Proteins comprise a significant percentage of body structures in all living organisms on Earth. Proteins make up various structures of the human body, from the smallest like hair and nails to the more complex ones like muscles. Proteins are made of sequences of molecules known as amino acids. Amino acids are divided into two groups: non-essential amino acids, which the body is able to synthesize and essential amino acids, which the body has to obtain from dietary sources since we cannot make them naturally.
BCAAS is one of the nine groups of essential proteins in humans that make up to 35% of the amino acids required for the synthesis of muscle proteins. BCAAs refer to Branched Amino Acids, that is a group of amino acids comprising of Leucine, Valine and Isoleucine in the ratio of 2:1:1 respectively. They are called branched as they are the only amino acids with a branched side chain. BCAAs are essential in the body as they help stimulate the synthesis of protein in muscle, act as an energy source and also reduce muscle protein breakdown.
So how do BCAAs do it? The activity of BCAAs 2:1:1 and protein synthesis depends primarily on Leucine. Leucine is a vital component of the muscle protein synthesis process and works by enhancing anabolic signaling through directly or indirectly (via insulin) activating a protein known as Target of Rapamycin (TOR). The TOR pathway once activated by dietary Leucine induces the synthesis of muscle proteins. Isoleucine increases the body’s ability to uptake glucose, which, when broken down acts as a source of energy.
Exercise leads to a decline in serum levels, causing an influx of the amino acid tryptophan into the brain and a subsequent increase in serotonin levels. According to scientists, the upsurge of serotonin levels is thought to cause fatigue. BCAAs reduce fatigue and improve performance through preventing serum decline and consequently reducing serotonin levels. Although the ability of BCAAs to enhance performance is contested by some groups of scientists, their ability to reduce muscle breakdown is an accepted fact among medics and scientists alike.
When metabolized, BCAA protein supplements promote anabolic hormone profile that causes muscle repairs after intense workouts. Scientific studies show that taking BCAA supplements recovers peripheral blood mononuclear cell proliferation in addition to producing plasma glutamine concentration after an exercise. Scientists also believe that the ingestion of BCAA supplements after exercise suppresses the proteins involved in muscle atrophy or breakdown. Subsequently, athletes and sports people who take BCAAs do not experience much of the post-workout soreness associated with muscle wastage and repair.
Consequently, Branched Amino Acids have numerous applications in medicine and sports science. They are used to treat slow muscle wasting and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis among others. Most importantly, BCAAs are used in sports nutrition to develop mass, especially when on a calorie deficit diet. In addition, they help with muscle building and repair, enhance performance and reduce fatigue. It is important to note that the metabolism of Branched Chain Amino Acids takes place in the skeletal muscles, a contrast to other amino acids whose breakdown occurs in the liver. Hence, metabolism of BCAAs is quick and efficient, a characteristic that favors anyone in an intense exercise program.Read More →