Knowledge Bomb: BCAA’s

BCAA’s: WHAT ARE THEY? WHY IS EVERYONE TAKING THEM?

Refueling your body with critical nutrients bcaas in the gymthroughout the day after intense training is essential to protecting gains and keeping your body in an anabolic state. BCAA’s promote muscle growth, recovery, and reduce training related soreness. Basically, BCAA’s have you ready to tackle your next training session with full intensity. But what makes these amino acids so special and why is everyone in the gym drinking them?

The essential amino acids Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine collectively form what is referred to as the Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s). These amino acids are essential because they cannot be produced in the body and must be provided though supplementation or diet. BCAA’s comprise approximately 30% of the total muscle protein pool and are the primary amino acids oxidized in the muscle during exercise and catabolic stress. For these reasons athletes supplement with BCAA’s for the purpose of increasing muscle mass, reducing muscle damage, blunting fatigue, and increasing energy during exercise.

THE PROOF IS IN THE SCIENCE:

Hundreds of studies exist on the ergogenic benefits of BCAA’s. The majority of them show that BCAA’s, whether consumed throughout the day or pre, during, or post-exercise; decrease protein catabolism (breakdown) and support muscle protein synthesis…a physiological process responsible for muscle growth and repair. Furthermore, BCAA’s are vitally important to glucose (energy) production; contributing to greater than 40% of glucose production during sustained endurance exercise.

A study done in 2009 found that subjects who supplemented with BCAA’s while following an 8-week resistance training program had a greater decrease in body fat, an increase in lean mass, and greater strength gains on the bench press and squat compared to the non-BCAA group.

NutraBio solely uses BCAA’s in the researched backed ratio of 2:1:1 (Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine) and they come from plant sources as opposed to animal sources such as feathers or hair.

LEUCINE 

  • Leucine is one of the essential branched chain amino acids (BCAA). By itself it can stimulate muscle protein synthesis; the process responsible for muscle growth and recovery. This is why it is often referred to as the “main” amino acid.
  • Supplementation with at least 2/grams daily leucine has been shown decrease muscle soreness, lessen recovery time between workouts, and increase lean muscle mass.
  • Howatson et al. (2012) discovered that leucine (combined with isoleucine and valine) administered before muscle damaging resistance exercises reduced indices of muscle damage and accelerated recovery in resistance trained males.

ISOLEUCINE

  • Isoleucine, like leucine, is another BCAA that can stimulate muscle protein synthesis, but to a lesser when not combined with the other BCAA’s. However, Isoleucine significantly increases glucose uptake and the usage of glucose during exercise; leading to greater energy production.
  • Isoleucine may also play in role in the fat burning abilities of BCAA’s.
  • Nishimura et al. (2010) found that mice consuming a high fat diet in conjunction with isoleucine gained less fat mass than mice not receiving isoleucine. This was due to isoleucine’s ability to stimulate receptors (PPAR) that inhibit fat storage and increase fat burning.

VALINE

  • Valine, the third BCAA, promotes muscular endurance and decrease fatigue during exercise.
  • When exercising tryptophan is converted to serotonin and signals the brain that the body is fatigued…ultimately leading to a decrease in muscle strength and endurance
  • Since Valine competes with tryptophan for entry into the brain, and prevails, less serotonin gets to the brain; ultimately leading to stronger muscular contractions, quicker recovery between sets, and prolonged muscular strength and endurance.

 

RESEARCH:

  1. Howatson, G., Hoad, M., Goodall, S., Tallent, J., Bell, P. G., & French, D. N. (2012). Exercise-induced muscle damage is reduced in resistance-trained males by branched chain amino acids: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study. J Int Soc Sports Nutr, 9(1), 20.
  2. Nishimura, J., et al. “Isoleucine Prevents the Accumulation of Tissue Triglycerides and Upregulates the Expression of PPAR{alpha} and Uncoupling Protein in Diet-Induced Obese Mice.” J. Nutr., March 2010, in press.
  3. Norton, L. E., & Layman, D. K. (2006). Leucine regulates translation initiation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle after exercise. The Journal of nutrition, 136(2), 533S-537S.
  4. Shimomura, Y., Inaguma, A., Watanabe, S., Yamamoto, Y., Muramatsu, Y., Bajotto, G., … & Mawatari, K. (2010). Branched-chain amino acid supplementation before squat exercise and delayed-onset muscle soreness. International journal of sport nutrition, 20(3), 236.
  5. Nicastro, H., Artioli, G. G., dos Santos Costa, A., Solis, M. Y., Da Luz, C. R., Blachier, F., & Lancha Jr, A. H. (2011). An overview of the therapeutic effects of leucine supplementation on skeletal muscle under atrophic conditions. Amino Acids, 40(2), 287-300.
  6. Gualano, A. B., Bozza, T., Lopes, D. C. P., Roschel, H., Dos Santos, C. A., Luiz, M. M., … & Herbert, L. J. A. (2011). Branched-chain amino acids supplementation enhances exercise capacity and lipid oxidation during endurance exercise after muscle glycogen depletion. The Journal of sports medicine and physical fitness, 51(1), 82-88.
  7. Crowe, M. J., et al. Effects of dietary leucine supplementation on exercise performance. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006 Aug;97(6):664-72.
  8. Mourier, A., et al. Combined effects of caloric restriction and branched-chain amino acid supplementation on body composition and exercise performance in elite wrestlers. Int J Sports Med 1997 Jan;18(1):47-55.
  9. Gomez-Merino, D., et al. Evidence that the branched-chain amino acid L-valine prevents exercise-induced release of 5-HT in rat hippocampus. Int J Sports Med. 2001 Jul;22(5):317-22.
  10. Blomstrand E.A role for branched-chain amino acids in reducing central fatigue. J Nutr. 2006 Feb;136(2):544S-547S.

 

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