Nutrition 101: All About Essential Amino Acids & Branched Chain Amino Acids

There are 20 different amino acids that make up thousands of proteins in our bodies. Their molecules bond to form proteins, the building blocks of life and are completely essential if you're working out. We hear a lot about EAA's and BCAA's and find them available at every nutrition store. But what exactly are amino acids and how do they work?

What are EAAs?

Of the 21 amino acids there are, 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) or indispensable amino acids, namely isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, histidine, and valine. They are called 'essential' amino acids because the body cannot produce them on its own. Since these amino acids are not in adequate supply in the body, we must acquire them through diet. Essential amino acids are shown to provide as much muscle protein synthesis as whey protein itself. Pretty powerful right?

Along with Essential Amino Acids, there are Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs). Let's check out what these BCAAs are.

What are BCAA's?

BCAA's are Branched Chain Amino Acids. These three essential amino acids have unique characteristics—Isoleucine, valine, and leucine. They are metabolized by the body and used as sources of muscle energy. EAAs and BCAAs cannot be made and synthesized within the human body, and must be obtained through your diet. The term branched-chain refers to the chemical structure of BCAAs.

What Function Do they Serve Within the Body & How Do They Relate to Working Out?

Amino acids and protein are considered essential among athletes. There are numerous studies highlighting the benefits of amino acids and sports performance. Science tells us that they aid in the following ways:

1. Increased Muscle Growth

One of the most popular benefits of BCAAs is increased muscle growth. BCAAs, particularly leucine, activate pathways within the body that stimulate muscle protein synthesis, increasing muscle size. A study showed that people who drank 5.6 grams of BCAAs after resistance workouts had a 22% greater increase in muscle mass.

2. Reduces Muscle Soreness and Fatigue

BCAAs may help reduce fatigue and soreness after workouts. Anyone who has tried adopting a workout routine can tell you fatigue and soreness are two of the biggest challenges. Muscle soreness is delayed onset muscle soreness. By decreasing muscle damage during exercise, BCAAs have been shown to help reduce soreness and fatigue from workouts.

Decreased fatigue also helps athletes maintain high endurance levels so they can train harder and longer. Several studies have shown that BCAAs decrease protein breakdown during workouts, decreasing creatine Kinase levels, an indicator of muscle damage.

3. Prevents Your Muscles from Wasting

Muscle wasting will occur when the body is not getting enough proper nutrition. It can also occur with chronic infections, certain types of cancers, and aging. BCAAs can help prevent muscle wasting or breakdown in all of these scenarios. Since muscle proteins, like any other cell in the body, are constantly broken down and rebuilt, maintaining the balance between breakdown and synthesis is vital. BCAAs account for 35% of the amino acids found in muscle protein.

4. Is Beneficial for People With Liver Disease

BCAAs are believed to improve the overall health of patients suffering from liver cirrhosis, a chronic illness that prevents the liver from functioning properly. Medical professionals have estimated that almost half of people suffering from liver cirrhosis develop hepatic encephalopathy, the loss of brain function as toxins build up in the body.

The primary therapy options for hepatic encephalopathy include certain sugars and antibodies, but BCAAs show great promise in alleviating symptoms.

In conclusion, if you're working out for a healthier lifestyle, taking a BCAAs/EAA every day will make your journey a lot easier. It may also shorten the time it takes to see results. Get yourself quality EAAs/BCAAs like Legacy's STACK'd here.


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