All the facts about BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids) in a row.
BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids) has become popular and is widely marketed by sport nutrition brands. Let us explain how it works and its effects on your body and muscles.
What are BCAAs?
BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids) consist of the three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. Amino acids ig general and these three in particular are the building blocks of protein and are, among other things, important for muscle building.
Leucine, isoleucine and valine make up one third of the total of nine essential amino acids and produce about 70% of the total muscle protein.
The effect of BCAA
Body uses amino acids for the recovery of your muscles after heavy exercise. BCAA is also used when the glycogen reserves are exhausted after you have used a lot of energy. Furthermore, our body itself does not have the enzymes to produce leucine, isoleucine and valine. So the body can only supply BCAA to the muscles through nutrition.
The BCAA play an important role in protein synthesis, the conversion of proteins into muscles. This is an important process to build muscle mass.
What are the effects of sport nutrition with BCAA?
To what extent does it help if you add BCAA as a supplement to your diet? Below is an overview of the most researched effects.
Do you build muscle mass faster with BCAA?
There are conflicting findings as to whether you build more muscle mass with BCAA. This is mainly because a lot of research is not perfectly constructed.
For example, the researchers found that BCAA had more effect on muscle growth than placebo. However, in studies which compared the effect of protein intake and BCAA intake, they found higher effects of protein shakes on muscle growth. Therefore, you may come to a conclusion that eating protein alone is much better than taking BCAA supplements only.
Some studies even suggest that BCAA has no effect on beginners in fitness. In short, your body is a mechanism that follows a certain process that leads to muscle growth. Taking sport nutrition supplements alone does not trigger the muscle growth mechanism.
There are even studies that found that the mechanism in your body is so complex, that you might even lose muscle tissue after training and taking BCAA. This might happen because after training your body struggles to restore energy. If there is no food, it begins to consume its own protein as a source of energy, which is muscle tissue. It is important that after training your body receives sufficient protein and essential amino acids. And these are not just BCAA. The body also uses other essential amino acids to build muscle mass. And when too little of these are present in your blood, the body will then break down muscle proteins. You might think of your body using the muscle tissue from your legs to form extra muscle tissue in your biceps after arms training.
BCAA helps to keep focus and reduce fatigue
Several studies have been carried out on people performing hard work or training and taking BCAA. They all came to a conclusion that BCAA helps to reduce fatigue and keep focus during training. Possibly, BCAA reduces fatigue symptoms by inhibiting tryptophan uptake and increasing serotonin production. These effects can cause a feeling of satisfaction and soothe the sensation of fatigue experienced. Researchers also suspect that taking BCAA before training allows you to continue exercising for longer with an energetic feeling.
BCAA and improving sports performance
It remains questionable whether supplementing with BCAA can improve sports performance. In one study cyclists were given a dose of 90 mg BCAA per kilogram of body weight. There was no significant effect on fatigue measured after the training. Other studies among trained cyclists also showed that BCAA has no influence on the improvement of physical performance.
Reduce muscle soreness
It is proven that BCAA can help to reduce muscle soreness after training. The mechanism is still not fully studied, but the effect of BCAA has been proven scientifically. Several studies show that BCAAs decrease protein breakdown during exercise and decrease levels of creatine kinase, which is an indicator of muscle damage. Therefore you experience less discomfort after hard training and working out with weights.
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