BCAAs are an extremely popular supplement for those wanting to loose fat, preserve lean muscle and enhance their workouts. Most BCAA supplements contain the three amino acids Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine which are all essential amino acids, meaning they cannot be made in the body and must be obtained by food.
BCAAs help to stimulate protein synthesis and reduce protein breakdown in the body, while also enhancing the body’s cells capacity for this protein building. This alongside the reduction in protein breakdown, which can often result from weight loss attempts, may aid in muscle gain and preservation. This means that BCAAs may help you lose fat AND build lean muscle.
BCAAs may also increase your performance at the gym in two ways. Firstly, because BCAAs do not have to be digested by the body and instead go straight to the blood stream. Valine and Isoleucine particularly, can be converted into glucose for immediate energy, enhancing the endurance and intensity of your workout. Secondly BCAAs can have an effect upon neurotransmission. The amino acids can compete with another amino acid called Tryptophan. Tryptophan is a precursor to the happy brain chemical; Serotonin. Serotonin levels may naturally increase during exercise, however this can bring on fatigue and may result in a shorter gym session. BCAAs can compete with Tryptophan in the brain, reducing this pathway and therefore reducing serotonin and fatigue.
BCAAs are naturally found in protein rich foods including whey protein shakes. Many people think that because they are having a protein shake or two a day that they do not need to think about BCAAs. However the amino acids in whey are bound by peptides and therefore need to go through the process of digestion and absorption before they enter the bloodstream. Don’t get me wrong, whey is a relatively fast digesting protein, but like all nutrients, they need to be digested and this takes time! A free form BCAA supplement on the other hand is absorbed immediately and therefore instantly impacts protein synthesis and exercise performance.
So if your goals are to lose fat, build and preserve muscle and increase you performance then BCAA supplementation could be just what you are looking for!
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