Protein, Branched Chain Amino Acids and Muscle Loss

branched chain amino acids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Protein is so important that when the Greeks named it, they called it protos, which means “to come first.” Of the “big three” macronutrients, only protein has the unique distinction of being directly responsible for building, repairing, and maintaining muscle tissue.

Muscle tissue is absolutely essential for optimizing metabolism and improving body composition. Proteins are made up of some or all of the possible 20 amino acids. The body cannot use the protein you eat unless all 20 of the necessary amino acids are present. Our bodies are quite remarkable. We are able to produce 11 amino acids naturally; however, the remaining nine essential amino acids must be obtained from the foods that we eat.

These essential amino acids are: phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, visoleucine, methionine, leucine, lysine, and histidine. However, the one we want to focus on is leucine.

Leucine, a branched chain amino acid or BCAA, has been recently shown to exert fat burning and muscle sparing benefits during calorie restriction.

Researchers from the University of Utah studied 10 climbers for 6-8 weeks as they ascended Mt. Everest in the Himalayas. The researchers were studying the physiological benefits of adding leucine to the climbers’ diets to help them stay healthy. It is known that climbing at high altitudes, with its extreme weather conditions, low oxygen levels, treacherous terrain and strenuous exercise always results in fat and muscle loss.

Climbers often cannot or do not eat enough calories causing them to lose both fat and muscle during an arduous climb. At high altitudes, fat and muscle loss occurs not only when they are climbing, but also at rest.

According to reasearcher Wayne Askew, Ph.D., and his co-investigator, Stacie Wing-Gaia, Ph.D.,a disproportionate amount of muscle loss occurs during these strenuous climbs. However, supplementing with the amino acid Leucine appeared to slow this muscle wasting.

The big problem is palatability- leucine just doesn’t taste that good. This is a problem that exists with all branched chain amino acids.

Leucine can be found in many foods such as egg whites, soybeans, lentils and beef. However this may not be the ideal delivery method (especially as a peri workout strategy- picture some guy eating egg whites between sets…not good). Personally I prefer to get my BCAA’s from my protein supplement as I find it inconvenient and time consuming to prepare all my meals from whole foods.

During a restrictive calorie fat loss phase I recommend supplementing with 5 grams of BCAA’s pre workout, another 5 grams during your workout and a final 10 grams (or more) after your workout.

This will go a long way to ensuring you keep your hard earned muscle while working to shed those pounds of fat that are obscuring your definition.

This post was written by

Bruce – who has written posts on Cutting edge muscle building and fat loss secrets.
bruce krahn is a best-selling author, writer, researcher, personal trainer and professional speaker. he has coached people for two decades both in person and online. he created this site to be an honest source of useful, practical information you can use to improve your health, build muscle, lose fat and get the lean body look.

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About

bruce krahn is a best-selling author, writer, researcher, personal trainer and professional speaker. he has coached people for two decades both in person and online. he created this site to be an honest source of useful, practical information you can use to improve your health, build muscle, lose fat and get the lean body look.

3 Responses to “Protein, Branched Chain Amino Acids and Muscle Loss”

  1. Randal Ioannidis says:

    Researchers have known about leucine for decades, but exciting new research has shed a new and broader light on this important health-promoting amino acid`”",:

    Regards http://foodsupplementdigest.com/can-i-use-melatonin-with-lexapro/

  2. Cathryn Buchwald says:

    Phenylalanine is necessary for the neurotransmitter production in our brain. It also helps with anxiety and depression by synthesizing serotonin which calms the mind and makes us feel good. ““*.

    Have a great day!
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