The Benefits of BCAAs

When it comes to maintaining and building muscle, Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s), offer a competitive advantage!  Although they are popular with athletes, BCAA’s offer opportunity to accelerate results, improve body composition, and support recovery for anyone looking to maximize their workouts.

Muscles require protein to grow and all proteins are composed of just twenty different amino acids. Like the individual pearls on a necklace, amino acids link together to form a protein.  Most of these amino acids your body is able to make and are called “non-essential” amino acids.

Conversely, amino acids that cannot be synthesized by your body are called “essential” amino acids.  Of these essential amino acids, three of them stand above the rest as most important for muscle recovery and growth. These three are leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

These three are known as Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s) because their structure contains a branched chain. Although this may sound like an obvious answer, their branched chain is what sets them apart from the other essential amino acids.

Typically amino acids travel to the liver where they are either used as fuel, or the liver directs them to muscle to build and repair muscle tissue.  Unlike other amino acids, BCAA’s by-pass the liver and are instead directly available to the working muscles to be used as fuel, stimulate protein synthesis, reduce muscle breakdown, and aid recovery.  In addition, there is evidence to suggests that BCAA’s also help decrease exercise induced fatigue in the brain.

BCAA’s can be found in a number of different sources, including:

  • Animal proteins (chicken, fish, turkey, beef, etc.)
  • Nuts, beans, legumes, etc.
  • Eggs
  • Supplements including Complete Nutrition’s VCore Protein & GSN Post Workout

Given BCAA can act as a fuel source during workouts and assist in recovery after a workout, there is support for taking them both prior to, during, and especially after workouts.  As a general rule, you should aim to consume 5-10 grams per dose.

BCAA’s offer a host of benefits including improved athletic performance, a lean body composition, and greater strength gains.  Since your body cannot manufacture them, they must be supplied through your diet.  If you are looking to develop a stronger body, consider BCAA’s!

Sarah Mattison Berndt, MS, RD, CD
Owner Fit Fresh Cuisine & Hybrid Athletic Club

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