The Importance of BCAA’s

BCAAs are made up of three essential aminos – leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They are essential because the body is unable to make them out of other amino acids, meaning they must be ingested through food or supplements. The BCAAs make up 40 percent of the daily requirement of all nine essential amino acids, indicating their importance.  When you are training to develop a stronger, more powerful body, it is essential to stimulate and fuel your muscles at the cellular level.  BCAA’s reduce muscle fatigue, speed recovery, decrease the loss of other amino acids from muscle during exercise and help the body absorb protein.  BCAAs are found in foods containing protein, with the highest concentrations in chicken, beef, salmon, eggs, and whey protein. They can also be supplemented, which can be useful for athletes because free form BCAAs bypass the liver and gut tissue and go directly to the blood stream.  A deficiency in any one of these aminos will cause muscle loss. Unlike other amino acids, BCAA’s are metabolized in the muscle and not the liver and are mutually antagonistic in their absorptive qualities, therefore, must be available at the same time to insure maximum absorption into the muscle system.  Taking BCAA’s before and/or during a workout will increase performance and delay fatigue because BCAA’s are rapidly depleted from the muscle during training.  In addition to that consuming BCAA’s immediately after or with a post workout meal will lower cortisol level which destroy muscle and help replace the necessary levels of BCAA’s in the muscles much more quickly



What Are The Functions Of BCAA’s?

BCAA’s act as nitrogen carriers which assist the muscles in synthesizing other aminos needed for anabolic muscle action. In simpler terms, it is a combining of simpler aminos to form a complex whole muscle tissue.  Therefore, BCAA’s stimulate production of insulin, the main function of which is to allow circulating blood sugar to be taken up by the muscle cells and used as a source of energy. This insulin production promotes amino acid uptake by the muscle. BCAA’s are both anabolic and anti-catabolic because of their ability to significantly increase protein synthesis, facilitate the release of hormones such as growth hormone (GH), IGF-1, and insulin, and help maintain a favorable testosterone to cortisol ratio.  BCAA’s are also excellent anti-catabolic because they can help prevent protein breakdown and muscle loss, which is significantly important to those who are on strict diets. During these times of low caloric intake, the use of BCAA is strongly recommended because there is a greater risk of muscle loss due to a decrease in the rate of protein synthesis and an increase of proteolysis, which is the hydrolytic breakdown of proteins into simpler, soluble substances such as peptides and amino acids, as occurs during digestion


Breaking Down Each BCAA

  • Leucine-  like its cousin’s isoleucine and valine, is a hydrophobic amino acid that is found as a structural element on the interior of proteins and enzymes. There appears to be no other significant metabolic role for these amino acids, but they are essential and because they are not synthesized by mammalian tissues, must be taken in the diet.  Leucine is an EAA (essential amino acid) meaning that the human body cannot synthesize it, and it therefore must be ingested.  Leucine is the only dietary amino acid that has the capacity to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.   Leucine ties glycine for the position of second most common amino acid found in proteins with a concentration of 7.5 percent on a molar basis compared to the other amino acids. It provides ingredients for the manufacturing of other essential biochemical components in the body, some of which are utilized for the production of energy, stimulants to the upper brain and helping you to be more alert.
  • Isoleucine – is a member of the aliphatic side-chain amino acid family that is composed of extremely hydrophobic biochemical’s that are found principally in the interior of proteins and enzymes. Like several other members of this family (valine and leucine), isoleucine is an essential amino acid that is not synthesized by mammalian tissues, and as an essential nutrient, it is not synthesized in the body, hence it must be ingested, usually as a component of proteins.  Another feature of this class of amino acids is that they appear to have no other significant biological role than incorporation into proteins and enzymes, where their main purpose is to help dictate the tertiary structure of the macromolecules.  Isoleucine is incorporated into proteins at a molar rate of 4.6 percent when compared to the other amino acids.  It also provides ingredients for the manufacturing of other essential biochemical components in the body, some of which are utilized for the production of energy, stimulants to the upper brain and helping you to be more alert.
  • Valine -is an aliphatic amino acid that is closely related to leucine and isoleucine, both in structure and function. These amino acids are extremely hydrophobic and are almost always found in the interior of proteins. They are also seldom useful in routine biochemical reactions, but are relegated to the duty of determining the three-dimensional structure of proteins due to their hydrophobic nature.  They are also essential amino acids and just like Isoleucine and leucine must be ingested. Important sources of valine include soy flour, cottage cheese, fish, meats, and vegetables. Valine is incorporated into proteins and enzymes at the molar rate of 6.9 percent when compared to the other amino acids

Going Back to the Basics

  • BCAAs Enhance Muscle Protein Synthesis – BCAAs are well known for triggering protein synthesis. Combining BCAAs with resistance exercise results in maximal protein synthesis because they both trigger something called the mTORC1 signaling pathway that is essential for muscle building.  BCAAs along with alanine, aspartate, and glutamate are all taken into muscle tissue for energy. It is suggested that muscle is designed to burn BCAAs for energy during exercise, making a large pool essential for performance.  Another great benefit of BCAAs is that if you have to take time off from training due to injury, a need for a break, or lack of time, increasing your BCAA intake will minimize muscle loss. In addition, because BCAAs trigger protein synthesis even in the absence of exercise, the preservation of lean muscle tissue can keep metabolism up and help prevent fat gain when inactive.  .
  •  BCAAs Support Hormone Balance During Intense Training -  BCAAs support hormone balance, which plays a role in an athlete’s ability to respond to extreme training loads.  For example, a study that tested the effect of “loading” BCAAs with 6 grams of BCCAs for 3 weeks followed by a week of high-intensity resistance training found that compared to a placebo group, the BCAA group had higher testosterone (T) and lower cortisol (C). In addition to a better T:C ratio, the BCAA group had lower biomarkers of inflammation, indicating that they were responding to the training load effectively.  A second study found that by combining BCAAs, arginine, and carbs, trainees had better hormone balance and a better T:C ratio after an exhaustive exercise test compared to a placebo. Participants who received the BCAA drink recovered much more quickly than those in the placebo trial and had a lower fatigue score at 120 minutes post-workout.  
  • BCAAs Enhance Endurance Performance and Decrease Fatigue -  Reducing fatigue and improving endurance performance is the clinical trial area where BCAAs perform most impressively. There are two mechanisms via which BCAAs improve performance.  First, BCAAs can be burned as energy to maintain ATP energy levels during glycogen-depleting exercise. BCAAs may also enhance the body’s ability to burn fat, increasing the accessible energy pool.  Second, BCAAs prevent central fatigue of the nervous system by inhibiting uptake of tryptophan into the brain. Tryptophan is used to make serotonin in the brain, increasing tiredness and fatigue. Scientists who study the limits of human performance believe that the real limiting factor in performance is when the brain tells you “I’m done.”  Using BCAAs Is an Easy Way to Test Your Endurance Performance Limits by Helping Your Body Burn Fuel More Efficiently.
  • BCAAs Decreases Muscle Soreness & DOMS for Greater Training Frequency –   A series of studies on both trained and untrained individuals show that BCAAs are worth the time and money to reduce (not prevent) DOMS in response to both resistance and endurance exercise.  For example, taking 100 mg/kg of BCAAs reduced muscle soreness at 48 hours and allowed for faster recuperation of strength in untrained women. That BCAAs were effective in an untrained population is noteworthy because DOMS tend to be more severe in untrained muscles.  A second study of trained men found that dosing BCAAs before and after doing 100 muscle-damaging drop jumps reduced muscle soreness significantly. Maximal strength was decreased 33 percent less than a placebo.  The dosing protocol had trainees take BCCAs for 7 days before and for 2 days after training as well as 20 grams before and after the workout for a total of 280 grams. Researchers point to the steady stream of essential amino acids hitting the blood as the reason BCAAs were so effective in this study.  The Take Away: Using BCAAs to Decrease Soreness and Accelerate Recovery Will Allow You to Train More Frequently So As To Reach Your True Strength and Size Potential.
  • BCAAs Prevent Muscle Loss During Long-Duration Exercise -  In addition to improving endurance performance, BCAAs prevent muscle loss during ultra-endurance exercise. For example, it was found that trained athletes who performed a 24-hour-long exercise trial that included 12 cycles of running, cycling, and kayaking experienced significant muscle protein degradation and had evidence of metabolic stress linked with muscle damage. There was a pronounced drop in plasma levels of BCAAs over the exercise trial, which is linked with muscle loss.  Scientists suggest that providing “simultaneous nutritional support” with BCAAs or a high-BCAA containing protein will prevent catabolism by improving the overall energy-burning pool so that amino acids aren’t released from muscle tissue.  Consuming BCAAs is a No-Brainer to Support Performance in Long-Duration Endurance Sports since They Protect Muscle Tissue.

The Future of BCAAs

Muscle Elements has taken BCAAs to the next level with their industry first fully dosed BCAA and Nitric Oxide product called AmiNo Flow.  This new category dubbed “amino-oxide” is one of the most advanced categories of its kind.  For the first time you can get a fully dosed BCAA product containing 10 gm of BCAAs, 16.5gm of Total amino acids and a powerful Nitric Oxide product consisting of  4 gms of PURE L Citrulline and 500 mg of Agmatine Sulfate (per 2 scoops)  all in one without the price tag of purchasing these products separately.  This powerful cocktail gives you all the benefits of improved blood flow, dramatic vascularity and explosive pumps all while promoting protein synthesis, improving recovery, supporting muscle endurance and sparing muscle.  AmiNo Flow is very versatile so it can be used as your daily amino acid and nitric oxide supplement, added to your favorite pre-workout like PreCre for the ultimate pre-workout experience, as a stand-alone non stimulant pre-workout, or right before bed time.  Currently this is offered in a 30 scoop bottle and comes in two amazing flavors Fruit Punch and Watermelon.  For more information on AmiNo Flow or any other of the amazing products from Muscle Elements please visit