What Are Amino Acids?

in Sportsfuel Articles and Blog
What Are Amino Acids?
If there is a single supplement that can help increase your muscle mass and strength, it's the amino acids of leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These specific amino acids have a fork in their structure, making them look like a branch, and giving them their name of branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs. These BCAAs support muscle growth and have many additional benefits.

BCAAs not only help you recover better after a workout, but they also allow you to work out longer. Unlike other amino acids that are broken down by the liver, BCAAs are spared by the liver and can be transported directly to the muscles for fuel or to help with muscle repair. BCAAs taken before and during workouts act as fuel, and BCAAs taken after workouts act to repair muscle damage.

When it comes to increasing muscle size, BCAAs directly stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Most other amino acids only act as building blocks, but BCAAs also boost insulin synthesis, which helps increase protein production to help with building muscles and recovery. BCAAs also boost human growth hormone (HGH) levels according to an Italian study. Higher levels of HGH lead to greater increases in muscle strength and size.

BCAAs affect more that just muscles during workouts. During exercise, tryptophan levels increase in the brain and signal that the body is tired. This causes a decrease in muscle strength and endurance. BCAAs, especially valine, compete with tryptophan in the brain and can help delay fatigue, both mental and physical.

In addition to helping build muscle, BCAAs can also help with fat loss. Studies have shown that athletes supplementing their protein intake with BCAAs tend to lose significantly more body fat than those without. Much of this fat loss is around the waste. The most likely cause of this is the increased protein synthesis caused by BCAAs, which causes increased energy expenditure for the body. Leucine has also been shown to be a hunger suppressant, so you can eat less and burn more calories. Isoleucine has also been shown to increase fat burning capabilities in mice while inhibiting fat storage.

To take BCAAs, aim for five to ten grams per serving. Take it with a pre and post workout shake for optimal results, in most cases amino acids are already included in most pre or post workout supplements, check the label to be sure. If you are trying to build muscle, take an additional dose before going to bed and again first thing in the morning. You can also take a dose any time during the day when you need a boost of physical or mental energy.

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