BCAA (branched-chain amino acids or branched-chain amino acids) are a fantastic trio made up of the amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. All three are essential amino acids, which means that not only can the body synthesize them from other amino acids, they must necessarily be ingested through food or supplementation.
BCAAs account for 40% of the daily requirement of a total of 9 essential amino acids (the others are: phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, lysine and histidine). In addition, they make up about 35% of muscle tissue.
Of course, they are found in protein-rich foods, most in chicken, beef, salmon, eggs, etc. They are also found in whey proteins.
The importance of BCAA supplementation
As far as supplementation is concerned, it is of particular importance for athletes because the free form of BCAA passes through the liver and the gut and directly enters the bloodstream. This is the reason why people with liver impairment when entering the BCAA supplement have managed to keep the muscle mass.
The BCAAs came on the market in supplementary form before some more advanced supplements, such as creatine, and for a long time did not attach to them the importance they deserve for their qualities. Just recently, they are devoting more research, whose results reveal that BCAA is much more than ordinary building blocks of protein.
When we usually talk about proteins, we primarily mean their building material, not their energy role. However, with the BCAA, their energy role is unavoidable. Unlike other amino acids, BCAAs are metabolized within the muscle, allowing the muscle to use it as energy in the form of ATP during training. There is also a bonus effect, because not only can BCAAs be used as energy, they promote the oxidation (breakdown) of fat in athletes whose glycogen reserves are depleted.
More about BCAA
Another way BCAAs allow an athlete to train longer and more intensely is their effect on glycogen reserves. BCAAs have been shown to “conserve” glycogen and reduce its consumption by up to 25%. This also enables faster recovery after training.
Another beneficial effect that BCAAs have is on anabolic hormones: testosterone, insulin and growth hormone. Normally, testosterone under the influence of intense training increases, but after training there is a fall. However, it has been found that his level remains increased up to several hours after training if the athlete has entered the BCAA before training.
In addition, BCAAs improve testosterone: cortisol and thus contribute to the anabolic environment. Leucine has shown the potential to increase insulin sensitivity, leading to easier resolution of adipose tissue, greater muscle growth and defense against diabetes.
The latest research reveals the abstract, Sci-Fi, or long-distance BCAA activity and its benefits. BCAA (especially leucine) has been found to play the role of a signaling molecule that sends a message to the body: “Build muscle!” and it does so through a specific mechanism.
Specifically, the cell contains the protein molecule mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin or mechanistic target of rapamycin). Leucine has been shown to act as a trigger on its mTORC1 fraction, which activates a complicated metabolic pathway that results in the activation of protein synthesis (= new muscle tissue). Of course, everything works together if physical activity is also present, this should not be mentioned separately.
Leucine, if administered after training at adequate intensity, can increase protein synthesis by up to 145%. Protein synthesis is impaired after 35 years. Therefore, in older age, leucine is an important link in achieving a favorable environment for muscle growth (that is, in this case maintaining and preserving existing muscle tissue).
When to take BCAA
BCAAs are taken before, during and after training. Framework recommendation is 3-5g before, during and after training. Somewhere we will come across a recommendation with multiple values.
For athletes engaged in very intense training, the dose can be calculated using the following formula: (total body weight in kg) – (fat mass in kg) X 0.44 = number of grams of BCAA per day.