If you were to ask a bunch of fitness
enthusiast what one “must have” supplement would they place in their nutritional regiment, you would not only
probably end up with a list a mile long but also varied just as much. I still think the two topping the list would be good
old protein and Creatine. While you can make a strong argument for Creatine, I would not have protein on the list. You’re
probably thinking “What????” right now. No I see whey protein as more of a nutritional main stay rather then a
supplemental aide. Any fitness enthusiast will tell you how important protein is to a fitness regiment. Whether you’re
trying to add muscle, lose fat, improve for a sport, or just improve your general health protein plays a major role in all
of these actions. Now even though I just explained how important protein is to the body, it does not end there for me. I would
go beyond just generalizing protein and say a specific type of protein. I would have to say branch chained amino acids. If
proteins are the soldiers you need in your battle for muscle then branch chain amino acids are your “Captain America”
What are branch chain amino acids?
Branch chain amino acids are comprised of three amino acids. They are
L- Leucine, L-Valine, and L-Isoleucine. The term “branch chain” simply refers to the chemical structure of the
amino acids. The three of these are also essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are amino acids that need to be obtained
thru eating foods. Branch chain amino acids make up more than 1/3 of essential amino acids in muscle protein. They also make
up about 41% of the performed amino acids used by mammals.
What are the benefits of branch chain amino acids?
Branch chain amino acids have a variety of benefits for the body. Here
are some of the benefits based on just a few fitness goals.
Since branch chain amino acids make up a little over 1/3 of muscle
protein, kind of makes sense to use bcaa’s when trying to add muscle. One of the biggest benefits bcaa’s (branch
chain amino acids) provide when trying to add muscle is they increase protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is the process
when cells begin to build protein. The faster this happens, the quicker you begin to see results. When branch chain amino
acids are taken, they seem to help speed up this process.
Branch chain amino acids do a great job at preventing muscle tissue
breakdown. When the body is under stress like low calorie situations it is much easier for the body to want to break down
muscle tissue instead of stubborn fat. By holding on to your muscle while dieting, this will improve you structurally. Branch
chain amino acids also run the unique ability to be energy providers. Most amino acids have to go thru a process of being
broken down, passing thru the intestines, and finally broken down by the liver before they can be used for energy. Branch
chain amino acids can bypass this and be metabolized in muscle tissue. This is especially helpful on a low carb or low calorie
Not just from a fitness standpoint but in general, protein is very
important to the human body. Let’s say you are on a very restrictive diet, be it for contest prep, health reasons, or
maybe a vegetarian lifestyle. Sometimes these diets can limit your intake of certain amino acids. Branch chain amino acids
will surely improve your intake of the essential amino acids.
Branch chain amino acids are jems for bodily repair. To get bigger stronger muscles you have to train hard. Training hard however breaks down muscle tissue.
Branch chains not only help maintain muscle tissue but aid in the repair after muscle tissue breakdown. Branch chain amino
acids have also been shown helpful in the repair of tendons, injury, chronic illness, and some surgeries.
One study suggested that patience given a branch chain amino acid solution
during recovery remained in a positive nitrogen balance as opposed to a group that was not given the branch chain amino acid
solution. For the group remaining in the positive nitrogen balance, this was an indication of little to no muscle tissue loss.
What is the suggested dosage of Branch chain amino acids?
While there is no standard dosage per say, a good rule of thumb is
2-7 grams for women and 5-10 grams for males broken in two divided doses. You
could also take more or less based on your nutritional needs but if your not sure consulta knowledgeable person first. You
also want to make sure your taking them in a ratio of 2-1-1 equilibrium. That would be 2 parts leucine,1 part isoleucine,
and 1 parts valine. If you were taking five grams the ratio would be something like this:
2.5 grams of leucine
1.5 grams of isoleucine
1.5 grams of valine
You could buy your branch chain amino acids separate, but most come
in pill or powder form already in the ratio that is best for optimum use.
If you really want to try a supplement that gives you a lot of nutritional
bang for your buck then maybe you should give branch chain amino acids a try. Not only are they essential amino acids that
your body needs to get from an outside source, but they provide benefits that go way beyond your normal scoop of protein powder.
So next time your thinking of a “must have” supplement make sure branch chain amino acids are on that list.