If you are familiar with the health and fitness industry, you will often see Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) promoted for its muscle building and muscle preserving benefits. While preserving muscle mass on a diet is important, it is the way you maintain and promote your metabolism that can really make or break your weight loss diet. This is where BCAAs and cortisol become important, influencing not only your desire to eat but also your metabolism.
The role of cortisol in weight gain and weight loss
When your cortisol levels rise, your entire body goes through changes that promote weight gain. According to Dr Jade Teta, “cortisol impacts several hormones responsible for hunger and cravings”, promoting your resistance to both insulin and leptin. Which as you might have already guessed, isn’t a good thing to have when you are attempting to lose weight. In fact, your body needs insulin to facilitate the uptake of energy into your cells. Resistance to insulin reduces its effectiveness, resulting in more energy being store in your fat cells. Leptin on the other hand, is responsible for controlling your metabolism and hunger. When your body builds a resistance to leptin, its effectiveness is reduced, prolonging hunger and decreasing your metabolism.
Simply put, if you have high levels of cortisol you will start to feel hungrier and your body will start storing more fat, overall making your weight loss journey much harder to complete.
How BCAAs can help reduce cortisol
Researchers from Ball State University found that when BCAA supplements were combined with strength training, it significantly reduced levels of cortisol in the body. Furthermore, cortisol has been shown in studies to increase appetite and reduce metabolism. Reducing its concentration in the body alleviates its influence, resulting in a higher performing metabolism and a greater control over your appetite.
How can we further improve our metabolism?
You can further improve your metabolism by combining BCAA supplementation with other factors that also increase your metabolism. According to Eric Salvador a head instructor at The Fhitting Room in New York City, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) can boost your metabolism for up to 48 hours. Not only that, it can also help preserve muscle mass while you lose weight.
As many of you already know, weight loss is often accompanied by a loss in strength and muscle. Basically, your body will catabolize some of the muscles that aren’t being used, filling its need to conserve energy and supply the body with vital amino acids. A BCAA supplement can help reduce the amount of muscle catabolized by providing a portion of those essential amino acids needed by the body.
When to take your BCAAs?
Unlike fat, BCAAs are not stored in the body for later use, as such the best way to consume them is throughout the day. Take between 3 and 5 grams with breakfast and then take another 3 to 5 when you work out or before bed. Do not take any with lunch and dinner.