Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are the “building blocks” of the body. They make up 35% of your muscle mass and must be present for molecular growth and development to take place. Eight are essential (cannot be manufactured by the body) the rest are non-essential (can be manufactured by the body with proper nutrition). Besides building cells and repairing tissue, they form antibodies, they are part of the enzyme and hormonal system; they build RNA and DNA and they carry oxygen throughout the body. Proteins are made up of amino acids. The difference between full spectrum amino acids and regular protein powders is that protein powders have fillers, sweeteners, dyes and extra carbohydrates. More than 20 amino acids are needed to build muscle, red blood cells, and hundreds of other molecules that sustain life. Your body can produce all but 8-10 amino acids which must be obtained through your diet or supplementation. A complete amino acid profile is needed by your body to reach your maximum fitness potential.
They act as nitrogen carriers which assist the muscles in synthesising other amino acids needed for anabolic muscle action. In simpler terms, BCAA’s combine simpler amino acids to form a complex whole muscle tissue. In this action, BCAAs stimulate production of insulin, the main function of which is to allow circulating blood sugar to be taken up by the muscle cells and used as a source of energy. This insulin production promotes amino acid uptake by the muscle. During intense weight training the body is normally in a highly catabolic condition. At this time glycogen stores are being rapidly depleted and the liver in turn must synthesise glucose by a conversion of L-Alanine. Alanine makes up over half of the amino acid content released from muscles during exercise.
The release of BCAAs is generally recognised as the signal to the body to stop protein syntheses in the muscles, especially during times of stress. Providing the Branch Chain Amino Acids, especially during those times of stress may profoundly affect this signal and allow protein synthesis to continue onward.
With BCAAs 4-8 grams before a workout and 4-8 grams after is optimal. Lesser amounts are effective but if increased performance and recovery are needed a higher dosage is more effective. Taking BCAAs immediately before or during a strenuous workout or cardio session will increase performance.
Taking them after with a post work out meal or recovery drink will help speed the replacement of BCAAs in the muscles, speeding muscle recovery and preventing overtraining. For optimum results in supplement form, it is desirable to take your BCAAs separately from the other amino acid groupings for the fact that they totally dominate the race for entry into the bodies’ systems.
Branched Chain Amino Acids are among the most beneficial and effective supplements in any sports nutrition program. Although these supplements have been around for a long time and the scientific understanding in the exercise performance benefits of BCAA supplementation is rich, many people don’t know exactly how they exert their effects or how vital BCAA supplementation is.
One thing is definitely sure though, that anyone who is looking to put on more muscle or gain more energy naturally without any side effects should very seriously consider taking BCAAs.