The Versatile Variations Of BCAAs

A total of 22 amino acids come from proteins. Some are non-essential, some are conditionally essential. Then there's the essential variety and a subset of those called branched chain amino acids. Confused? Let us straighten out this tangled web of metabolic wonders.

Non-essential amino acids can be produced by your body. So can the conditionally essential amino acids, but certain 'conditions' – including strenuous exercise – can create a need for more than your system can provide within the optimal timeframe. Now your body cannot produce essential amino acids at all. They can only be taken in through diet and supplementation, which is important since these serve as the building blocks of muscle tissue. Included among the 8 essential amino acids are 3 with a branched chain chemical structure that play an incredibly versatile role in muscle building and maintenance. The branched chain amino acids (or BCAAs) are leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

What makes BCAAs so special? The combination of these 3 amino acids makes up about a third of your skeletal muscle tissue. Because they are metabolized directly in the muscle, unlike other aminos that have to travel first to your liver, BCAAs can help spare carbs and other amino acid groups, taking on the lion's share of muscle repair and rebuilding. They provide over 50% of your body's nitrogen requirements, giving them a prominent role in promoting nitrogen balance. An imbalance or deficit of nitrogen sets the stage for catabolism (when muscle breakdown occurs).


Let's get back to the concept of sparing for a moment. If you've been cutting back on carbohydrates, either to prepare for a competition or just to lose some fat before beach season, adequate intake of BCAAs can support muscle mass by freeing up other aminos to be burned as fuel during intense exercise. When your body runs out of carbohydrate-based glycogen to power heavy lifts and cardio, it turns to amino acids as the next best source.

Last, but certainly not least, BCAAs play a crucial role in protein synthesis, a big part of the process of building muscle. So if big, strong muscles are important to you, BCAAs should figure prominently into your supplementation strategy. Thanks to ON's innovative spirit, you have a number of options for consuming them.

In Powder form, BCAAs can be mixed into a protein or carbohydrate shake for muscle-building fortification. Being unflavored and instantized makes this strategy that much easier to follow. Some formulations include creatine for those inclined toward adding a strength element to the mix. BCAA Capsules present athletes with anytime, anywhere convenience, since the typical 2 cap serving can easily fit into a pocket, purse or whatever. You can even get your BCAAs bundled with other amino acids in capsule, tablet, softgel or liquid form. Which ever supplementation method you chose, eat clean, lift heavy and rest easy knowing your lean mass definitely has something to build on.
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