After Whey protein, BCAA is certainly the most famous academies supplement used by most bodybuilders. Despite the fame, however, many people still do not know what BCAA, its benefits, and how to take or what it is for the compound.
When we consume proteins (such as those present in chicken breast, for example), they need to be "broken" into smaller pieces in order to enter cells.
This process mediated by the action of enzymes, converts larger molecules into smaller units which are amino acids. Simply put, it's as if the proteins were a house and the amino acids were the bricks.
And just as you attach the blocks to form homes and several houses form a community, our body links the amino acids to form proteins and these proteins come together to form the muscles.
These amino acids may be from the feed or are produced by the body itself. In the first case, we give them the name of essential amino acids, since they are not synthesized by the body. In this group the amino acids isoleucine, phenylalanine, lysine, leucine, threonine, methionine, tryptophan, valine and histidine.
Since the amino acids that synthesizes the organism itself are called non-essential, and include asparagine, alanine, serine, aspartic acid and glutamic acid.
What is BCAA?
The term BCAA is actually an abbreviation of Branched Chain Amino Acids, or Branched chain amino acids, including leucine, valine and isoleucine. Together these three amino acids make up about 1/3 of muscle proteins and are essential for muscle growth and development.
Serving for the BCAA?
BCAAs are used as nitrogen carriers, nutrient which acts in the synthesis of other amino acids necessary for the production of new muscle fibers (anabolism). Another function of BCAA is stimulate the production of insulin, the hormone which promotes the entry of glucose and amino acids into cells.
This effect of BCAA help reduce muscle damage resulting from sports activities, accelerate muscle recovery, stimulate protein synthesis and reduce fatigue. BCAA also ensures more energy to muscles during training, which can translate into more intense series and longer and productive workout.
So, in brief, we can say that the BCAA serves to raise energy levels during training, preventing catabolism, reduce physical and mental fatigue, provide necessary amino acids to the muscles and stimulate protein synthesis.
How it works?
After an intense resistance training, even experienced athletes begin to suffer the effects of muscle catabolism. This is the time when glycogen stores are down, which forces the liver to use the L-amino acid alanine to synthesize glucose. About half of the amino acids released from the muscle during training is composed of L-alanine.
When this occurs - that is, when the amino acids begin to be released from the muscles - the muscles interrupt protein synthesis, which is totally counterproductive for those who practice weight training and is seeking hypertrophy.
Consumption of BCAA "warns" the muscles that you no longer need to interrupt protein synthesis, since there are amino acids in circulation to replenish stocks lost during exercise, and even to prevent them from being used as an energy source.
Benefits of BCAA
BCAA increases longevity, improve the immune system, increases insulin sensitivity, prevents loss of muscle tissue and increases the strength and endurance. Check out other benefits of BCAA:
- Excellent supplement for muscle gain
This is certainly one of the main benefits of BCAA, which stimulates the formation and development of muscle fibers. Research presented at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the International Society of Sports Nutrition has shown that bodybuilders who had consumed BCAA for eight weeks gained about twice as much muscle mass and strength when compared to athletes who took only a shake of whey without additional supplementation of BCAA .
We have seen that the muscles are made up of proteins, and these in amino acids. Therefore, our body needs more amino acids to proteins and thus more muscle fibers.
Not only the function "brick" that BCAA acts on muscle growth. Studies indicate that leucine increases the formation of muscle tissue through its direct action on protein synthesis. It is as if she were in charge of the work that gives the order to which the bricks are stacked.
Leucine also increases insulin levels, anabolic hormone which further stimulates the formation of new proteins.
- It has rapid absorption
When we consume protein or even amino acids in the form of supplements, they must first pass through the liver before being used as fuel or else follow to help repair and protein synthesis in muscle or other tissues.
But the BCAA goes directly to the tissues after absorption in the intestine, which means you can use it as a fast source of energy during training. And when you end your workout, BCAAs are already available in the circulation to begin the process of rebuilding muscle.
For this reason, take BCAAs before training ensures that you have more energy for intense series and with the same force from beginning to end.
- It has anabolic and anticatabolic function
At the end of an intense workout resistance the body accelerates the breakdown of muscle proteins in order to release amino acids into the liver to convert into energy. In addition to this mechanism causing great loss of lean body mass, it also decreases the synthesis of new proteins. Ie, catabolism is the enemy of strengthening and muscular hypertrophy. Make a BCAA supplementation can significantly reduce the side effects of muscle catabolism and improve your performance in the gym.
BCAA is anabolic while fighting catabolism because significantly increases protein synthesis, facilitates the release of anabolic hormones such as IGF-1 and insulin, and because it operates in maintaining a proper ratio of testosterone and cortisol. While cortisol stimulates muscle degradation, testosterone has the opposite effect, stimulating the synthesis of longer fibers and leading to a state of hypertrophy.
- Improves recovery
Several studies show that BCAA may improve symptoms and even prevent DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness), or muscular pain Late in Portuguese. The DOMS is nothing more than the pain that you feel the day after a strong workout legs, for example.
One of these studies suggest that the consumption of 100 mg / kg of BCAA reduced symptoms of DOMS and accelerated recovery in women who were not trained. Other research provides similar result by stating that supplementation with BCAA before and after 100 vertical jumps significantly reduced the symptoms of DOMS in trained participants. The reduction in maximum force during exercise was 33% lower in the group that received BCAA than that ingested only a placebo.
In practice, this means that the BCAA improves recovery after exercise causing muscle damage, which allows you to train more regularly and with greater intensity - and without pain.
- Prevents loss of lean mass during dieting
It is not only for those looking hypertrophy serving BCAA, as the supplement may also be useful for those who are limiting your caloric intake.
Much of the weight loss diets also cause loss of lean mass, arising from the use of muscle tissue as an energy source for metabolism.
By providing amino acids necessary for protein synthesis, BCAA helps prevent the protein degradation (proteolysis) and muscle loss from low-calorie diets.
- Reduces fatigue
Some studies suggest that BCAA circulates through the blood to the brain, which reduces the production of serotonin within the body, this action reduces mental fatigue. This is because serotonin is a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and can cause the feeling of tiredness.
Upon entering the circulation BCAA - especially valine - begins to compete with tryptophan to enter the brain, which may decrease the concentration of this amino acid that can effectively pass through blood-brain barrier (brain).
Research indicates that consuming BCAA before training reduces the amount of tryptophan that reaches the brain, which ultimately delay the feeling of fatigue. This property of the BCAA, incidentally, makes it a supplement that can be used to reduce mental fatigue and maintain alertness and quick thinking.
- Lose weight and fat burning
In a study published in 2009 in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, participants underwent eight weeks of physical endurance training. Part of the volunteers received supplementation with BCAA, while the rest of the group did not use amino acids.
At the end of the study, participants who consumed BCAA showed an increased muscle mass gain and also lost more weight than the control group.
In another study by Brazilian researchers, participants who received leucine supplementation for six weeks showed a significant loss of body fat. Researchers attribute the result to the leucine activity in metabolism, since the amino acid increases energy expenditure and stimulates the use of fat as an energy source.
Leucine also reduces appetite, which means that consuming BCAA can help you consume fewer calories throughout the day, while it begins to burn existing fat in the body.
Already a Japanese research credits part of the success of BCAA in burning fat to function isoleucine, since mice that consumed the supplement in conjunction with a diet high in fat had a much lower fat gain than animals that do not amino acids received.
Natural sources of BCAA include red meat, chicken, dairy products and eggs. A portion of 100 grams of meat or cottage cheese ½ cup provides, on average, 1.7 g of leucine, isoleucine and 1 g 1 g valine.
Although in lower concentrations, the proteins of plant origin also provide BCAA. Foods such as soybeans, lentils, beans, rice and wheat, corn and nuts are all sources of the nutrient, and the bean that provides the highest amount of BCAA among the vegetables.
A cup cooked beans contain approximately 1 g of each of the branched chain amino acids. The same amount of rice provides 0.4 g leucine, 0.2 g isoleucine, and 0.3 g valine.
In addition to consuming the BCAA alone as a supplement way, it is also possible to obtain a good concentration of these amino acids in the whey protein, which protein is derived from whey.
You can consume BCAA 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after training, as well as have more energy for your activities and may reduce the effects of catabolism after exercise. A recommended dose of BCAA per day is 0:20 g / kg. For a 70 kg person, this means consuming 14 grams of the supplement a day. At least 5-10 g each time.
If the aim of the BCAA is muscle hypertrophy, take the supplement also to wake up, to stop the catabolism that began during sleep.
As is optimized absorption of amino acids in the presence of insulin, with BCAA consuming a carbohydrate source, like a fruit, or together with the meal.
Now, if you want to take BCAA only twice a day, give preference to the pre and post training to ensure more energy and decrease catabolism.
You can find the BCAA in whey protein, but it is important to remember that the amino acid absorption does not occur equally in both supplements. While whey amino acids can take up to a few hours to get to the muscles, the BCAA supplement has faster metabolism and may become available to the cells in much less time.
Side effects of BCAA
Consumption of BCAA is not usually associated with more serious side effects, but as a source of a lot of amino acids, people with a history of kidney problems should avoid the supplement.
And as the metabolism of these amino acids can cause dehydration, be sure to consume plenty of water while you are doing with BCAA supplementation.
- Branched-chain amino acids - WebMD;
- Benefits of BCAA - Poliquin Group;
- Branched Chain Amino Acids - Examine.