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What are BCAAs?
BCAAs or branched chain amino acids (branded chain amino acids) are a set of 3 amino acids that promote protein synthesis and the creation of an anabolic environment favourable to muscle mass gain. Amino acids are the structures of which proteins are composed.
There are 20 types of amino acids which are classified into two categories: essential and non-essential depending on whether the body can produce them itself or whether they must be ingested through diet and supplementation. BCAAS are made up of 3 of these 20 amino acids and are essential: leucine, valine, isoleucine.
These 3 amino acids are important and have a great relevance especially for people aiming to gain muscle mass. BCAAs are involved in numerous processes related to protein synthesis, recovery of damaged muscle fibres.
BCAA supplements are recommended for those seeking to maximise the creation of a suitable environment for the regeneration of muscle tissue, decrease the time needed for recovery as well as maximise muscle development and performance enhancement.
What is the function of each amino acid in the BCAAs?
Leucine: the amino acid found in the highest proportion. It is the most important branched amino acid of the three in protein synthesis and in the creation and maintenance of an anabolic environment favourable to muscle mass gain.
Isoleucine: among its main functions, it contributes to the creation and recovery of muscle fibres. It also promotes the use of fat as fuel during exercise. It is a precursor of other amino acids such as alanine and glutamine.
Valine: promotes the existence of a positive nitrogen balance, which is necessary to repair and build muscle tissue. It has the property that it can be used as energy when the muscles require it, helps regulate insulin levels and promotes sleep.
What are BCAAs for?
BCAAs contribute to a large number of functions. Among the most important, they promote muscle mass gain and the creation of an optimal anabolic environment that promotes protein synthesis. They stimulate protein synthesis and the activation of the MTor pathway. One of the benefits is their rapid absorption into the blood.
- They also help to improve the recovery process after training. They help to reduce the sensation of fatigue.
- Other functions in which they are also involved are:
- They minimise recovery times and reduce muscle soreness.
- They contribute to improved physical performance.
- They help maintain glycogen stores.
- They can be used as fuel and therefore prevent or postpone fatigue.
- Support muscle building and contribute to glutamine production.
What is the 2:1:1 and 8:1:1:1 ratio?
When we look at a BCAA supplement, there is a number that accompanies its name: 2:2:1 or 8:1:1:1.
This number describes the ratio of the proportion of amino acids in the chosen supplement, in the following order: leucine, isoleucine and valine.
If the ratio is 8:1:1:1 : it indicates that there are 8 amino acids of leucine, for every 1 of valine and 1 of isoleucine.
If the ratio is 2:1:1:1 : it indicates that there are 2 amino acids of leucine, double the amount of isoleucine and valine. This is the ratio most similar to that found in natural animal protein.
Leucine is the highest ratio amino acid because it is the most important amino acid for muscle building.
Supplements with a 4:1:1 or 11:1:1:1 ratio can also be found.
How to take BCAAs?
Mix a scoop or the desired amount with water. BCAA supplements can be chosen in different formats and flavours: capsules or powder. Powdered BCAAs are available in different flavours to make them easier to take.
When to take BCAAs?
Before training: to ensure that the body has the necessary nutrients and for the correct maintenance of muscle mass.
During training: as a light and easy to take supplement, it can be ideal to take while doing the corresponding physical activity. They also postpone fatigue.
After training: they help to create a favourable environment for muscle mass gain and to reduce fatigue.