First, What Are Amino Acids?
BCAAs belong to a group called amino acids. Amino acids are what is left once we digest proteins. Our body collects, organizes and puts them back together as proteins we need. Proteins make up 75% of our entire body.
It’s like cutting down a tree to make paper. We can’t use a log as paper until it is processed, broken down to fibres, bleached or coloured and pressed back together. Our bodies do something similar when we eat proteins.
Think of it this way, you eat a can of tuna after a workout. Do you think the muscle you build as you recover is actually made of the tuna you ate?
Our muscles are quite different and need to be specific to us, like a car or computer part. Tuna muscle will not allow us to function in the way we need to. We break it down into its basic parts, pick out what we need in which amounts, and build our muscles from the building blocks that are required.
Those building blocks are amino acids.
OK, Now What Are BCAAs?
BCAAs are a group of three amino acids that have a unique structure quality. It stands for Branched Chain Amino Acids.
Isoleucine (pictured above) is one of these three. See the connecting lines between the H atoms and two of the C atoms?
Those connecting lines are branched chains.
Think of it as a tree.
There is more than one of the same atom in a row (C), which makes up the trunk. The trunk atoms have other atoms connected to them (H), but not each other, making the branches.
This only happens with the three amino acids in the BCAA category.
These three amino acids are considered essential because our bodies cannot make them on their own. BCAAs must be consumed through diet or supplements.
My Body Doesn’t Make Them…Why Do I Need Them?
The first reason we need BCAAs is that they are broken down differently. Most amino acids are broken down in the liver during normal digestion in order to build or rebuild the parts of our bodies that need proteins.
BCAAs, however, mostly break down in the muscles and provide us with much-needed energy during exercise.
They also combat exercise-induced fatigue by limiting the amount of tryptophan (the substance in turkey that makes you drowsy) released by the brain.
Of the three BCAAs, Leucine provides the most benefit in muscle recovery after a workout.
However, taking Leucine alone can have detrimental effects on the health and wellness of the person taking it. When taking BCAAs for athletic purposes (working out), always look for a 2:1:1 ratio, which is two parts Leucine, one part Isoleucine and one part Valine.
Safe amounts of BCAAs (natural and supplement combined) help regulate your blood sugar levels. Blood sugar is one of the main concerns when it comes to metabolism manipulation and weight control. This makes BCAAs one of the main tools for getting a fit and healthy body.
How BCAAs regulate blood sugar is by increasing insulin production. This causes the muscles to absorb more of the blood’s glucose content instead of storing it in the liver as glycogen. That means you become less likely to store excess energy as fat and more likely to use energy from food.
Always maintain a healthy, balanced diet if you are using BCAA supplements.
WARNING: Taking more than the recommended amounts of BCAA’s, Leucine, in particular, can lower your blood sugar too much and cause hypoglycemia. Always follow recommendations when using supplements.
As mentioned above, BCAAs regulate blood sugar, improve muscle production and increase energy/decrease fatigue during exercise.
These three things work together and make it much easier and more enjoyable to maintain a healthy weight.
Insulin and glucagon are the two hormones that control the glucose in your system. Insulin tells glucose to enter the muscles to be used as energy or stored in the liver as glycogen, lowering blood sugar. Glucagon tells the liver to convert glycogen to glucose and release it to the bloodstream when the level is too low.
Both insulin and glucagon are produced and regulated by the pancreas.
When insulin is produced steadily in healthy amounts and our insulin sensitivity is high, we use energy instead of storing it. This stops the liver from storing glycogen and our body burns energy efficiently.
More muscle means more glucose is consumed, making it faster to reach and maintain healthy body weight.
Lastly, more energy and less fatigue mean exercise without feeling dragged down, which allows us to burn more energy.
These three benefits of BCAAs make it necessary on the way to being fit and healthy.
Where Do I Get Good BCAAs and How Much Do I Take?
At MetaFire Nutrition, we ensure that all of our products exceed industry standards because we believe you deserve the best.
With the premium MetaBCAA formula, the recommended serving size is half of the provided scoop (6.5g) but can be increased to a full scoop if needed.
Simply pour a glass (8-10oz) of cold, purified water and stir in the half scoop of MetaBCAA. Because of the makeup of any BCAA mix, it takes a few minutes to fully dissolve.
Stir it until the powder is wet, leave it for a minute or two, then stir again.
It’s great with ice.
Our formula provides you with the following per half-scoop:
– 2000mg Leucine
– 1000mg Isoleucine
– 1000mg Valine
– 1000mg Glutamine
– 2.5mg Vitamin B6
To stay within the recommended daily intake of BCAAs, do not consume more than two full scoops (26g) of MetaBCAA in a 24-hour period.
For more information on using MetaBCAA as part of a fitness program, check out MetaFire Weight Loss!