BCAA amino acids

03-05-2015
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The branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) have a useful and effective role in every diet, regardless of the sport. These amino acids are leucine, isoleucine and valine.

Although these supplements are available for a length of time and a number of scientific data is available on the benefit of BCAA supplements in training, a lot of people don’t know their effects on humans and how they should be used.

Obviously everybody knows that amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. When you eat protein-rich foods they are broken down to amino acids by the digestion in the stomach; they are sufficiently small to get into the bloodstream. These amino acids have several roles in the body from tissue regeneration to producing chemical substances required for the optimal function of the brain.

What is the difference between essential and non-essential amino acids?

Our body is unable to produce essential amino acids. The required amount should be met by eating foods containing complete proteins (or by combining incomplete protein foods). The essential amino acids are the following: histidine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan and valine. The non-essential amino acids can be produced by our body from vitamins and other amino acids.

The term “non-essential” is liable to mislead us since every amino acid is required to the proper function of metabolism; in fact, there are amino acids, that are practically essential, like glutamine. The non-essential amino acids are: alanine, arginine, ornihtine, aspartic acid, cysteine, cystine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glutathione, glycine, hydroxyproline, proline, serine and tyrosine.

The essential branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) have particular importance to athletes, since they are degraded in the muscles and not in the liver. Following the digestion the proteins are degraded to amino acids that may become the building blocks of muscles or energy source as well. BCAAs make up 35% of the muscles, so it is clear that they are indispensable for building muscles. Even a few minutes of physical exercise (workout) can cause a BCAA (especially L-leucine) deficit in the functional amino acid pool of the body. If this deficit is not dealt with soon enough, it would hinder the desired muscle gain.


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