BCAAs are comprised of three amino acids – leucine, isoleucine and valine – essential for protein synthesis and muscle growth. The role of BCAA’s is to prevent decline in these three aminos, which naturally occurs during exercise, leading to fatigue.
Additional benefits include immune system support and muscle retention.
Exercise and weightlifting in particular places huge amounts of stress on the body. Because BCAA’s must be consumed, we can’t maintain a normal, healthy immune system if we don’t supplement our diet with these essentials.
Whether under stress from training, or taking a break and being sedentary, we are at risk of muscle loss. The following formula explains this perfectly:
Muscle Mass = rate of protein synthesis – rate of protein breakdown
If this rate remains the same, we neither gain nor lose muscle; we ‘plateau’. If the rate of synthesis exceeds breakdown, we gain muscle. Likewise, if breakdown is greater, we lose it. Alarmingly, when training or dieting, it is possible to both reduce protein synthesis and elevate muscle breakdown.
BCAAs stimulate both protein synthesis AND activate the cellular mechanisms which make this function happen, increasing both rate and capacity for muscle growth. They also reduce breakdown by interfering with the process which makes it happen. Further research also suggests BCAAs increase efficiency of our workouts, allowing us to train at a higher intensity. Serotonin levels rise during exercise, resulting in fatigue; BCAAs stop this from happening by indirectly reducing serotonin levels.
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