The Benefits of Branched-Chain Amino Acids
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are three amino acids that benefit muscle growth; leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They're not only found in supplements, but also in high levels in foods such as eggs or meat. BCAA supplementation is useful for gaining skeletal muscle and maintaining mass while on a calorie-deficit diet. Some reasons BCAA’s help include:
Increases Protein Synthesis
Protein synthesis is the metabolic process when your body makes new muscle protein. Branched-chain amino acids stimulate protein synthesis within the muscles, potentially more than a normal protein on its own.
Reduce Protein Breakdown
Increased BCAA levels also reduce the rate of protein breakdown. They do this by decreasing the activity of the protein breakdown pathway, and by decreasing the expression of several complexes involved in protein breakdown. This paired with the increased protein synthesis results in more muscle gained.
Have Better Workouts
BCAA supplementation can also help you get a more intense workout. Branched-chain amino acids compete with the amino acid tryptophan for entry into the brain, where tryptophan can be converted to the neurotransmitter serotonin.
During exercise, serotonin levels rise and can make you feel more fatigued, meaning you won't be able to push as hard.
BCAA supplementation reduces the amount of tryptophan that gets through the blood-brain barrier, and therefore reduces the amount of serotonin produced. This might allow you to work harder, for longer.