Amino Acids are the building blocks to protein, we cannot stress enough the important role amino acids play in recovery, building muscle and losing fat. Although each Amino Acid & BCAA play a unique role in the human body most functions can be summed up by the following:
Amino Acid type:
Stimulant based- Typically lower in ratio and usually spiked with an energy system to allow great focus during your workout. Non-stimulant based- Generally speaking a recovery system, most users drink whilst training to start the recovery process early.
BCAAs refer to the Branch Chain Amino Acids as individual compounds. Weather they play a role in protein synthesis, weight loss support or energy systems, these are vital.
BCAA’s have been popular in the body building world for decades but in recent years have become increasingly popular amongst the wider athletic population. The three branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine) are also essential amino acids as they cannot be synthesised by the body and must be obtained from dietary sources. BCAA’s have a unique characteristic in that they can be metabolised in skeletal muscle (other essential amino acids are metabolised via the liver).
BCAA’s and Performance
BCAA’s have been proposed to benefit performance in several ways including as a stimulant for muscle protein synthesis (through leucine). BCAAs may also prevent muscle protein breakdown and reduce markers of exercise induced muscle damage. There is also some research suggesting that BCCA’s have the potential to act as a fuel source for muscles during exercise, although the research surrounding this is inconclusive. Lastly, BCAA’s may interfere with the transport of tryptophan into the brain, reducing the synthesis of serotonin thereby reducing feelings of fatigue.
Athletes benefit from BCAA supplements
Questions still remain regarding the benefit of BCAA supplementation over whole protein supplementation – food or protein powders – or carbohydrate intake (from a fuelling and fatigue perspective). However, athletes on a tight energy budget may be a good candidate for supplementation with BCAA’s as they can help to promote muscle protein synthesis and minimise muscle protein breakdown without a substantial calorie load.
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