The BCAA myth

Branched Chain Amino Acids

Of all the supplements on the market, Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) seem to be the most recently and highly debated one. Various trials regarding the benefits and best ratio have also been conducted.

BCAAs (Leucine, Iso-Leucine and Valine) form part of the 9 Essential Amino Acids (USN ALL9TM  AMINO), which the body is unable to produce and are vital for various body functions. It is important to understand that amino acids have various roles to play in the body, of which one of the most important being the building blocks of protein, which in turn make up muscle tissue.

Benefits of BCAA

In the sporting/fitness industry BCAAs have been highly accredited for the following beneficial roles:

• Promotes muscle protein synthesis
• Prolongs endurance and stamina
• Prevents muscle breakdown for metabolism
• Reduces the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
• Assists uptake of free form amino acids

According to scientific research, it has been proven that BCAA supplementation prior to resistance training reduces the effects of DOMS and muscular fatigue. More specifically, Leucine has been proven to have a very significant effect on enhancing protein synthesis (anabolism) and inhibition of protein degradation (catabolism).  It is therefore imperative to take into account that exercise induces peak levels of muscle tissue catabolism via amino acid oxidation (breakdown). The pathway in which this muscle safeguarding mechanism works, is due to the increase in intracellular and arterial BCAA levels, which in turn suppresses the utilization of muscle protein for energy.

Taking these claims into account, also raises debates regarding when the optimal time would be to consume BCAAs, as well as what the most effective ratio of BCAAs is.

When to take BCAAs

The debate regarding the most effective time to consume BCAAs is broken down into 3 time periods:

1. Before Workout
2. Intra-workout
3. Post-workout

It has been proven that consuming BCAAs prior vs after training, renders the same results regarding improved muscle recovery, long term strength enhancement and muscle growth.

Alternatively, it has been scientifically proven that consuming BCAAs during exercise has a drastic effect in reducing muscle damage in exercises performed until exhaustion. The mechanism in which this occurs, is via the “sparing” of muscle amino acids, and the utilization of the “free form” BCAAs consumed, which in turn prolongs endurance.

It is therefore important to take into consideration what other supplements are being used along with your BCAA supplement, to determine when it will be most optimal to consume the BCAA supplement. If you are already using a post-workout recovery drink (USN BlueLab 100% Whey), it would be beneficial to consume your BCAAs during exercise, or alternatively if you are using a pre-workout supplement, it would be useful to consume BCAAs during or after exercise.

BCAA ratio

The final “grey area” of discussion, is the BCAA ratio. The BCAA ratio is made up of Leucine, Iso-leucine and Valine. Many ratios are utilized by sports nutrition brands, 2:1:1; 3:1:1; 4:1:1 etc. Leucine (the first value indicated in the ratio) is regarded as the most anabolic amino acid, with a very effective protein synthesis catalyst effect. The discussion surrounding the ratio, is investigating which ratio is most effective on the grounds of the body’s ability to fully absorb the nutrients. To date the most investigated ratio is 2:1:1. It has been noted that this ratio is the natural ratio which is prevalent in the muscle tissue. According to research 2-3.5g of Leucine is seen as to be the most effective dosage per serving to gain maximum effects and absorption, of which all of these aspects coincide with USN ALL9™ AMINO.

All in all, BCAAs are a great supplementary tool to assist in improving performance during exercise and speeding up the recovery process post-workout. BCAAs should never replace any form of nutrition in the diet, but instead it should be added to the diet to give yourself that extra edge in assisting you in obtaining your desired training goals.

USN BCAA Enriched Products:
BCAA 12:1:1