What are BCAAs?
We're often asked here at The Power of Me; 'Do I need to include BCAAs in my supplement plan?' With this blog post we're hoping to answer these questions.
BCAAs are branch chain amino acids – the building blocks of protein that make up the largest proportion of muscular tissue. They are leucine, isoleucine and valine. Unlike some amino acids, BCAAs can’t be synthesised within the body so must be taken in through food or supplementation.
They play a particularly important role for people who exercise regularly, especially when the goal is lose fat whilst maintaining muscle mass as they prevent your body from using muscle as a source of energy. They do this by maintaining a high rate of protein synthesis, causing cells to uptake glucose to use as fuel instead.
This is the primary BCAA and the one most beneficial to muscle building. Leucine activates the protein mTOR which induces muscle protein synthesis which is essential for muscle growth and repair. Leucine can also stimulate glucose uptake into cells providing an energy supply for respiration during exercise.
Relative to the other two BCAAs, isoleucine is intermediate for its ability to induce muscle protein synthesis (stronger than valine, but much weaker than leucine) and is also able to significantly increase glucose uptake and the usage of glucose as an energy source during exercise.
Valine is involved in all of the same processes as leucine and isoleucine just to a lesser extent. However this doesn’t mean its supplementation should be overlooked as it still plays an important role, working in synergy with the other BCAAs in driving protein synthesis and glucose uptake into cells.
Good sources of BCAAs
BCAAs can be obtained through many dietary sources including red meat, poultry, fish and eggs. If you are training hard and causing damage to their muscular tissue through exercise, trying to gain all of your BCAA requirements from these sources may not be possible and supplementation may need to be considered. Our Pre-Energiser, Workout Energiser and Whey Protein products all contain high levels of BCAAs to help prevent muscle breakdown during exercise.