BCAA - What's all the fuss about

BCAA - What's all the fuss about

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TAKEN FROM THE NUTRIXXION UK BLOG:  www.nutrixxion-energy.co.uk/blog

Hopefully by now you will have noticed the logo on the sides of the tubs of Nutrixxion powders, and also gels indicating the presence of BCAA's inside.   However if you, like us weren't paying full attention in science class hopefully we can help you now understand the importance of BCAA's in your sports nutrition suppliments.

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So what are BCAAs?

A branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) is an amino acid.  Among the proteinogenic amino acids, there are three BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine and valine.  They are 3 of the 8 essential amino acids.

Unlike the non essential amino acids that our bodies can produce the essential amino acids must come from an external source.

They are important because they make up approximately 1/3 of the skeletal muscle in the human body.

During prolonged exercise, BCAA’s are taken up by the skeletal muscle rather than the liver in order to contribute to energy production (oxidative metabolism). BCAA’s can become quickly depleted with exhaustive endurance exercise. 

It is therefore important that BCAAs are replaced during and after periods of intensive activity.

11 Great benefits of BCAAs

  • BCAAs enhance muscle protein synthesis for greater muscle growth and maintenance of lean muscle mass during non-training periods such as recovery from injury. 
  • Leucine-enriched BCAAs mixtures enhance muscle building for older trainees who aim to put on muscle1.
  • BCAAs increase fat burning (Leucine) and glucose tolerance (Isoleucine) for a leaner body composition2. During training periods for fat loss, the athlete should increase food and supplements with a high BCAA content.
  • BCAAs improve hormone balance for greater strength, power and endurance by increasing testosterone and decreasing cortisol in addition to reducing inflammation3.
  • BCAAs may improve strength development with training when more than 4g per day of Leucine is consumed, because of effective increases neuromuscular coordination4.
  • BCAAs enhance strength endurance and decrease fatigue, because BCAAs can be burned as energy to replenish ATP (Adenosine Tri-Phosphate) levels, the prime energy molecule in the human body. They also delay fatigue and tiredness by inhibiting Tryptophan receptors in the brain.
  • BCAAs preserve the integrity of muscle fibres. This decreases muscle soreness and allows you to train more frequently helping you to reach your full athletic potential more efficiently and effectively5.
  • BCAAs reduces muscle catabolism (degradation) by protecting lean muscle tissue. This also prevents muscle mass reduction in endurance sports, where BCAA levels in blood plasma can drop significantly6.
  • BCAAs improves insulin health and metabolic rate for an advantageous body composition. Insulin sensitivity may also reduce the risk of diabetes7.
  • BCAAs have anti-ageing properties, because they are used in cancer8 and liver disease treatment strategies9. They increase the formation of new mitochondria and thus reduce age related muscle loss10.
  • BCAAs improve cognition, because of their enhancing effect on neurotransmitters and glutamate synthesis 11, 12.
  1. “Glynn, E., Fry, C., Drummond, M., Timmerman, K., Dhanani, S., Volpi, E., Rasmussen, B. Excess Leucine Intake Enhances Muscle Anabolic Signaling but Not Net Protein Anabolism in Young Men and Women. The Journal of Nutrition. 2010. 140(11), 1970-1976.”
  2. “Sharp, C., Pearson, D. Amino Acid Supplements and Recovery from High-Intensity Resistance Training. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2010. 24(4), 1125-1130”
  3. “Peltier, S., Vincent, L., et al. Effects of Carbohydrates-BCAAs-Caffeine Ingestion on Performance and Neuromuscular Function During a 2-H Treadmill Run. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. December 2011. 8(22)”
  4. “Sharp, C., Pearson, D. Amino Acid Supplements and Recovery from High Intensity Resistance Trainin. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 2010. 140(11), 1970-1976″
  5. “Borgenvik, M., Nordin, M., et al. Alterations in Amino Acid Concentrations in the Plasma and Muscle in Human Subjects during 24 Hour of Simulated Adventure Racing. European Journal of Applied Physiology. 2012″
  6. “Shah, S., Crosslin, D., et al. BCAA Levels are Associated with Improvement in Insulin Resistance with Weight Loss. Diabetologia. February 2012. 55(2), 321-330″
  7. “Hayaishi, S., Chung, H., et al. Oral BCAA Granules Reduce the Incidence of Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Improve Event-Free Survival in Patients with Liver Cirrhosis. Digestive Diseases. 2011. 29(3), 326-332”
  8. “Plauth, M., Schutz, T. BCAAs in Liver Disease: New Aspects of Long Known Phenomena. Current Opinions in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. January 2011. 14(1), 61-66″
  9. “Walker, D., Dickinson, J., et al. Exercise, Amino Acids, and Aging in the Control of Human Muscle Protein Synthesis. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. May 2011. Published Ahead of Print”
  10. “Valerio, A., D’antona, G., at al. BCAAs, Mitochondrial Biogenesis and Healthspan: An Evolutionary Perspective. Ageing. Max 2011. 3(5), 464-470“
  11. “Cole, J., Mitala, C., et al. Dietary BCAAs Ameliorate Injury-Induced Cognitive Impairment. Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences. January 2010. 107(1), 366-371“
  12. Casperson SL et al.: L-Leucine supplementation chronically improves muscle protein synthesis in older adults consuming the RDA for Protein; Clin Nutr. 2012 Feb 20