As you can tell by the name of our company, we believe in the power of Branch Chained Amino Acids (BCAA). BCAA’s are one of the most tested supplement powders for performance enhancement and recovery. You can be sure that we are going to provide you with well over 50 studies that will show you why we believe in this powder. Before I get ahead of myself, however, lets fully understand what BCAA’s are.
What are BCAA’s?
Let’s start with what an amino acid is. Amino acids are the building blocks of what creates protein. There are a lot of different types of amino acids but only around 20 of those actually make up a single protein. A breakdown of the amino acids can be found below. Essential amino acids are those that cannot be produced in the body; as a result, they must be consumed through food or supplements. Nonessential amino acids are those that can be made in the body and conditional amino acids are normally nonessential, but needed if the body undergoes illness or stress.
- Essential Amino Acids: Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, and Valine.
- Nonessential Amino Acids: Alanine, Asparagine, Aspartic Acid, Glutamic Acid.
- Conditional Amino Acids: Arginine (essential in children, not in adults), Cysteine, Glutamine, Glycine, Proline, Serine, and Tyrosine.
How your body metabolizes protein is a little different. When you ingest protein, your body breaks down the protein molecules into the amino acids it can use. A large proportion of our tissue is made up of amino acids so the breakdown of protein is important for your body to function. Among those essential amino acids, the BCAA’s reside.
BCAA’s are comprised of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. BCAA’s have a non-continuous link of carbon bonds. The branch, in branch chained, comes from that single carbon that isn’t in line with the rest and it creates a “branch”. Without going into too much science, the muscles use these BCAA’s as its source of energy during exercise. When BCAA’s are consumed directly (like BCAA powder), your body doesn’t have to break down the protein into the amino acids and then separate the BCAA’s out to consume for energy. The largest percentage of oxidation occurs in muscle tissue when these BCAA’s are consumed directly. So now that you have at least a basic understanding of a BCAA, let’s take a look at the research.
We will examine the study titled “Amino Acid Supplements and Recovery from High-Intensity Resistance Training”
The method they took
The purpose of the study was to investigate whether short-term amino acid supplementation could maintain a short-term net anabolic hormonal profile and decrease muscle cell damage during a period of high-intensity resistance training, thereby enhancing the recovery and decreasing the risk for injury and illness. They took 8 previously resistance trained males and broke them into two groups. One took a BCAA supplement and the other took a placebo. The supplement group took BCAA for 3 weeks and on the 4th week the high-intensity exercise started along with continued supplementation. They took blood prior to and after supplementation, then again after day 2 and 4 days of training in all groups.
The method explained
So they took 4 males and provided them with L-Glutamine 2000mg, L-Leucine 1800mg, L-Isoloecine 750mg, and L-Valine 750mg. The placebo group took 6 grams of lactose so neither group knew what they were taking since it was in pill form. The groups took 6 capsules in the morning and 6 capsules at night which totaled the 6 g for the day. They did this for 3 weeks without any high intensity training. On the fourth week they added high-intensity whole body resistance training in an effort to overreach each group. They took blood draws along the way to measure serum testosterone, cortisol, and creatine kinase levels.
The results are a pretty conclusive win for BCCA supplementation. Serum testosterone levels were significantly higher with the BCAA group compared to the placebo group.
Both creatine and cortisol levels were found to be significantly decreased in the BCAA group as well.
This finding is significant because of the drastic reduction in cortisol levels post exercise. It has long been known that resistance training significantly increases protein synthesis and testosterone levels but it is also met with increased cortisol levels. This means that the skeletal muscle generally remains in an overall catabolic state without intervention with something like BCAA’s.
This study is one of many that proves the efficacy of BCAA supplementation combined with resistance training. Supplementing with at least 6g of BCAA powder and engaging in high-intensity exercise shows great ability to help the body repair faster by reducing your cortisol and increasing testosterone in your body. There are not many muscle building supplements that can show this great of benefit. Next time you consider purchasing a supplement, add in some BCAA’s to the mix to ensure you are maximizing your gains.
Don’t take my word for it, download the study here to read it for yourself.