite effects. As Tryptophan hormone is a mood booster and helps in sleep, On the other hand increased levels of amino acids reduce the synthesis of serotonin thus causing negative effects on mood and sleep.

In addition, serotonin also plays a role in the regulation of appetite. Decreased levels of serotonin causes obese means shorter lifespan.

In 2020, the article published in North American journal of Food and nutrition research revealed that Mass gainers, whey protein, and BCAA were the most frequently used supplements by athletes in the study. The athlete's motivation influences the choice of supplement. The intake of post workout exercise protein stimulates the synthesis of myofibrillar protein and a positive nitrogen balance but only essential amino acids have demonstrated an improvement of myoprotein synthesis recovery and training adaptations.

The long term use of dietary supplements lead to drug nutrient or nutrient-nutrient reactions which results in harmful effects on athletes health and performance.

3.2. How cardiovascular health is improved by taking BJJ Supplements

The evidence is present that proves the effectiveness of BCAA usage in sports’ nutrition for enhancing immunity. capacity and performance of BJJ athletes but the extract taken from different researches showed that excess consumption of BCAA increases the chances of cardiovascular disease.

3.3. Can BCAA cause Diabetes in BJJ athletes?

Some of the researchers are of the view that BCAAs perform different functions in the metabolism of glucose among insulin tolerant and intolerant persons. The research conducted by Eleonora N.Trushina reveals that no evidence has found that BCAA intake increases the risk of diabetes. Although it is still undiscovered that BCAA components in the blood are the causes or mediators of insulin tolerance or the reason of metabolic dysfunction in the body.

The ingredient leucine in the BCAAs has the capability to stimulate the insulin hormone. So the chances of diabetes mellitus are reduced or negligible in women due to BCAAs intake. However, the same was not the case with men. The inverse results generated in men revealed in the research that estradiol powers up the activity of BCAA catabolism enzyme in the blood which shows that BCAA is controlled by estrogen. Thus the women's hormones are favorable in the usage of BCAA intake as compared to the men.

Currently it is unclear that high levels of BCAA are purely markers of the diabetic mellitus. Long term use of BCAA supplements is definitely a bad idea but BCAA can be reserved for BJJ athletes

4. What supplements Nathan Dasher recommends?

Nathan Dasher is a fitness trainer of BJJ USA. Following are the supplements recommended by him:

  • Fish oil
  • Creatine
  • Protein
  • Vitamin D

He further suggests that 10 grams of fish oil is enough to enhance immunity and to give relief in joints ache.

He added :
“All vitamins are important, but vitamin D even more so as it can protect your immune system from the germs and bacteria that can prevent you from training. Vitamin D is especially useful in the winter, so thanks to it, while most people are going around with stuffy noses, you can spend your time in the gym, training.”

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