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What are BCAAs and What do They do?

Branched Chain Amino Acids or BCAAs are well-studied supplements that are amongst the most popular sports nutrition dietary supplements and, arguably, the best selling amino acid supplement today.

Athlete's take BCAA Supplements to help build muscle, improve muscular recovery, and decrease muscle soreness known as DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness.

BCAA Formulas include powerful features not found in regular BCAA Supplements, like High BCAA Rations, Increased Leucine Dosages and added Electrolytes to Improve Hydration.  

  • What are BCAAs?
  • The Essential Amino Acids
  • Where do BCAAs Come From
  • How do BCAAs Work?
  • Benefits of BCAAs
  • The Best BCAA Ratio

What Are BCAAs?

Branched-chain Amino Acids or BCAAs are small, individual units that become "chained" together and that sometimes have side chains that "branch off". These Amino Units come together to form various chains that eventually create Proteins.

There are many Amino Acids, but there are only 3 BCAAs - Leucine, Valine and Isoleucine.

BCAAs are Essential Amino Acids

All BCAAs are Essential Amino Acids or EAAs, but not all EAAs are BCAAs. There are 9 EAAs and 3 of these Amino Acids are BCAAs - Leucine, Valine, Isoleucine.

The Essential Amino Acids

  • Histidine
  • Isoleucine
  • Leucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Pheynylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine

Why are BCAAs Essential?

EAAs are called "Essential" because your body can't make enough of them to meet its demand or it can't make them on its own at all.

Because of your body's inability to make EAAs on its own, you'll have to make sure to consume enough EAAs to fulfill your needs and achieve your intake goals.

Where do BCAAs Come From?

BCAAs can be found in many foods and it's not too hard to get a lot of BCAAs from your food.

However, food has to be broken down in the gut and then it makes its way through the liver in a time consuming process that's not terribly helpful when you're trying to Fuel Your Workout Now!

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How do BCAAs Work?

BCAAs, ESPECIALLY LEUCINE, ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR STIMULATING MUSCLE GROWTH!

Leucine, the "Star Amino", is actually "by far" the most important BCAA for Stimulating Muscle Growth.

Leucine is most responsible for activating a complex process called mTOR, a process that increases protein synthesis and muscle tissue growth.*[6]

RELATED: Modern Guide to Leucine

SO, HOW EXACTLY DO BCAAS WORK?

Direct Supplementation of individual BCAAs through a High Quality, Leucine Rich BCAA Powder Drink Mix allows these three EAAs to be quickly absorbed due to bypassing both the gut and the liver.

Faster absorption and availability of Amino Acids floods the muscles with the BCAAs You Need When You Need Them!

BCAA Benefits?

Taking a Leucine Heavy BCAA Supplement Can [1-5]

  • INCREASE PROTEIN SYNTHESIS
  • DECREASE MUSCLE BREAKDOWN
  • REDUCE MUSCLE SORENESS

RELATED: BCAA Legend

What is the Best BCAA Ratio?

We already know that Leucine is the Star, but supplementing with just Leucine can lead to a BCAA imbalance that doesn't maximize results making it important to supplement with all 3 BCAAs. [4]

If Leucine is the most important BCAA, but you need to supplement with all 3 BCAAs to Maximize Results, don't you want to get more Leucine than anything else?

For the Best BCAA, look for a BCAA Ratio that includes all three BCAAs, but that is high in leucine, like an 8 1 1 BCAA ratio or a 12 1 1 BCAA ratio.

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References

1. MacLean, D. A., Graham, T. E., & Saltin, B. (1994). Branched-chain amino acids augment ammonia metabolism while attenuating protein breakdown during exercise. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, 267(6), E1010-E1022.
2. Layman, D. K. (2003). The role of leucine in weight loss diets and glucose homeostasis. The Journal of Nutrition, 133(1), 261S-267S.
3. Blomstrand, E., Hassmén, P., Ek, S., Ekblom, B., & Newsholme, E. A. (1997). Influence of ingesting a solution of branched‐chain amino acids on perceived exertion during exercise. Acta Physiologica, 159(1), 41-49.
4. Shimomura, Y., Murakami, T., Nakai, N., Nagasaki, M., & Harris, R. A. (2004). Exercise promotes BCAA catabolism: effects of BCAA supplementation on skeletal muscle during exercise. The Journal of Nutrition, 134(6), 1583S-1587S.
5. Holeček, M. (2002). Relation between glutamine, branched-chain amino acids, and protein metabolism. Nutrition, 18(2), 130-133.
6. Wang, X., & Proud, C. G. (2006). The mTOR pathway in the control of protein synthesis. Physiology, 21(5), 362-369.