Aselina Kravchenko
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Branched-chain amino acids

Branched-chain amino acids are three amino acids with similar structures that beneficially influence the muscles: Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. They can be found in any food containing protein, such as meat.

Protein is what supplies the building blocks necessary to repair and build muscle tissue after your workout is complete. These proteins will then be broken down and disassembled into amino acids. There are 22 different amino acids in the body, all of which have a unique function.

Some of them cannot be manufactured by the body itself. Branched-chain amino acids play a critical role in muscle development, they are needed by anyone, who works out in the gym. We train hard almost every day and want to reserve lean muscle while preventing catabolism. Supplementation is not necessary, but BCAAs may benefit the body if taken at specific times.

Since the 1980's there has been high interest in BCAAs by sports nutrition scientists.
The metabolism of BCAAs is involved in some specific biochemical muscle processes and many studies have been carried out to understand whether sports performance can be enhanced by a BCAAs supplementation. However, many of these researches have failed to confirm this hypothesis.

BCAA supplementation has been used to aid in the recovery of burn victims. But later that concept of nutrition supplemented with all BCAAs for burns, trauma and sepsis was abandoned for a leucine-only-supplemented nutrition that required further evaluation. BCAAs were also used in the treatment of some cases of hepatic encephalopathy.

In recent years sport investigators have changed their research target and focused on the effects of BCAA on the muscle protein matrix and the immune system.

Data show that BCAAs supplementation before and after exercise has beneficial affects for decreasing exercise-induced muscle damage and promoting muscle-protein synthesis. Muscle damage develops delayed onset muscle soreness: a syndrome that occurs 24-48 h after intensive physical activity that can inhibit athletic performance.

Other recent works indicate that BCAAs supplementation recovers peripheral blood mononuclear cell proliferation in response to mitogens after a long distance intense exercise, as well as plasma glutamine concentration.

The BCAAs also modifies the pattern of exercise-related cytokine production, leading to a diversion of the lymphocyte immune response.

According to these findings, it is possible to consider the BCAA as a useful supplement for muscle recovery and immune regulation for sports events.

It's necessary to supplement BCAAs before your workout, after it and sometimes during the training to promote the endurance and immediate muscle recover. Athletes usually take about 120 milligrams of BCAAs per kg, that is approximately 5-10 grams as a portion. One of the most recent researches suggests that the maximum daily dosage shouldn’t exceed 30 grams, but it can be increased according to the weight of athlete, the hardeness of his workout and the pre-competition period.

By the way, a regular dose measured in teaspoons is 1 teaspoon with no heap. If you eat much with lots of protein, the benefit of these amino acids may be limited. Isoleucine can be found in most food sources and it is particularly high in meat, fish, and cheese products. The food sources of leucine is mainly such quality protein foods as beans, brown rice and corn. Valine can be found in soy flour, fish, meat, cottage cheese, grains, mushrooms, peanuts and vegetables.

The favourite fruit of athlets, banana, is rich in many essential amino acids, including BCAAs. The content of leucine is 320 mg per gram, isoleucine – 250 mg, valine – 260 mg. Also it may be enough portion of amino acids in you protein cocktail or gainer.

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