The Key to Protein Synthesis
- Enhances muscle recovery and repair post-workout
- Helps control blood sugar and insulin
- Promotes the use of glucose rather than proteins for energy
- Promotes muscle maintenance even without exercise
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) are a group of essential amino acids that includes L-leucine, L-isoleucine and L-valine. Studies have shown that these amino acids are involved in protein synthesis.
Serving Size: 1 scoop (5 g)
- L-Leucine 2500 mg
- L-Isoleucine 1250 mg
- L-Valine 1250 mg
Key Features: Optimal proportions of BCAAs Convenient powder form
Dosage: Take 1 scoop (5 g) mixed with water or juice daily before a meal, or as directed by a qualified health care practitioner.
Cautions: Do not use if pregnant or nursing. Consult a health care practitioner for use beyond 90 days, if you have liver or kidney disease, or if you have been instructed to follow a low protein diet.
- Muscle recovery and repair Blood sugar control
Source: Pharmaceutical synthesis
Complementary Products: Advanced Whey, Astaxanthin Ultra, Advanced B Complex
What are Branched Chain Amino Acids?
Essential amino acids must be obtained through the diet; they cannot be made in the body. Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) are the most abundant of the essential amino acids. The BCAA category includes three amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine.
The Importance of BCAAs
BCAAs are known to be involved in protein synthesis. BCAAs are unique in that they are metabolized mainly in the muscle, and more specifically in the mitochondria, while most other amino acids are metabolized in the liver. BCAAs make up over a third of essential amino acids in body proteins and about one sixth of the total amino acids in muscle proteins. Since muscle mass makes up about 40% of human body weight, BCAAs play a large role in the human body.
Not Just For Athletes
Research has shown that ingesting BCAAs prior to exercise may inhibit protein breakdown during exercise and optimize protein synthesis postexercise. BCAAs may also preserve muscle in people in weakened conditions, help control blood sugar and insulin, and may even help balance mood.
What do BCAAs do?
Leucine, in particular, is the most studied of the three BCAAs since it signals the synthesis of protein and glycogen in the muscle (anabolism, or building), and it also appears to modulate the secretion of insulin or its actions on muscle cells. Glycogen is a quick energy supply for working muscles. In terms of protein anabolism, the importance of leucine is demonstrated by the fact that when all amino acids are supplemented except leucine, protein synthesis decreases by 40%!
Isoleucine exerts a hypoglycemic effect that has been observed in humans. It stimulates glucose uptake into the cells and may inhibit glucose synthesis in the liver. This is good news for those with diabetes! Isoleucine also appears to signal glucose usage (catabolism, or breakdown) for energy production in order to spare glycogen and protein from being used to produce energy. This helps to maintain muscle mass and basal fuel levels that help with general muscle function.
Valine may be used to help make glycogen in the liver, thus raising blood glucose levels. Animal studies suggest that valine may enhance fat metabolism.
BCAAs and Insulin
Clinical studies have found encouraging results for the use of BCAAs in insulin and blood sugar regulation. In liver cancer patients, 12g BCAAs were administered with an ACE inhibitor for 48 months. After 3 months, insulin resistance and angiogenesis were both reduced.
In untrained males, one study administered a drink containing BCAAs, arginine and carbs after a single bout of exhaustive exercise. Glucose and insulin were higher in the test group at 40 and 60 minutes post exercise. Testosterone to cortisol ratio was higher at 120 minutes in the test group, indicating anabolism. Fatigue at 120 mins post-exercise was significantly reduced in the test group.
BCAAs Stimulate Protein Synthesis – even without exercise!
Exercise is well known to stimulate protein synthesis and therefore muscle growth. An exciting discovery is that branched chain amino acids can also stimulate protein synthesis, even without exercise! This is good news for people in weakened conditions that require muscle maintenance, such as the elderly, the ill or bedridden, cancer patients, etc. Exercise and BCAAs can stimulate some of the same enzymes; however, BCAAs can also potentiate the activity of the enzymes activated by exercise as well as activate other enzymes that are not stimulated by exercise. One study found that leg exercise, when accompanied by BCAA supplementation, activated the enzyme thought to stimulate protein synthesis up to 30-fold in exercising muscle and up to 16-fold even in muscles that were not exercising!
Muscle Preservation and Repair in Strength and Endurance
BCAAs have also showed beneficial effects in strength training, including reducing muscle soreness and fatigue and assisting in strength gains, as well as in endurance. One study showed that consuming a BCAA drink 15 minutes prior to performing repetitive squat exercises shortened the period of peak muscle soreness and lowered the intensity of muscle pain and fatigue for 4 days after exercise. Another study administered 4g of leucine per day during a 12-wk strength training program in untrained males and found that the test group experienced greater strength gains.
BCAAs may also be helpful in post-exercise recovery in endurance athletes, better preparing them for a good subsequent performance. One study administered a leucine-rich protein and carbohydrate-rich drink to trained endurance cyclists and found a small improvement in a subsequent bout of high-intensity cycling and reduced overall fatigue, possibly indicating reduced muscle damage or faster muscle repair.
Since BCAAs seem to have some central effects related to fatigue and mood, one study examined manic patients and found that BCAA supplementation helped control manic episodes.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.