BCAAs are anti-catabolic study shows

Guy with absBranch Chain Amino Acids or BCAA’s are the ‘Building Blocks’ of the body. Bcaa’s make up 35% of your muscle, acting as a nitrogen carrier which aid in combining smaller amino acids into structures, which form muscle growth. They also allow the body to convert amino acids into energy during high repetition exercise much more easily. By also stimulating insulin production, the muscle cells absorb blood sugar and burn them as energy. Having a complete source of BCAAs prevents your body from breaking down hard earned muscle tissue. This leaves your body in the perfect state for producing more muscle.

But there’s more to BCAAs than that. Leucine is an anabolic stimulant for muscle cells, leucine and isoleucine stimulate fat burning in muscle cells, and isoleucine boosts the muscle cells’ glucose uptake. [J Nutr. 2005 Sep;135(9):2103-8.] A research study experimented with seven healthy test subjects, who weren’t regular gym attenders. All seven trained their leg muscles by doing leg-presses. The leg-presses consisted of 4 sets of 10 reps at 89% of their 1RM, followed by 4 sets of 15 reps at 65% of their 1RM.

On one occasion the subjects drank a sports drink that contained no active ingredients; on the other occasion they were given a drink containing BCAAs. If you want to know the exact composition: the BCAAs consisted of 45 percent leucine, 30 percent valine and 25 percent isoleucine. They used Ajinomoto products from Japan.

The subjects drank just before, during and just after their workout 150 ml of the sports drink, and then another 150 ml 15 and 45 minutes after training. In total the subjects consumed 900 ml sports drink. Per kg bodyweight they consumed 85 mg BCAAs. If you weigh 80 kg that amounts to 6.8 g BCAAs, which is not an extreme dose.

“These observations, together with the BCAA-induced enlargement in p70S6k phosphorylation and attenuation of MAFbx expression and MuRF-1 total protein provide additional support for the view that BCAA has an anabolic effect on human skeletal muscle, an effect which appears to be similar in resting and exercising human muscle”, the Swedes conclude.

The researchers were not funded by the supplements industry, but by the Swedish National Centre for Research in Sports, the Swedish School of Sport and Health Sciences and the Karolinska Institutet.

Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Nov 29. [Epub ahead of print].

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