BCAA’s for Improved Performance

Amino acids are the building blocks of the proteins that are found in our bodies. The human body can produce 10 of its 20 amino acids, but the other 10, which are called essential amino acids, can only be obtained by eating the right foods. When the body doesn’t get enough of these essential compounds, it will begin to break down its proteins in search of the nutrients it needs.  Amino acids are essential to life, have a role in metabolism, and are important in nutrition.  About 75 percent of the human body is made up of chains of amino acids, which is why they are so vital to how your system functions. All the chemical reactions that occur in the body depend on amino acids and the proteins they build.

BCAAs are among the nine essential amino acids that the body is unable to make, meaning that they must be ingested through food or supplements.  They are the three essential amino acids needed for protein synthesis: leucine, isoleucine and valine. These amino acids make up one third of muscle in the body.  Red meat has the highest concentration of BCAAs.  Dairy also contains high amounts of BCAAs as well as whey protein (whey is separated from milk in the process of making cheese). Additionally you can ingest BCAAs either in pill or powder form as a supplement.

Supplementing with BCAAs has been proven to be one of the simplest strategies for getting the best results from hard training for several reasons:

BCAAs help control hunger, cravings and energy due to their ability to generate glutamine and alanine, which has a balancing effect on blood sugar.
BCAAs support muscle growth and fat loss due to its ability to create an anabolic environment in the body.  Along these lines, BCAAs will help minimize muscle loss and fat gain during a period of rest or injury.
Higher BCAA levels correlate with a leaner body composition due to an increase in the body’s energy expenditure and improved glucose tolerance.
BCAAs minimize the cortisol response that comes from the stress of exercise.  Also when taken in conjunction with resistance training will produce higher testosterone levels.  This ratio improves recovery and lean muscle development.
BCAAs taken throughout the day will decrease muscle soreness and enhance strength gains from training.  BCAA’s also improve performance in endurance athletes as well as lifters.
BCAAs have also been shown to improve mood and decrease depression by improving the production of the neurotransmitters glutamate and GABA as well as increasing serotonin synthesis.
In summary, whether you are a lifter, endurance athlete, or individual who has a hard time eating enough supplemental protein, BCAAs can be a great addition to your training.

Reference: Charles Poliquin, The Benefits of BCAAs

Jade Teta ND CSCS & Keoni Teta ND, Lac, CSCS, The Science of BCAA Supplements