Branched Chain Amino Acids - The Ultimate Guide

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Branched Chain Amino Acids - The Ultimate Guide
Branched chain amino acids or BCAAs are touted by fitness trainers, professional bodybuilders and everyday exercise enthusiasts alike, but supplements that contain them aren't just some fly-by-night fitness trend.

There is plenty of research that suggests that BCAAs are highly beneficial for those aiming to lose weight and build lean muscle. In fact, there is more evidence to support the use of BCAAs in a sports nutrition diet plan than many other types of supplements on the market today.

In case you're not familiar, the amino acids that are commonly referred to as BCAAs are,

  • Leucine

  • Isoleucine

  • Valine

All three are essential amino acids, meaning that your body needs them but can't manufacture them on its own.

As you'll soon discover, BCAAs offer a number of benefits that can help support you as you strive to achieve your fitness goals.


The Catabolic Effects of Dieting

Cutting down calories can help you lose weight, but it can have an unwanted side effect - muscle loss.

When you diet and decrease the amount of protein that you consume in the form of food, your body must compensate for the nutrients in some way. After all, it needs the amino acids in protein to perform important tasks. To get those essential nutrients, your body will break down muscle cells through a process called catabolism.

The bottom line is that while dieting can help you lose weight, it can also mean sacrificing muscle mass. This is exactly what you don't want to happen when you're working out hard at the gym to increase muscle size and strength. Fortunately, branched chain amino acids can provide a solution.

Catabolic Effects of Dieting

BCAAs & Fighting Catabolism

Branched chain amino acids help to decrease muscle loss due to catabolism in a number of ways. BCAAs have been shown in studies to:


1. Increase protein synthesis rates.

BCAAs help your body produce protein from amino acids in foods at a faster rate. This means that your body is less likely to have to go looking for spare proteins in the form of muscle tissue.


2. Support the production of the parts of the cells that manufacture proteins.

BCAAs can actually increase your body's ability to produce proteins. Think of it this way--the nutrients help to build more protein production factories in your cells and help those factories make as much protein as possible in the shortest amount of time.


3. Slow the rate of protein breakdown.

BCAAs interfere with some of the substances that break down proteins and limit the amount of other substances necessary for catabolism that is produced by the body.


Beyond Catabolism

Branched chain amino acids aren't just beneficial because they will help you preserve muscle mass when you're dieting. In addition, research indicates that BCAAs can help keep you energized during workouts, so that you can continue exercising longer with less fatigue.


How do BCAAs help me exercise longer?

Well, BCAAs have been shown to reduce the amount of the amino acid tryptophan that enters your brain. Tryptophan is a raw material needed to produce the brain chemical serotonin.

Studies show that when serotonin levels increase, you're more likely to feel fatigued. BCAAs may therefore have the ability to limit serotonin production to improve endurance.


Whey Versus BCAAs

BCAA supplements tend to be more expensive than your average whey protein powder, and because whey supplies small doses of all of the amino acids, many people try to simply increase their whey intake in order to consume more BCAAs. While it may seem logical, science shows that whey isn't an acceptable substitute for standalone BCAA supplements.

When you take a whey supplement, your body must first break down the protein into its raw materials. It can take hours for the BCAAs found in a protein powder to actually get to work promoting protein synthesis and slowing protein breakdown.

In a BCAA supplement, the branched chain amino acids are already in a raw, usable form. After taking the supplement, the BCAA levels in your blood stream quickly rise, allowing them to have a much more profound effect on the body. The supplement doesn't even have to be processed by the liver; it will be released into the bloodstream rapidly.


The Takeaway

The most recent research indicates that individuals who are dieting and taking branched chain amino acids experience better muscle retention than those who don't and lose more body fat.

  • - Increased muscle retention

  • - Lose more bodyfat

  • - Quick delivery system

  • - Improved endurance

Sportsfuel carries a wide range of BCAA supplements with options that are ideal for any diet. If you'd like assistance choosing the right branched chain amino acid for your unique needs, feel free to contact us for assistance.

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