BCAAs have a number of benefits, more than are widely considered than simply preventing muscle tissue breakdown.  They are widely used by athletes and bodybuilders due to its muscle building properties and as a huge aid to recovery.  BCAAs also increases fat utilisation and supports natural muscle building hormone levels, all of which will increase lean muscle mass and decrease body fat.  Specifically BCAAs should be taken around and during the workout so they are readily available to the body.  In this article we will explore the unique properties of BCAAs and the benefits that can be gained from taking them.

BCAAs & Immune Function

BCAA supplementation helps to reverse glutamine loss, which can happen when training at high intensity.  Glutamine is essential for immune function and so it is desireable to keep loss to a minimum.  You cant train when you’re ill and generally you will lose size and strength from your time out.  Say you take a week off, you are a week behind, plus the weeks progress you would have made.  You’re now at least 2 weeks behind, in reality more when you factor in the muscle breakdown.

BCAAs for Fat Burning

Studies have shown that BCAA supplementation can stimulate significant losses of visceral fat.  Visceral fat is found deeper into the body, generally around the organs.  This is obviously a fat that you don’t want to have, as it can impair the function of these organs.  Unlike subcutaneous fat, visceral fat tends to be harder to lose through dieting. One theory into this is that when the body senses high levels of BCAAs, it thinks they are coming from muscle tissue breakdown and burns more fat (as an energy source) to prevent excess breakdown.

BCAAs & Protein Synthesis

BCAAs have been proven to stimulate protein synthesis independently.  This means that taken on their own, BCAAs can actually stimulate muscle tissue being generated, regardless of if you are training or not!  Research into this showed that BCAAs induced an increase in specific muscle building hormones.  All of these are fundamental to building muscle mass.

BCAAs & Muscle Breakdown

BCAAs are best known for the effect they have on muscle tissue breakdown.  They inhibit the body using muscle proteins as an energy source.  BCAAs are unique as they are the only type of amino acid that, once shuttled to a muscle, can be used as fuel instead of muscle tissue.  This is obviously massively important when dieting and the body has less glycogen in its system.  Regardless of dieting, the effect of a decreased breakdown of muscle tissue is increased protein synthesis and therefore more muscle.

BCAAs & Increased Recovery

Supplementation with BCAAs has been shown to decrease DOMs (delayed onset muscle soreness), helping hard training athletes to get back to the gym faster.  Increased recovery means increased gains.  With any hard training you will get exercise induced muscle damage, or micro trauma.  BCAAs will limit this, meaning you can get back to the gym faster and train harder on your return.  Allowing your body to recover better means harder training and more of it creating more results.

Here at TPW we offer both BCAA Powder & BCAA tablets – so you can get them in the form most convenient to you!

References:

  • Bennet WM, Connacher AA, Scrimgeour CM, Smith K and Rennie MJ (1989) ‘Increase in anterior tibialis muscle protein synthesis in healthy man during mixed amino acid infusion: studies of incorporation of leucine.’ Clinical Science, 1989 April;76 (4):447-54
  • Reinaldo A Bassit, Leticia A Sawada, Reury F.P Bacurau, Franciso Navarro, Eivor Martins Jr, Ronaldo V.T Santos, Erico C Caperuto, Patricia Rogeri nad Luis F.B.P Costa Rosa (2002) ‘Branched-chain amino acid supplementation and the immune response of long-distance athletes’ Nutrition, Volume 18, Issue 5, May 2002, Pages 376-379
  • Yoshiharu Shimomura, Taro Murakami, Naoya Nakai, Masaru Nagasaki, and Robert A. Harris (2004) ‘Exercise Promotes BCAA Catabolism: Effects of BCAA Supplementation on Skeletal Muscle during Exercise’ The Journal Of Nutrition, June 1, 2004 vol. 134 no. 6 1583S-1587
  • Eva Blomstrand and Bengt Saltin (2001) ‘BCAA intake affects protein metabolism in muscle after but not during exercise in humans’ American Journal Of Physiology, Endocrinology and Metabolism, August 1, 2001 vol. 281 no. 2 E365-E374
  • Negro M, Giardina S, Marzani B and Marzatico F (2008) ‘Branched-chain amino acid supplementation does not enhance athletic performance but affects muscle recovery and the immune system.’ Journal Of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness , 2008 Sep;48(3):347-51.
  • Bassit RA, Sawada LA, Bacurau RF, Navarro F and Costa Rosa LF (2000) ‘The effect of BCAA supplementation upon the immune response of triathletes.’ Medicine and Science Sports and Exercise. 2000 Jul; 32(7):1214-9
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