Super awesome BCAAS!
The go-to drink for the gym going gym rat extraordinaire! BCAAS equal muscles, right? more BCAAS more MAASCLES! No explanation necessary! Go grab a bucket of your favorite BCAAS and eat it by the scoopful!
So a definite SuppleYES, right?
Eh. Not quite.
A little bit of background on the almighty Branched Chain Amino Acids. They are a group of three aminos, Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. They are essential amino acids, so it is necessary to get them within your diet.
BCAAS make up about 35-40% of all the essential amino acids within our bodies, as well as about 14-18% of our bodies skeletal muscle.
Leucine is considered the “main” BCAA. Basically, Leucine can help ignite muscle protein synthesis (Jumpstart muscular recovery) by activating a type of protein called mTOR (Mammalian Target of rapamycin). Out of the three, Leucine is the most well studied in isolation and seems to provide the most benefit out of the three.
Isoleucine is of lesser importance compared to Leucine but seems to still have some benefit. It can aid in muscle protein synthesis, but nowhere near as effectively as Leucine. It can also induce glucose uptake into the cells. Glucose is the bodies main energy source, so increased glucose uptake into the cells may help those with Hyperglycemia (Diabetes) and may have some performance enhancing benefits for the exercise enthusiasts. There has not been extensive research done on humans as of yet, however.
Poor pitiful Valine. Valine seems to be the least important. It is understudied in isolation, and so far shows no unique properties compared to its two superior and much better-looking friends.
Because BCAAS share the same transport pathway as L-tryptophan, they can block the absorption of L-tryptophan for a period of time. Tryptophan is a precursor to Serotonin. Yes, that tryptophan that is commonly associated with Thanksgiving turkey/Thanksgiving sleepiness.
Blocking this absorption can be beneficial for those who are exercising because while exercising there is a decline in blood serum BCAAS. Supplementing with them can help prevent this decline, which a decline is associated with a large increase of Tryptophan into the brain, thus causing an increase in serotonin. This increase in Serotonin can lead to fatigue.
Something of particular interest, is BCAAS are found in higher concentrations in the blood serum of obese individuals.
Oh. Oh great. Now you’re saying they will make me fat!? So the fitness industry has lied to me!? What the hell!
No, cool yourself, imaginary person. Jeez.
Multiple studies have been done on this finding; mainly trying to find if there is a correlation between high BCAA ingestion and obesity, but nothing conclusive as of yet. Only that it appears to be a consequence of obesity, not a cause of obesity.
I’m going to be making this a two part series because there is more I would like to touch on. Find out the verdict on whether or not they are worth taking next week!
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