What is BCAA?
Branched-chain amino acids consist of three essential amino acids; Leucine (Leucine), Isoleucine (Isoleucine) and Valin (Valine). The reason why these amino acids are called essential amino acids is that the body cannot produce these amino acids from other amino acids. Therefore, they must be taken from the outside with the diet.
While they make up the largest part of the body's essential amino acid pool (35-40%), they are also found in high levels (14-18%) in muscle tissue. The content of branched-chain amino acids in the free amino acid pool is low compared to that in body stores (0.1 grams per kilo or 0.6-1.2 mmol per kilo of muscle tissue). The fasting serum concentrations of branched-chain amino acids are approximately 0.3-0.4 mm (they are quite high compared to other amino acids except for glutamine).
Branched-chain amino acids are found in foods containing animal protein. Foods in which they have the highest concentration; chicken, beef, salmon, egg and whey protein. Branched-chain amino acids can also be taken from outside. The supplement method may be more useful for athletes because free forms of branched-chain amino acids bypass the liver and intestinal tissue and directly enter the bloodstream.
As their name suggests, branched-chain amino acids have side chains. This facilitates the conversion of every amino acid to energy in the urgent need of energy. They make up 35% of all muscle tissue. The more branched-chain amino acids found in muscle tissue, the more energy they are used for. Thus, they prevent muscle cells from collapsing and muscle loss.
What does BCAA do? What are the benefits?
1. The use of BCAA is becoming more widespread and the proportion of individuals who will use it increases in direct proportion.
2. The metabolic products released from the metabolism of BCAAs have been identified as a significant indicator in young and middle-aged adults with high muscle mass.
3. It is known that individuals who consume a sufficient amount of essential amino acids, including branched-chain amino acids at each meal, have less visceral waist circumference and more muscle mass.
4. Consumption of branched-chain amino acids increases glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity in healthy individuals. In individuals with diabetes, BCAA consumption may have a supportive effect on other treatment methods, thus improving metabolic markers.
5. Branched-chain amino acids initiate protein synthesis and prevent the destruction of muscle cells.
6. Branched-chain amino acids play an important role in energy production that takes place in muscles during exercise. Therefore, they are generally consumed during training.
7. Branched-chain amino acids bring many positive effects on health. The fact that they are consumed at high rates with diet increases the long-term effects.
8. It has been found that they can reduce muscle pain in intensive and training that can damage muscle mass.
9. They increase motivation for training, especially when fatigue is intense.
1. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) Increase Muscle Protein Synthesis
BCAAs have the ability to initiate protein synthesis. Since both stimulate a signal path called mTORC1, the combination of resistance exercise and branched-chain amino acids results in maximum protein synthesis.
Along with alanine, aspartate and glutamate, BCAAs are taken to gain energy to muscle tissue. It is stated that branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) are used by muscle tissue to generate energy during exercise and thus create a pool that is essential for performance.
Another benefit of BCAAs is that muscle loss can be reduced to a minimum by increasing the supplement when it is necessary to take a break due to injury, lack of time and similar reasons during exercise. Since BCAAs stimulate protein synthesis even when not exercised, they provide protection of lean muscle mass. Preserved lean muscle mass also ensures that metabolism stays fast, thus preventing possible increases in fat mass.
* Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) stimulate protein synthesis for more muscle growth and to preserve lean muscle mass during periods of inactivity.
2. BCAA Increases Fat Burn and Can Support Fat Loss
According to the results of the research, individuals who get more BCAA intake have lower fat, higher muscle mass and better body composition. According to a study with 4,429 participants, individuals with higher branched-chain amino acid intakes were observed to be weaker compared to those with lower levels and were less likely to be overweight.
Researchers think that the main reason for having a lean body composition is leucine. However, they also state that taking leucine with other BCAA types is the best option. While leucine increases fat oxidation as energy expenditure, isoleucine increases glucose tolerance. The breakdown of fats and circulation in the body provides a more flexible metabolism. Loss of fat is easier with a combination of diet and training when you have a flexible metabolism.
In a review study examining the effects of essential amino acids on body composition, BCAAs were reported to have more "anti-obesity & therapeutic" effects. Because BCAAs reduce nutritional intake and body weight, they positively affect the signaling mechanisms that stimulate the ways necessary for the development of muscle mass at the gene level.
*Branched-chain amino acids increase fat burning and glucose tolerance to make it easier for you to have a more fit body. It may be beneficial to choose foods with high BCAA content for fat burning.
3. Branched Chain Amino Acid Supplement Supports Hormone Balance During Intensive Training
Branch chain amino acids support the hormone balance that plays a role in adapting athletes to high training levels.
Higher testosterone and lower cortisol levels were found in individuals with branched-chain amino acid supplements. In addition to a good testosterone/cortisol level, inflammation was found to be lower in the branched-chain amino acid supplemented group.
Individuals consuming a mixture of branched-chain amino acids, arginine, and carbohydrates with the placebo group had better hormone levels and testosterone/cortisol levels after a strenuous exercise test. Individuals consuming the branched-chain amino acid mixture recovered faster and were found to have a lower pain score 120 minutes after training.
*The branched-chain amino acid supplement can improve hormone balance, resulting in a stronger and more durable performance.
4. BCAA Can Gain Strength with Training
Individuals who did not take sports before, who took 4 grams of leucine supplements daily, gained more strength than the placebo group after the 12-week training period. In the group taking leucine supplementation, 31% more strength gain was observed in all training types compared to the placebo group. A similar study was not performed with branched-chain amino acids, but the combination of protein supplementation with strength training yields better results.
Common evidence from the results of the studies provides an increase in strength in a diet consisting of foods rich in amino acids such as meat, eggs, protein powders, and BCAA supplements.
*Increasing protein intake increases strength in training because branched-chain amino acids improve neuromuscular adaptation.
5. BCAA Supplement Improves Endurance Performance and Reduces Fatigue Feeling
Reducing fatigue and pain sensations and increasing endurance performance are the most important regions where the effects of BCAA supplementation on performance are examined. In this context, there are two mechanisms by which BCAA supplementation increases performance.
First, during a glycogen-consuming workout, BCAAs are used for energy, keeping ATP levels high. They also improve the body's fat-burning, creating an extra accessible pool for energy.
Second, they can prevent feelings of fatigue and pain in the central nervous system by preventing the intake of tryptophan into the brain. They are used to make serotonin in the brain, which causes feelings of fatigue and pain. According to the discourse of the scientists who study the sports performance of people, the highest level of performance is the performance that reaches the moment when the brain signals "stop now".
*The BCAA supplement provides your body with more fuel than it can spend, so how far it can go to the endurance performance can be easily tested.
6. Leukine-Enriched BCAAs Equalize Muscle Development in Young and Older Individuals
One of the branched-chain amino acids after a power workout, leucine can increase protein synthesis by 145%. Recently, it has been popular to supplement leucine alone without isoleucine and valine, but this is not the practice recommended by the literature.
According to the results of the research, when the balance between leucine and other branched-chain amino acids is disturbed, there may be an imbalance in blood amino acid levels. This situation affects anabolic responses negatively. The ideal ratio of leucine to other BCAA types is 1 to 4 for muscle development.
For older individuals, consuming leucine with other BCAAs is of great importance. It is important for the body to develop muscle mass as it ages, but it is very difficult to perform. Activation of protein synthesis drops after age 35. With the advancement of age, muscle loss and sarcopenia may begin to appear, as diet may also decrease in protein intake.
Leucine-rich BCAA mixtures (containing 40% Leucine) are the solution for such situations. Because, after resistance training, depending on the dosage, they can prolong the realization of protein synthesis even in older individuals.
7 .BCAA Supplement Reduces Muscle Pain and Pain After Days After Training (DOMS: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness)
BCAA supplement is effective for reducing and not preventing pains that occur after days of resistance and endurance exercises in individuals who regularly train and do not.
In another study with male participants who regularly train, BCAA supplementation significantly reduced muscle pain before and after the repetition of “drop jumps” that caused 100 muscle damage.
Branched-chain amino acids are considered a highly valuable type of supplement. Because they protect the integrity of the muscle fibers, they reduce pain after training and enable higher intensity training to be done more frequently.
BCAA supplementation reduces pain, accelerates healing, thereby enabling both more frequent training and real strength and potential.
8. BCAA Supplement Prevents Muscle Loss in Long Term Exercises
In addition to improving endurance exercise performance, branched-chain amino acids also prevent muscle loss during long-term endurance exercises. A decrease in plasma BCAA levels has been found during this type of exercise, which is associated with muscle loss.
9. Branched Chain Amino Acid Supplement Improves Insulin Profile and Reduces Diabetes Risk
While isoleucine alone improves glucose tolerance, all branched-chain amino acids can support insulin sensitivity and increase metabolic rate. In this way, they can provide a better body composition. In a study examining weight loss, the individuals who experienced the most weight loss had higher insulin sensitivity and BCAA levels were higher.
One point that should not be skipped is that individuals with diabetes may have problems with branched-chain amino acid metabolism. Intake of BCAAs can raise insulin levels, so this supplement should not be considered a treatment for diabetes. Individuals with diabetes should treat this disease by getting support from their doctors along with a regular life, diet, and exercise.
Non-diabetic individuals can focus on branched-chain amino acid intake with nutrients, improve the insulin profile, and reduce the risk of diabetes by enhancing branched-chain amino acid intake with supplements in individuals who play sports.
Scientists say that providing “nutritional support during exercise” with branched-chain amino acids or protein sources with high branched-chain amino acid content will prevent catabolism, fill the pool of energy, and thereby prevent the release of amino acids from muscle tissue.
*In long-lasting endurance exercises, BCAA supplementation can protect muscle tissue.