Knowing the value of BCAAs for women is important because it can assist with many workout, fitness, and health goals. BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) can help develop muscle, support weight loss goals, and improve muscle recovery. Each of these are typically significant goals for female exercisers and athletes. So, make sure you know the importance and recommendations of BCAAs for women clients.
It’s important for any fitness professional to know about nutrition and supplementation. This is because clients, men and women, will have questions about what they should eat and if they should be taking a supplement. Because food is fuel for exercise and sometimes needs supplementation, these are all components of exercise science. When you get a degree in exercise science from Lionel University, you’ll learn about your own fitness goals and provide answers to common questions, like should my female client be taking a branched chain amino acid supplement?
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Before digging into what you need to know about BCAAs for women, let’s start with the basics. First, it’s critical to remember what a branched chain amino acid is and amino acids are important. Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are a subset of three essential amino acids: leucine, valine and isoleucine. Amino acids are molecules that form protein. And, essential amino acids cannot be manufactured by the body, therefore one must ingest them through diet or supplementation. The unique chemical structure of BCAAs differentiates them from the other six essential amino acids.
These special amino acids are composed of one carbon atom nucleus with three or more adjoining carbon atoms that branch out from the center. The average daily BCAA intake recommended for most healthy adults is as follows:
- Women: Minimum of 9 grams per day
- Men: Minimum of 12 grams per day
Women and men benefit from this valuable protein source, but what do you need to know about
BCAAs for women? Keep these factors in mind when working with female clients.
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BCAAs Promote Muscle Growth and Repair
Athletes who consume BCAAs before a strenuous, intensive workout are shown to recover optimally from the damage to their muscle fibers caused by exercise, according to Nutrients Journal. This is due to a process called muscle protein synthesis which these essential amino acids stimulate during post-workout recovery. Protein synthesis works to repair microtears in the tissues to alleviate muscle soreness and
Fatigue. Protein synthesis also helps to increase the size and strength of your muscle mass overall. This can be especially valuable for your female clients because the Frontiers in Nutrition research found that BCAAs can protect against muscle loss. Research shows that, after 40, women begin to lose muscle tissue, or lean body mass. Maintaining a low body fat percentage and high lean body mass percentage also have valuable health benefits.
Therefore, even if women don’t necessarily have the goal of building muscle, they might benefit from taking a BCAA supplement. The muscle growth from BCAA supplementation will help prevent age-related muscle loss. And, when one can prevent muscle soreness, they’re more able to perform optimally in daily living and in their next workout. Both are wins for female clients.
BCAAs Help to Regulate Metabolic Function
A slow metabolism can make it hard to maintain a healthy weight. It’s even harder if a client has goals for fat loss. Over time, a slower metabolism can increase your risk of chronic medical issues such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and obesity. However, the concentration of BCAAs in many diets high in protein can help the body metabolize fat enzymes and glucose sugars more efficiently to promote lean muscle mass and reduce fat storage accumulation, explains the Nutrition and Metabolism Journal.
This makes BCAAs for women a valuable supplement to consider because females tend to have a slower metabolism than their male counterparts. This is, in part, thanks to muscle mass and body size. As such, increasing protein intake can aid in weight loss for women, specifically supporting a reduced hip to waist ratio.
BCAAs HELP MAINTAIN HORMONE BALANCE
The right balance of hormone secretion allows each physiological function to occur as it’s designed to. In many cases, BCAAs help contribute to hormonal balance, according to the British Journal of Pharmacology. The journal suggests that these amino acids increase the hormones leptin, adiponectin and glucagon, which moderate appetite, convert fat cells into energy, and sustain blood sugar levels.
Additionally, BCAAs can stimulate the release of hormones to fight viral or bacterial infections, as well as manage the symptoms of traumatic brain injuries and mental health conditions. Women naturally experience hormonal imbalances throughout their lifetime. When this happens, they may experience a drop in energy, which can affect their ability to stay active. BCAAs can be a valuable support tool in managing this health challenge for your female clients.
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BCAA Sources: Whole Foods and Supplements
While BCAAs for women can’t be ignored, like any area of fitness and health, it’s important to consider best practices. This is especially the case when it comes to considering BCAA supplementation. As with all supplementation practices, it’s best to consume most BCAA intake from whole food sources if possible, suggest registered dietitians Melissa Majumdar and Lisa Bonci in Runner’s World.
Animal proteins have all nine essential amino acids, including BCAAs, but if you adhere to a vegetarian diet, you can combine various plant-based proteins for an adequate amount of BCAAs as well. The whole foods sources below contain all three branched chain amino acids, according to Majumdar and Bonci:
- Red Lentils
- Hemp Seeds
Optimum nutrition means getting everything you can from food. However, food quality and manufacturing processes make that a bit more difficult. Further, clients trying to lose body fat will be in a caloric deficit. This makes it even harder for them to consume the adequate amount and type of protein from their diet. In these cases, it’s time to consider a protein supplement for BCAA intake. If your clients want to boost their intake with a BCAA powder or capsule, there are a few factors to keep in mind. One should consider the quality of ingredients, the supplement form (capsule or powder), and the dosage amount for your nutrition and fitness needs.
Let’s break these down further:
The ingredient list should also contain leucine, valine, and isoleucine. It should contain no artificial flavors, sweeteners, colors, or preservatives. To ensure the supplement is safe for consumption, verify that it’s been tested by a reputable third-party, such as the NSF Certification for Sport.
This is a matter of preference. Clients can choose the kind of supplement that’s easiest and most convenient for them to take. A BCAA in powder form can be used as extra bulk for a smoothie if you want a complete meal. On the other hand, swallowing a capsule is quicker and more convenient. When selecting a capsule, your clients should look at the BCAA concentration first. They may need to take more than one to equal the amount in a powder.
The right amount of BCAAs for women will differ from the average RDA depending on exercise level, body weight and nutrient deficiencies. The National Institutes of Health report that, in most cases, it’s safe to supplement with 20g of BCAA daily for six weeks. However, it also recommends that clients consult with a physician to be sure.
It’s important to know that too much BCAA consumption (more than the average RDA) can lead to insulin resistance. This is a risk factor for the development of Type-2 diabetes. Additionally, women should also consider that research recommends avoiding BCAAs in the early days of pregnancy. Isoleucine can interfere with the hormones responsible for a healthy fetus growth in utero. Further, it’s not ethical for manufacturers to test supplements on children or pregnant women, therefore it’s not wise to recommend supplementation, in general, to these populations without the guidance of a physician.
BCAAs Are Part of a Healthy, Balanced Diet for Women
The potential wellness benefits of BCAAs for women are extensive. Whether your clients want to build lean, strong muscles, balance their hormones or develop a more efficient metabolism,
BCAAs can be a valuable tool. Always recommend your clients consult with a doctor before using any supplements, as requirements and cautions can differ from one person to the next.
Supplementation is one of many factors that influences the ability of one to exercise and the effects of a fitness training program. With an exercise degree program, you’ll learn ALL the factors that impact a client’s ability to move and be fit. It’s a holistic approach you can only get with through a college program. And, while having a personal training certification can help you get a job, an exercise science degree is even more impressive. This allows you to work with more client types, charge more per session, and provide additional service beyond traditional fitness training.
Regardless of whether you’re pursuing an associates degree, bachelor’s degree, or master’s degree, at Lionel you earn multiple certifications and specializations along the way. This means you can start working as a fitness and nutrition professional even before graduation day! And, with the help of financial aid, earning your exercise science degree is even more of a possibility.
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