Branched Chain Amino Acids – The key to lean muscle
What are Amino Acids?
You are probably asking yourself “What are Branched Chain Amino Acids?!”, while they may sound like something out of Star Trek, they are a fundamental element of any fitness journey. Amino Acids are the building blocks of peptides and polypeptides (protein), the core of lean muscle tissue. Around 75% of our bodies are composed of amino acids based chains. Our bodies can produce 10 of the 20 amino acids that it requires, the other 10 must be absorbed through diet and supplementation. But what exactly are BCAAs, and what do BCAAs do??
What are BCAAs?
Of the 10 amino acids that must be ingested, there are 3 of special importance, the ‘branched chain’ amino acids; Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. These three BCAAs are metabolized directly in the muscle, rather than in the liver. This means BCAAs have a high bioavailability, the muscle can quickly utilise the amino acid as fuel to produce immediate energy or efficiently create new muscle cells.
What Do BCAAs Do?
Prevention of muscle loss
When you put your body under intense load, such as a weight lifting session, our body becomes desperate for quick release energy. One of the sources of such energy is muscle tissue. Yes, you read correctly, while you are slogging it out at the gym you may be wasting away your muscles. The consumption of 2 grams of BCAA before, and directly after a workout will prevent this from occurring, as the body will first consume the energy in the BCAA.
Muscle growth with Anabolic Hormones
Anabolic Hormones such as testosterone, insulin and human growth hormone (HGH), play perhaps the single most important role in promoting muscle growth. They give you the ‘genetic’ advantage, that often separates the pros from the amateurs. The consumption of BCAAs has been proven to boost the levels of these hormones during and for hours after a training session.
Recent research has shown that BCAAs can have a positive effect on fat loss. BCAAs increase your sensitivity to insulin and help spare your usage of glycogen. This has the same effect as lowering your carbohydrate consumption, which as we all know, is a great method to lose fat, and lean up.
Buying and Taking BCAAs
For best results it is recommended to consume 2 grams of BCAAs before, and directly after training. I use and recommend Optimum Nutrition BCAA tablets. They have the perfect blend of Leucine, isoleucine, and valine in a 2:1:1 ratio, and come in an easy to swallow capsule form.