If you read any article on the benefits of branched chain amino acid (BCAA) supplementation you’ll likely see some of the following more common benefits of BCAA supplementation listed
-Improve muscle recovery
-Prevent muscle breakdown
-Increase endurance times
-Support muscle growth.
Those four are pretty simple to understand.There’s a reason I listed them in the specific order since the top three are pretty cut and dry but how do BCAAS support muscle growth?
That’s where the science gets little complex.
Boosting muscle protein synthesis.
Building muscle is just an everyday way to describe the process of muscle protein synthesis which describes the mechanical process of increasing the size and thickness of muscle fibers. When you lift a weight you break down a muscle which then has to heal itself. If you’re feeding it the proper nutrients and resting it, the muscle will slowly grow back bigger and stronger.
BCAAS has been shown to increase the muscle protein synthesis process above and beyond regular whole food protein. Since BCAAS act directly on skeletal muscle tissue they can elevate protein synthesis levels beyond normal protein.
BCAAS and Muscle Breakdown
Indirectly BCAAS support muscle growth because they reduce protein breakdown.As stated above, when you lift weights you break down muscle tissue. Taking BCAS before or during your workout(we love intra workout BCAA use) has been shown to decrease the pathways involved in muscle break down. Of course you’ll still have a degree of muscle breakdown but BCAAS will decrease some of the processes. Further studies have shown BCAAS to slow down muscle catabolism but this is why we love BCAAs as a supplement for fasted training.
Now we’re seeing the muscle building benefits of BCAAs. They increase muscle protein synthesis and they reduce muscle break down.
BCAAS and Endurance Training
Going back to our original list from above, we’re attempting to answer how BCAAs support muscle growth and we’ve already touched on how they prevent muscle breakdown and improve muscle recovery but does endurance have anything to do with muscle growth? We explore how burpees boost endurance in our tactical burpee conditioning workout article.
Sure it does. From a physical stand point, the better shape you are in then the more work you can perform. Yes, even traditional bodybuilding training will get better especially if you're using functional bodybuilding.
During a workout your serotonin levels rise which can increase neurological fatigue so you’ll slow down. BCAAS have been shown to reduce the serotonin precursor, tryptophan, and lowers the amount of serotonin. The longer you can operate efficiently, the better you’ll be able to train at a higher peak and increase muscle growth.
To summarize, BCAAS support muscle growth by directly acting on muscle tissue and by preventing muscle breakdown.