Amino Acid Manifesto Series
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, which are the building block of muscle.
We’re going to talk about branched chain amino acids – also known as BCAAs. BCAAs are part of the 9 essential amino acids, but these 3 guys metabolize in muscle tissue rather than the liver, so they certainly aid in muscular development quite nicely.
First, let me start off by saying that not only are BCAAs essential to human health, but they are also amazing for muscle growth, and ALSO sparing you from catabolic effects when on a calorie restricted diet, as this article from BodyBuilding.com will tell you.
Dieting down will get you shredded, but it might also shave some size from your biceps. BCAAs can help protect your muscles against the catabolic effects of dieting!
What Are the 3 BCAAs?
BCAAs kind of fell off in the bodybuilding world, but have recently made a strong resurgence! As of late, there has been extensive research done on BCAAs. Let’s see what all the hype is about…
In recent years, branched chain amino acid supplements have come back into ‘vogue’ in the bodybuilding and fitness community, and with good reason. There’s more research that supports the use of BCAAs than most other supplements on the market!
3 Great Benefits of BCAA Supplements
First on the list are your big, bulgy muscles. BCAAs are one of the key ingredients in preventing muscle catabolism, which, in layman’s terms, means muscle breakdown. Breakdown that leads to … small muscles! Ewww God No!!
Dieting is catabolic, which means it can lead to muscle breakdown, for several reasons. The leaner a body gets, the more likely it is to lose muscle mass as the body tries harder and harder to hold onto body fat stores. In doing so, the body will turn to muscle to satisfy its energy needs. Bad news bears for anyone interested in a hard body.
What else? Glad you asked! BCAAs happen to be a great stimulator of protein synthesis as well.
How do you defend against this three-headed monster of muscle loss? Attack all three heads!
It’s well established that branched chain amino acids (particularly leucine) stimulate protein synthesis, and might do so to a greater extent than a normal protein on its own.
Oh we ain’t done yet peeps. Research has also shown that BCCAs help to increase workout intensity. Increased workout intensity is good. Real good!
BCAAs have even more positive benefits than reduced breakdown and increased protein synthesis. They might also help improve workout intensity! BCAAs compete with the amino acid Tryptophan for entry into the brain, where Tryptophan can be converted to the neurotransmitter serotonin.
During exercise, serotonin levels rise and can (amongst other things) increase the perception of fatigue — that means a less intense workout for you.
BCAA supplementation reduces the amount of Tryptophan that enters the brain, and therefore reduces the amount of serotonin produced. This might allow you to work harder, longer.
How Should I Supplement with BCCAs?
BCAAs are naturally occurring in whey protein. When you go out and buy your protein powders, look on the back of the ingredient label to see how many grams of BCAAs you will be getting with each serving.
You can also supplement with BCAA supplements. There are many different brands of BCAAs, each with different ratios of leucine-isoleucine-valine dosage.
How much are you supposed to take? We can’t answer that, yet. Different research shows different numbers and variables. Guess-and-check will certainly need to be utilized for every unique person.
The bottom line is this – BCAAs help to maximize fat loss and increase muscle retention much more so than not supplementing with BCAAs.
Go over to this BCAA article on BodyBuilding.com, and read more in depth about it, and you are sure to go and get a good BCAA supp to add into your supplement cupboard!