Information by: Charles Poliquin
What are Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)? BCAAs are essentially the individual components of protein. As we consume protein, our body will break that protein down into tiny components that can be absorbed and those are called Amino Acids.
Essential BCAAs are made up of three ‘essential’ amino acids, leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They are essential because the body is unable to make them out of other amino acids, meaning they must be ingested through food or supplements. The BCAAs make up 40 percent of the daily requirement of all nine essential amino acids, indicating their importance.
The BCAAs are found in foods containing protein, with the highest concentrations in chicken, beef, salmon, eggs, and whey protein. They can also be supplemented, which can be useful for many of us because free form BCAAs (those consumed via supplement form don’t require our body to break the proteins down into individual BCAAs) bypass the liver and gut tissue and go directly to the blood stream.
As their name suggests, BCAAs have a branched side chain that simplifies the job of converting each amino acid into energy during exertion. They make up about 35 percent of all muscle tissue. The more BCAAs that are present in the muscles, the more they will be used for energy, slowing the breakdown of muscles cells, and preventing muscle loss.
WHEN TO TAKE BCAAS?
The benefits of BCAA’s are greatest when taking during/after your cardio/exercise routine. As that is when you breakdown your amino acids in your muscles and can refuel them through supplementation. However, BCAAs can be taken several times per day with added benefits and really any time you are looking for a refreshing drink!
BCAAS ENHANCE MUSCLE PROTEIN SYNTHESIS
BCAAs are well known for triggering protein synthesis. Combining BCAAs with resistance exercise results in maximal protein synthesis because they both trigger something called the mTORC1 signaling pathway that is essential for muscle building.
Another great benefit of BCAAs is that if you have to take time off from training due to injury, a need for a break, or lack of time, increasing your BCAA intake will minimize muscle loss. In addition, because BCAAs trigger protein synthesis even in the absence of exercise, the preservation of lean muscle tissue can keep metabolism up and help prevent fat gain when inactive.
LEUCINE-ENRICHED BCAAS EQUALIZE MUSCLE BUILDING BETWEEN OLD & YOUNG
The BCAA leucine can increase protein synthesis by as much as 145 percent when you take it after strength training. It’s become popular lately to take leucine alone without valine and isoleucine, however this is not supported by the literature.
For older people, leucine intake with the other BCAAs is paramount. As you age, creating a muscle-building environment in the body is important, but hard to do. Activation of protein synthesis is impaired, dropping off after age 35. This decreased muscle-building effect along with a tendency to eat less dietary protein with aging are the primary contributors to muscle loss and sarcopenia.
Leucine-enriched BCAAs (a BCAA mixture that is 40 percent leucine) are a “cure” for this because they have been shown to elevate and prolong protein synthesis even in older people in a dose-dependent manner after resistance training.
Remember, the more muscle you have, the more fat you burn in a day! Therefore, when body fat loss is the goal, you really want to at minimum preserve your lean muscle and at best put a bit of muscle on to help burn away your stored body fat.
BCAAS INCREASE FAT BURNING AND CAN SUPPORT FAT LOSS
Surveys show that people with a higher BCAA intake in their diets have less body fat, more muscle, and better body composition.
Isoleucine improves glucose tolerance, while leucine increases energy expenditure and fat oxidation. Greater fat mobilization allows for a more flexible metabolism, which can enable fat loss from a combination of training and diet.
In a review of the role that the essential amino acids play in body composition, scientists wrote that the BCAAs “appear to have unique obesity-reducing effects” because they decrease food intake and body weight by increasing the gene signaling of muscle building pathways.
BCAAS ENHANCE ENDURANCE PERFORMANCE AND DECREASE FATIGUE
Reducing fatigue and improving endurance performance is the clinical trial area where BCAAs perform most impressively. There are two mechanisms via which BCAAs improve performance.
First, BCAAs can be burned as energy to maintain ATP energy levels during glycogen-depleting exercise. BCAAs may also enhance the body’s ability to burn fat, increasing the accessible energy pool.
Second, BCAAs prevent central fatigue of the nervous system by inhibiting uptake of tryptophan into the brain. Tryptophan is used to make serotonin in the brain, increasing tiredness and fatigue. Scientists who study the limits of human performance believe that the real limiting factor in performance is when the brain tells you “I’m done.”
BCAAS DECREASE MUSCLE SORENESS & DOMS FOR GREATER TRAINING FREQUENCY
A series of studies on both trained and untrained individuals show that BCAAs are worth the time and money to reduce (not prevent) DOMS in response to both resistance and endurance exercise.
BCAAs are the gem of workout/exercise supplements because they preserve the integrity of muscle fibers and reduce post-workout soreness, allowing you to train or do cardio at a higher intensity more frequently.
BCAAS IMPROVE INSULIN HEALTH & MAY REDUCE DIABETES RISK
The BCAA isoleucine improves glucose tolerance on its own, and the whole trio of BCAAs can support insulin sensitivity and metabolic rate for improved body composition.
BCAAS CORRELATE WITH LONGEVITY AND ARE THERAPEUTIC
BCAAs are used in medicine to treat liver disease, prevent muscle loss with aging, and reduce mortality risk with cancer. In addition to being therapeutic, BCAAs have an anti-aging effect because they increase the formation of new mitochondria.
In a review on BCAAs and human health, scientists write that BCAAs “behave as evolutionary conserved modulators of lifespan,” meaning they will help you live longer if you get enough of them. They also have been found to improve cognition because of the effect they have on the neurotransmitters, improving synthesis of glutamate and GABA and inhibiting serotonin.
Try adding Ewyn’s BCAA’s into your routine, it might be Exactly What You Need!