Branched Chain Amino Acid supplements or BCAA supplements as they are more commonly called have been around for nearly 40 years.
The description ‘branched chain’ is a direct reference to these amino acids’ chemical structure. Two other terms associated with amino acids are Essential and Non-Essential.
Although there are around 20 amino acids that your muscles use for growth there are three that are essential – leucine, isoleucine and valine making up close to a third of those found in your muscle tissue. And it is these 3 that are normally found in your supplement.
Essential and Non- Essential – What does it Mean
First let us get one thing straight. All amino acids are essential so the terms are a bit confusing. The terms are used to separate those amino acids that your body cannot manufacture and must get directly from protein foods and vegetables – these are the ‘essential’ ones. And there are nine of them - histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan and valine.
Non-essential amino-acids can be manufactured by your body using other amino-acids and vitamins.
BCAA Supplements Have Been Studied Intensely
BCCA’s have been studied in great depth by many top scientific groups over the past 30 or 40 years. Early research was very promising.
One of the things that comes through from all these studies is that BCAA’s have an almost impeccable character. In other words they provide significant benefits without risk and the product is reasonably priced.
Initial medical research found that using a BCAA supplement for bed ridden cancer patients on an intravenous feed gave a significant increase in body muscle even though they were inactive. Clearly this created some real interest in the medical world with other uses being investigated.
One investigation found that trained athletes performing under extreme conditions for 3 weeks using a BCAA supplement actually came out with reduced body fat but with an increase in muscle. Normally in such a situation, without the supplement, they would have lost significant muscle mass. Key to this appeared to be that their bodies burnt more fat for fuel thereby helping to retain muscle condition.
What About the Sports Science?
The body building and athletic community did not take long to become aware of these results and sports scientists embarked on their own series of research investigations extending the information then currently available. As a consequence many athletes have made use of BCAA supplements for years. They stimulate the building of protein in muscle with the added benefit of reducing muscle breakdown. Other benefits noted are an enhanced cognitive ability and a suppression of lactic acid formation during rigorous exercise.
The result. The fitness and health market now offers 100′s of BCAA supplement choices.
So is There Any Real Difference Between Labels?
Many suppliers will be quite convincing that their particular product is the best. Many users will swear by their chosen brand. But closer investigation suggests that a lot of them are sourced from the same place and they are essentially the same.
They will have a ratio of 2:1:1 for the three components Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine and will be in what is known as ‘free form.’ This means that they are just straight amino acids and are not bound to anything else.
Despite this they are effective so what is the difference that identifies a modern BCAA supplement?
More Research Gives More Information
So what does this mean? The long held ratio of 2:1:1 was not the most effective for building muscle and enabling preferential loss of stomach or belly fat. A more effective ratio for Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine 4:1:1.
So here we have one clue about how a modern BCAA supplement differs from the rest – it will have the more effective ratio of 4:1:1 rather than the more common 2:1:1.
What Else Should You Know ?
Something that hardly any of us think about is how our body actually absorbs all those good (and not so good) things that we send through our digestive system.
Certainly there is a growing realization that our intestines play a much more significant part in our health and well being than perhaps we have previously thought. But that is about as far as it goes.
It turns out that there are also different amino acid ‘transport systems’ within the gut depending on its type – neutral, dibasic or acidic. I suppose that you could think of them as subway, bus or plane. But if everyone was forced onto the one system it would quickly become overloaded.
And that is the case with your BCAA supplement – these three essential amino acids all use the same ‘neutral’ transport system. When you take your supplement and it reaches your intestine the transport system gets overloaded and not all of it is absorbed. There can also be some unwelcome side effects like gas and bloating in the gut as the excess moves towards the ‘exit’
An Effective Solution For All Of This
If the component parts of your BCAA supplement were in the more effective ratio of 4:1:1 and each was on to a separate ‘transport system’ they would be more effectively absorbed and there would be fewer side effects.
Seems simple but has it been done? Fortunately it has.
BCAA Matrix (TM) has all these features. You might care to think of it as the ultimate Modern BCAA supplement.