Branched Chain Amino Acid (BCAA)


Branched chain amino acid supplements (BCAAs) have been around longer than others such as creatine and beta-alanine, but few realized the full range of their capabilities. The BCAAs include Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine, and they support everything from anabolic muscle building to high-intensity endurance training to improving mental function and mood. They are among the nine essential amino acids that the body is unable to make, meaning they must be ingested through food or supplements. BCAAs are found in high-protein foods such as meat and whey protein. Personally for me BCAA`s are – must! One of the most beneficial supplements for all kind of athletes.


>>> Benefits

The BCAAs are of special importance to any nutrition program because they’re not broken down in the liver, but rather bypass the liver and are transported directly to the muscle. Once in the muscle, they play a significant role in transforming the body into a muscle-building factory by influencing various aspects of muscle metabolism. Aside from playing an important role in protein synthesis, the BCAAs provide extra energy during heavy lifting, help spare muscle tissue, and fight mental brain drain as you battle through a workout. The BCAAs, unlike many other amino acids, can also be used as fuel for producing energy to support your muscles during prolonged, intense exercise.

Leucine is able to stimulate protein synthesis through the same pathway that insulin influences, especially in skeletal muscle. (A study in the journal Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that BCAA supplementation can contribute to an anabolic environment in the body. Leucine-enriched BCAAs (a BCAA mixture that is 40 percent leucine) was shown to elevate and prolong protein synthesis after resistance training) BCAAs may also play a role in delaying central fatigue.


Ingesting BCAAs increases the amount in the bloodstream, helping to balance the increase in free tryptophan associated with exercise. BCAAs decrease the amount of tryptophan transported to the brain, ultimately delaying fatigue.
Many research studies have demonstrated the benefits of consuming BCAAs during various types of exercise, including strength training, endurance training, and general exercise.

>>BCAAs and fat loss

The BCAAs reduce protein breakdown (i.e., catabolism) by stimulating the release of insulin. Insulin is an anabolic hormone usually associated with building various energy molecules in the body (e.g., glycogen and triglycerides). However, research has also shown that insulin plays a very important role in preventing the breakdown of muscle following periods of physical stress. It seems that BCAAs ability to spare glycogen and increase insulin sensitivity may play a role in speeding up the results of a fat loss(of course you have to be already on cutting diet, on any fat loss diet, carbohydrates will need to be lowered to some degree) . When you are on cutting diet the amount of nutrients and overall calorie intake is reduced so the danger of muscle loss is significant but BCAAs is watching our back.


• 150 lbs. or less – 3 grams before, during, and after training. (total – 9gr)
• 151 lbs. or more – 5 grams before, during, and after training. (total – 15gr)
They are many different BCAAs supplements on the market with various ratio between the amount of the 3 aminos i recommend you the 2:1:1 ratio. IT`s preferably to be taken on an empty stomach to avoid competition for absorption with other aminos.


>>>BCAAs in food & protein powder sources:

Most whole food proteins (including protein drinks) are made up of about 15 percent BCAA. The BCAAs in whey are peptide bound to other amino acids and must be liberated through digestion and absorbed into the bloodstream in order to exert their effects. Even though whey protein is relatively fast digesting, it still takes several hours for all of the amino acids to be liberated and absorbed into the bloodstream. Consider that the absorption of food such as meat and eggs(which are abundant of BCAAs) is slower the whey protein powder. Even a few grams of BCAAs will spike plasma levels to a much greater extent than a 30 gram dose of whey protein.



References #1
Walker, D., Dickinson, J., et al. Exercise, Amino Acids, and Aging in the Control of Human Muscle Protein Synthesis. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. May 2011. Published Ahead of Print.
Bajotto, G., Sato, Y., et al. Effect of BCAA Supplementation During Unloading on Regulatory Components of Protein Synthesis in Atrophied Soleus Muscles. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2011. 111, 1815-1828.
Gran, P., Cameron-Smith, D. The Actions of Exogenous Leucine on mTOR Signaling and Amino acid Transporters in Human Myotubes. BMC Physiology. 2011. 11(10).
Norton, L., Layman, D., Wilson, G., Moulton, C., Rupassara, S., Barlick, P. Leucine Contents of Isonitrogenous Protein Sources Predict Changes in Body Composition and Muscle Mass in Rats. The Journal of the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology. 2010 April. 24(97.5).

References #2
Valerio, A., D’Antona, G., et al. BCAAs, Mitochondrial Biogenesis, and Healthspan: An Evolutionary Perspective. Aging. May 2011. 3(5), 464-470.


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