Amino Acids Guide
Meet leucine, isoleucine, and valine - three amino acids classified separately from the rest of the amino acids as branched chain amino acids (BCAAs). Why do they get such special treatment and what are they good for anyway?
One reason they're classified differently is because of their unique structure. Unlike the rest of amino acids that have linear carbon bonds, BCAAs have one or more points that are not linear or continuous. They're branched! Hence, the name.
BCAAs also metabolize or break down differently than other amino acids. The majority of your BCAAs head straight to your muscle tissue. During exercise, your muscles break down BCAAs for fuel. This actually protects your muscles because it makes carbohydrates and energy more available to them. That means less protein breakdown and less soreness for you.
Strength, power, endurance. Three amino acids, three great results. If you're looking to strengthen and tone your muscles or to improve your performance, it's worth it to make sure you're getting your BCAAs from your diet.
It isn't a serious workout if you aren't sore after, right? Wrong. After a serious workout, soreness and muscle damage slow you down for days. Thankfully, branched chain amino acids speed postexercise recovery.
Make your workout recovery drink complete with all branched chain amino acids. Note what the Journal of International Sports Nutrition found:
- They gave half of their male research subjects a BCAA supplement. - Half of their research group were given a placebo.
- Time for some muscle damage! Researchers subjected the men to an eccentric workout to induce muscle damage.
- One hundred consecutive drop-jumps later the researchers measured the degree of muscle damage and soreness each group experienced.
- Those given a BCAA supplement experienced accelerated recovery and less damage. You know that revved-up rush of euphoria feeling after a workout? Still there! What about the group with no BCAAs to protect their muscles? Unfortunately, the feeling faded pretty quickly since there were far more markers of muscle damage.
Keep in mind, you're preventing more than just that uncomfortable ache that soreness puts you through. Your trillions of cells are just as happy to deal with less inflammation and oxidative stress thanks to BCAAs.
So, where can you find BCAAs? Milk, yogurt, and cheese are all excellent sources of high-quality whey. Whey is the richest source of leucine out there. You can also supplement and recover with an EnergyFirst ProEnergy shake with whey protein isolate to cover your BCAAs.
You'll also find whey in lean cuts of chicken or beef, eggs, fish, beans, lentils, chick peas, oats, almonds, quinoa, corn, or brown rice.
J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012 Jul 12;9:20.
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