BCAA: Nine of the 20 are considered essential amino acids, meaning they cannot be made by your body and must be obtained through your diet. Of the nine essential amino acids, three are the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): leucine, isoleucine and valine. “Branched-chain” refers to the chemical structure of BCAAs, which are found in protein-rich foods such as eggs, meat and dairy products. They are also a popular dietary supplement sold primarily in powder form.
BOOST ENERGY SUPPLEMENTS: Glycogen stored in muscles is a readily available energy source. So, when blood sugars are too low, contracting muscles will use the fuel stored within them to get the job done. This is where the branched-chain amino acid, isoleucine, shines by promoting glucose uptake by muscles. Greater uptake means less energy is stored as fat resulting in quicker energy access for the muscle.
INCREASE MUSCLE GROWTH: One of the most popular uses of BCAAs is to increase muscle growth. The BCAA leucine activates a certain pathway in the body that stimulates muscle protein synthesis, which is the process of making muscle. In one study, people who consumed a drink with 5.6 grams of BCAAs after their resistance workout had a 22% greater increase in muscle protein synthesis compared to those who consumed a placebo.
WEIGHT LOSS BCAA: Branched-chain amino acids may help prevent weight gain and enhance fat loss. In fact, observational studies report that those consuming an average of 15 grams of BCAAs from their diet each day may have up to 30% lower risk of becoming overweight or obese than those consuming an average of 12 grams per day.
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