Branched Chain What? – Why Supplement with Amino Acids & the Many Benefits

 You’ve seen people in your boot camp class drinking purple and red drinks before, during, and even after their workouts.  Surely you’re wondering why they are drinking kool-aid in the middle of their workout.  What you are actually seeing them drink are Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs).  

Branched Chain what?


Hold the phone before you get overwhelmed with the fancy names. In simple terms, these people are drinking these BCAAs to aid their muscle recovery and development of the muscles in their body.  Branched chain amino acids play an essential role in our training for muscle recovery, building strength and helping increase your lean muscle mass.  BCAAs help decrease muscle protein breakdown, thus making you less sore after workouts and feeling perhaps a bit more energized. Most importantly, it has been shown that BCAAs stimulates protein synthesis. (Perhaps even more so than just taking protein supplements alone). They not only increase the rate of synthesis, but also increase the body’s (or cells’) capacity for it. That means they are creating an environment inside your body that promotes maintenance and growth of lean muscle mass. Helping to keep the body from needing to break down muscle mass for fuel during your workouts.


The human body is made up of thousands of proteins.  Proteins are the building blocks of the human body and the building blocks of those proteins are what we call amino acids.  Our body uses amino acids to break down food, to grow and develop, to repair body tissue, and to perform several other body functions.


There are 20 amino acids in the body that are classified in three different groups: essential amino acids, nonessential amino acids and conditional amino acids.  That purple drink that your workout buddy is drinking contains three of those essential amino acids.  You may be wondering why just three of them, what about the other 17 amino acids that we need?


We have 9 essential amino acids in our bodies and this means our body cannot produce them on its own so we must take them in via our diet or supplements.  Of those 9 amino acids, 3 are considered to be branched chain amino acids.  These three are: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.  They are oxidized (used by the body) via the skeletal muscle as opposed to the liver (like all other amino acids).    


Other ways that you are getting BCAAs in your daily diet are coming from your whey protein, eggs, chicken, fish and lean meats.  Often times it is the easiest to drink a scoop of BCAAs during your workout or after your workout but you can drink them at any point in the day.


So why supplement BCAAs if they can be found in the meats you eat or in your whey protein??? Without getting into chemistry too much, the BCAAs found in those foods and whey protein are bound and require digestion to enter the bloodstream. Even though whey protein can be fast digesting, it will still take a few hours (up to several hours) for the amino acids to get into the blood. BCAAs in supplements are free-form and require no digestion. So they can have a more immediate effect on protein synthesis and be used as a “muscle fuel” source or energy during your workout.

With so many supplements and pre-workouts on the market, don’t let these get confused with the power of BCAAs. They are simply essential amino acids that the body needs. We offer BCAAs since they can be so beneficial in retaining muscle mass and body fat reduction.  At Edge Body Omaha we currently offer three great flavors if you are looking to get your own today!  We have grape, fruit punch, and watermelon available for you, so grab a sample the next time you’re in.

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