Key TERMS

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You will be reading a few scientific words in this article. Here is a quick list of all of the definitions you will need for reference. Also, all of the words with definitions will be underlined in the article.
 
* BCAA: Also known as Branched-Chain Amino Acids, this supplement has amino acids leucine, isoleucine,and valine.
* Hypertrophy : an increase in the size of the cell
* Hyperplasia : an increase in the number of muscle fibres
* Protein Synthesis : the process by which amino acids are linearly arranged into proteins

DIRECT INCREASE IN PROTEIN SYNTHESIS

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Firstly, Branched-Chain Amino Acids, or BCAAs, directly increase the rate of the metabolic process of protein synthesis. In doing so, they also reduce protein breakdown. An increased BCAA level will decrease the expression of several complexes involved in protein breakdown through decreasing the amount of mRNA produced for that task. These two factors are key to muscle gain through hypertrophy: increasing synthesis and decreasing breakdown of proteins.

increased intensity

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Second, amino acid supplementation has also proven to provide a more intense workout. BCAAs regulate the amount of tryptophan released to the brain. Tryptophan is the precursor to serotonin which makes people feel more awake / energetic. Due to the increase of serotonin production, BCAAs allow for a more intense and drawn-out resistance training session. This effect is confirmed by a study titled, “Daily L-leucine supplementation in novice trainees during a 12-week weight training program.” L-leucine is the most prevalent amino acid in BCAA supplements. In the study, it was found that four grams of L-leucine per day enhances strength performance during a 12-week resistance training program of initially untrained male participants.

MUSCLE REPAIR

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Third, branched-chain amino acids regulate glucose. With sufficient BCAA levels, glucose uptake and insulin sensitivity can be improved. They produce most of the blood sugar during workouts. Proper BCAA supplementation can result in an insulin response that helps transport aminos into cells to repair muscle damage and build muscle tissue.
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SUMMARY

Branched-Chain Amino Acids, or BCAAs, contain three amino acids: leucine, valine, and isoleucine. However, leucine is used most commonly out of the three. For this reason, BCAA supplements provide a ratio between leucine and the other two BCAAs. Ratios for BCAA supplements range from 2:1:1 all the way up to 10:1:1. With that being said, research proves that with leucine, more is not better. A study based in Baylor University gave 20-24 year olds either a pure leucine supplement, a 2:1:1 BCAA mix or a placebo. It was found that muscle protein synthesis was found more in the 2:1:1 ratio than the leucine and the placebo. With this research, it is proved that BCAAs increase muscle protein synthesis and increase anaerobic endurance. 

Branched Chain Amino Acid's Role in Protein Anabolism Versus Protein Catabolism to Build Muscle

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