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BCAA (branched chain amino acids)

 

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BCAA Information & Product List

BCAA (branched chain amino acids) fact sheet and information page. This page contains everything you need to know about BCAAs! At the bottom of the page you’ll find a complete list of discounted BCAA products.

What are BCAAs?

BCAAs (branched chain amino acids) are the essential aminos leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The combination of these three amino acids makes up approximately 1/3 of skeletal muscle tissue in the human body. BCAAs play a very important role in protein synthesis (the production of proteins in cells from amino acids to build muscle).

What do BCAAs do?

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. When you eat food containing protein, it gets digested through the intestines and stomach. During this process the protein is broken down into individual amino acids and short chains of amino acids. These amino acids are small enough to be absorbed into the bloodstream.

Once the amino acids are absorbed into the bloodstream they have far reaching effects across the entire body. Amino acids are involved in muscle repair (lean muscle building), essential brain functions and even hair growth just to name a few.

What is a metabolic pathway?

To understand just how important BCAAs are to muscle building and recovery you need to know what a metabolic pathway is. Put simply, a metabolic pathway is a chain of chemical reactions that takes place within a cell (in this case, a muscle tissue cell). When adequate amounts of BCAAs are ingested they create their own metabolic pathway which results in increased protein production. This means more muscle tissue will be grown and muscles will be repaired faster.

BCAAs and muscle growth.

Generally, after a session of resistance training the body is in a catabolic (the breaking down of muscle tissue) state, with a protein synthesis deficit. This is because post exercise the MAPK signaling pathway (the body’s own way to signal muscle growth) is activated. While this is a pathway that will increase protein synthesis, it is not as effective as when combined with the BCAA signaling cascade.

The two pathways act independent of each other. Because of this, when adequate amounts of BCAAs are ingested post workout (usually in the form of a post-workout drink) the body is placed in a greater state of hypertrophy with a positive amount of protein synthesis. This is extremely important for athletes because it will decrease recovery time as it increases the rate at which lean body mass is gained.

Difference between essential and non-essential amino acids.

Types Of Amino Acids
Essential:
Histidine
Isoleucine
Leucine
Lysine
Methionine
Phenylalanine
Tryptophan
Valine
Non-Essential:
Alanine
Arginine
Aspartic acid
Cysteine
Cystine
Glutamic acid
Glutamine
Glycine
Hydroxyproline
Proline
Serine
Tyrosine

Essential amino acids cannot be made by the body. You must get them from complete protein foods or combinations of incomplete vegetable foods. See table on the right for list of essential aminos. Your body can make non-essential amino acids by itself from vitamins and other amino acids.

The term “non-essential” can be misleading since all amino acids are essential for proper metabolism. There are some non-essential amino acids, such as¬†glutamine, that are very essential in the process of muscle tissue repair. The 13 non-essential amino acids are listed in the table on the right.

The essential BCAAs are of special importance for athletes because they are metabolized in the muscle, rather than in the liver. This means they are more likely to be used to build muscle rather than burned as fuel for energy.

BCAAs – COMMON QUESTIONS:

  • Are BCAA supplements safe to use?
    Studies have shown that supplemental intake of the BCAAs in the range of 5-20 grams per day in tablet form and 1 to 7 grams per litre in liquid form with no adverse side effects. Higher intakes should be avoided due to the possibility of competitive inhibition of the absorption of other amino acids from the diet and the risk of gastrointestinal distress.
  • Are BCAAs found in food?
    Yes. BCAAs are found in protein-rich foods. The higher the quality of the protein source, the higher amount of BCAAs. Out of all the protein sources whey protein has the best BCAA content.
  • How are BCAA supplements taken?
    The most common form of BCAA supplements are pills. These pills are taken at staggered intervals throughout the day. BCAAs are also available in powder and liquid form.
  • My protein supplement contains Glutamine, do I need more?
    Studies have shown that Glutamine plays a major role in protein synthesis and muscle repair. All whey protein supplements contain a small amount of Glutamine. Recommended dosages range from 10-40 grams per day, depending on activity, fitness and bodyweight. For more information see the glutamine information page.

 

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