The three essential branched chain amino acids are leucine, valine and isoleucine. These are termed "essential" because your body cannot synthesize them from other nutrients, so they must be ingested in food or supplements. These amino acids make up about 35% of your muscle tissue, and they have the most metabolic potential (stored) energy for use by your muscles. Your body uses leucine, valine and isoleucine as components for muscle energy.
There are a total of eight to ten essential amino acids, depending on whether your body has enough other nutrients to synthesize arginine and histadine, they are either essential or conditionally essential. The other five essential amino acids are phynelalanine, methionine, tryptophane, threonine and lysine. Your body needs all ten essential amino acids in correct proportions, and is able to store unused ones until all ten are present in your body in the correct proportions. Free amino acids are the ones that your body has stored for use.
BCAAs are rapidly taken up and digested by the body to be distributed into the bloodstream and metabolized by your body. When BCAAs are consumed as supplements, they quickly raise the supply available in your blood. During a workout, if your body depletes its stored source of glucose, your energy levels are maintained by utilizing BCAAs and fatty acids.
Branched chain amino acids are essential for muscle growth and development and for building cells and repairing tissues. They carry nitrogen into your muscles to synthesize other amino acids by combining them to form muscle tissue. BCAAs build RNA and DNA. BCAAs also stimulate insulin production, which allows blood sugar to be taken up by your muscles and be used as energy.
Your body uses BCAAs to prevent fatigue in your nervous system. Fatigue occurs when your uptake of trytophan by your brain increases, increasing the level of serotonin. This increase of serotonin makes you feel tired and fatigued. Endurance athletes use BCAAs before and after working out to decrease recovery time between events, improve physical and mental performance, and to reduce the levels of lactic acid, which causes soreness.
BCAAs, unlike other essential amino acids, are oxidized rather than broken down in the liver. Then, they are transported directly into the bloodstream through the liver. Your liver converts BCAAs into oxo-Keto acids. Your muscles and fat tissue then oxidize the oxo-Keto acids.
Leucine is essential to your liver to balance the amount of nitrogen intake. It helps your body to maintain bone strength, replenish skin and muscle tissue, and in maintain low blood pressure. Leucine is used in large quantities by your muscles during workouts. Studies have shown that leucine helps fat cells to be released for energy, and preserves muscle tissue during dieting. Your body can use leucine for energy or convert it into glatamine or alanine to use for energy.
Food sources of BCAAs include dairy, red meat, legumes (such as peas, peanuts, beans, soy, lentils, and alfalfa), corn, brown rice, eggs, fish, whole wheat, mushrooms, soy protein, nuts, and chickpeas (garbanzo beans).
To get the most out of your workouts, proper nutrition and supplementation can provide many benefits. Branched chain amino acids are one example of nutrients that can increase your performance level while helping you to avoid soreness and fatigue.
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