Next to creatine, protein and omega-3 fatty acids, branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) — consisting of leucine, isoleucine, and valine — are among the most popular sports supplements in the world today.
Trumpeted by 3-time Mr. Olympia Frank Zane, who claims to “have been doing massive doses of amino acids” since the 1960s, BCAAs have been shown to spur muscle growth/prevent muscle wasting, decrease muscle soreness and reduce fatigue while exercising.
A 2017 study showed that people who consumed 5.6 grams of BCAAs after their resistance workouts had a 22 percent greater increase in muscle protein synthesis compared to those who did not. (Why 5.6 grams was decided on — as opposed to 5.5 or 5.7 grams — is a mystery best pondered after 10.2 shots of tequila.)
So, if you’re looking to get the most out of your workouts, check out VPX Amino Rush® 2:2:1 BCAA today!
How Do BCAAs Work?
There are 20 amino acids that comprise the thousands of unique proteins in the human body. Nine of these amino acids are considered “essential” (they are not produced by the body and must be obtained through one’s diet) and three of the essential amino acids — leucine, isoleucine, and valine — have a distinct structure consisting of an aliphatic side-chain with a branch (hence the name “branched-chain” amino acids).
Of the BCAAs, leucine tends to get the most attention. Because of its documented ability to activate mTOR, which stands for mammalian target of rapamycin (sorry for all the Scrabble bonus words), leucine plays a vital role in the body’s use of protein (protein synthesis) and, as a result, typically appears in higher serving ratios than isoleucine and valine in most BCAA products. A 3:1:1 leucine-isoleucine-valine ratio is very common, although the VPX Amino Rush® BCAAs come in a patent-pending 2:2:1 ratio, based on data suggesting that more isoleucine stimulates glucose uptake by the cells.
There is also a fair amount of research — and a ton of bro-science — suggesting that BCAAs can help mitigate muscle soreness after a workout. This soreness, called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) by real scientists and other, more colorful terms by bro-scientists, can last up to 72 hours.
What exactly causes DOMS is not completely understood, but most experts believe it’s the result of the micro-tears that occur in the muscles during heavy training. BCAAs help by decreasing protein breakdown as well as creatine kinase levels (an indicator of muscle damage) during exercise.
Of course, the sooner one’s muscles recover, the sooner one can resume making “gainz” (bro-science speak for muscle growth) in the gym.
BCAAs are also believed to reduce fatigue (or at least the perception of fatigue) during exercise; again, this is helpful in that it allows more work to get done and, thus, at least theoretically, more “gainz.”
Leucine is so crucial to good health that it deserves its own section. According to the National Library of Medicine: “Leucine contributes to the regulation of blood-sugar levels; growth and repair of muscle and bone tissue; growth hormone production; and wound healing. Leucine also prevents the breakdown of muscle proteins after trauma or severe stress and may be beneficial for individuals with phenylketonuria [a genetic disorder that causes phenylalanine to build up in the body, which can cause a host of serious issues].”
In a 2017 study, a group of 48 people (five dropped out due to injury) aged 55-75 were evaluated over a 12-week period. They exercised for 30 minutes — using a Nintendo Wii, no less — three times per week, with some receiving a leucine-rich supplement and some receiving a placebo.
“The principle findings show that leucine-rich amino acid supplementation can counteract the negative effects of eccentric exercise [exercises featuring the lowering of weight]. The [leucine] treatment resulted in a reduction of exercise-induced strength loss,” the study pointed out.
So, if you’re a serious gym-goer, be sure to grab a canister of Amino Rush® 2:2:1 BCAA today!