The human body needs about 20 amino acids to produce different proteins that have different functions. Nine of these amino acids can only be obtained from the food that we eat. Three of the nine are Leucine, Valine, and Isoleucine. Together, they form what we call “branched-chain amino acids” or BCAA’s. Here’s how they can help.
What Are BCAA’s?
Branched-chain amino acids are known for their ability to promote muscle growth. This is especially true for the amino acid known as Leucine. This amino acid activates a pathway that promotes the more efficient production of muscle proteins. These include actin, myosin, collagen, elastin, myoglobin, and a host of other proteins in the muscles.
Studies reveal that BCAA’s can increase the level of muscle protein production by as much as 22 percent. This is after subjecting the muscles to a resistance workout. It is for this reason that bodybuilders always include BCAA supplements in their regimen. This is especially if they cannot adhere to a high protein diet or they cannot consume high-quality protein supplementation.
Branched-chain amino acids can also help reduce the severity of muscle soreness that often appears one or two days after an intense workout. Exercise physiologists call this delayed-onset muscle soreness. This results from the microscopic injuries that occur in the muscle tissues right after exercise.
Extra BCAA Benefits
In addition to its ability to reduce the severity and duration of muscle soreness, branched-chain amino acids can also play a role in reducing exercise-related fatigue. Muscle tissues utilize BCAA’s and other amino acids during intense physical activities. This reduces the levels of branched-chain amino acids. This triggers an increase in tryptophan in the brain. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is essential in the production of serotonin. This is a feel-good hormone that makes you feel more relaxed. It can also promote sleep. Unfortunately, you may also feel fatigued. Improving the levels of BCAA’s in the body can help prevent the increase in tryptophan levels.
BCAA’s can also help prevent muscle wasting. The human body constantly breaks down muscle proteins in an effort to rebuild the resulting amino acids into stronger proteins. Like all processes in the human body, there should be a net balance between the breakdown of proteins and their production. Unfortunately, if the breakdown of proteins is greater than its production, muscle wasting can result. It can be secondary to malnutrition, cancer, fasting, and chronic infections. The normal process of aging can also lead to muscle wasting.
Supplementing with BCAA’s and other essential amino acids can help slow down the progression of muscle wasting. It can also help prevent the unnecessary breakdown of muscle proteins.
Branched-chain amino acids are part of the nine essential amino acids that the body needs. They work to promote muscle growth and prevent muscle soreness, exercise fatigue, and muscle wasting.