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If you are working to improve your body composition by shedding fat and increasing lean muscle mass, research suggests that you should consider taking branched chain amino acid supplements.
Branched chain amino acids are a special type of amino acids that have side-chains that bind the carbon atoms to multiple carbon atoms. Amino acids of course are the building blocks of proteins, but branched chain amino acids are in a class of their own because they are not synthesized by the body. Instead, they must be obtained through proper nutrition. Branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) include leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
BCAAs improve body composition in a few different ways:
BCAAs are used for protein synthesis.
BCAAs increase the rate of protein synthesis, and the cell’s capacity for protein synthesis. This happens through changes in signaling pathways controlling protein synthesis. BCAAs increase the function of the anabolic pathway known as mTOR. Leucine in particular signals to mTOR that the body has enough protein to synthesize skeletal muscle, which in turn jumpstarts the anabolic process.
BCAAs promote muscle growth.
BCAAs help muscles recover faster after a workout. When you strength train, you are actually getting weaker because you are causing tiny tears in your muscle fibers. You get stronger in the recovery period after the workout as your body repairs the muscles. If you don’t have enough amino acids in your diet to repair the muscles, your body will actually catabolize skeletal muscle tissue to take care of protein needs in the body. Supplementing with BCAAs ensures that your body will always have the building blocks to repair and form muscle tissue.
BCAAs decrease cravings for sweets.
Leucine helps regulate blood sugar by promoting insulin secretion. This reduces cravings for high carb foods. But reducing carb cravings over time, you’ll change your body composition by decreasing body fat promoting sugary foods.
Ok, you’re convinced. Now how should you supplement with BCAAs?
BCAAs are found naturally in a number of foods, but supplementation is an easy and portable way to make sure that you are getting your daily dose. BCAAs should be taken after a workout to help speed muscle recovery. You can take capsules, or you can take a recovery protein shake that includes BCAAs in the mixture (this is my personal preference).
Do you take BCAAs? If so, what changes have you seen in your body composition?
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