* Monday, Sept. 1 at 900a ONLY (Labor Day)
* Carolina Clash for Sept. 13-14 has been cancelled
* Regular training hours have resumed for Sept. 12-14.
BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS: What Are They and Why are They Important?
The past two weeks we have focused on two (2) nutritional supplements that I’m sure many of you were already aware of. The next two (2) weeks we will focus on some supplements that you are probably less aware of. The first is branched chain amino acids (or BCAA’s for short), and next week I will delve into creatine, and quell some of the rumors that are associated with it.
Many of you have asked, or wondered out loud what is in my gallon water container that looks like dish soap, anti-freeze, or a variety of other things that I’ve heard it compared to, let me stop the rumors and let you know it is powdered BCAA’s. BCAA’s are essential nutrients that the body can only obtain from foods or supplementation. Branch chain amino acids received their name due to the chemical structure of these specific amino acids.
BCAA’s are extremely important to us as athletes due to the fact that they improve exercise performance and reduce protein and muscle breakdown during intense exercise. BCAA’s are different from many other types of amino acids due to the fact that they are not broken down in the liver. Instead they bypass the liver and are transported directly to the muscle. Once in the muscle, BCAA’s not only provide a significant role in protein synthesis, but they also help provide extra energy during an intense training session, help reduce muscle breakdown, and fight the mental drain that occurs throughout the course of a workout. Additionally BCAA’s can be broken down by the muscles to be used as an energy source, thus allowing you to perform at a high level longer.
There are three (3) essential amino acids that belong in the BCAA group, they are leucine, isoleucine, and valine, and they are obtained from meats, dairy, legumes and supplementation. Leucine is quickly gaining recognition as the most important amino acid for the generation of muscle. Additionally it can help decrease fatigue and lower muscle stress. Leucine has the potential to not only stimulate muscle protein synthesis but also decrease muscle degradation. BCAA’s help reduce muscle loss by stimulating the body to release insulin. Research that has been published in the Journal of the International Society of Sport Nutrition has shown that insulin provides an important role in preventing the breakdown of muscle mass following the physical stress that is associated with weight lifting, running and exercise in general.
BCAA’s can assist in pushing through the mental and physical fatigue that your body perceives during an intense workout. BCAA’s are competing with another amino acid, Tryptophan, for entry into the brain. When in Tryptophan enters the brain it can be converted into serotonin. While serotonin is good, during an intense workout it increases perception of fatigue and tiredness within your body. BCAA’s lower the amount of Tryptophan that enters your brain and therefore decreases the amount of serotonin produced by your body during the workout, thus allowing you to maintain high energy output longer.
BCAA’s can be taken anytime throughout the day, however for the most benefit they should be taken before or after workouts and preferably on an empty stomach to avoid absorption competition with other amino acids. Both SFH Fortified and SFH Recovery protein contain BCAA’s already within their powder. If you take either of these proteins you are already receiving the benefits of BCAA’s, however if you are not, this may be something that you want to seriously consider incorporating into your diet.
If you have any questions about BCAA’s or any other supplements please ask any member of the coaching staff and we will be happy to provide you information or show you where to do the research.
Coming up next week we have our final installment on nutritional supplements, Creatine.