The Importance of BCAAs
How familiar are you with branched-chain amino acids, also known as BCAAs? Do you know why they're important? Our goal is to educate and inform you of this today.
What are BCAAs?
There are three amino acids classified as branched chain amino acids, Leucine, Iso-Leucine and Valine. These amino acids are building blocks for skeletal muscle and compose approximately 35% of skeletal muscle. Unlike most other amino acids, BCAA gets direct access to the blood stream and bypasses the liver. For this reason, BCAA have a much higher absorption than most other amino acids.
When should I consume BCAAs?
The most important time to consume BCAA is before or during your workout. These provide energy to the body and prevent your body from depleting amino acids from skeletal muscle to be used as energy.
Leucine is considered by most to be the most important BCAA due to the muscle protein synthesis that occurs when leucine is consumed. The leucine activates mTor in the muscle cell and allows the body to utilize more protein for muscle growth.
Valine plays an important role in preventing fatigue during exercise by blocking tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that during exercise increases serotonin levels which can make you feel lethargic and create fatigue. Valine competes with tryptophan entering the brain and doesn't allow as much tryptophan to enter the brain which helps limit serotonin secretion.
The recommended BCAA ratio is a 2:1:1 ratio (2 grams of leucine for 1 gram of iso-leucine and valine). You will often see BCAA ratios at an 8:1:1 or a 10:1:1, but unfortunately the extra leucine during exercise is not benefiting you. With a BCAA blend that contains too high of a leucine content, your valine levels will not be high enough to prevent fatigue