For many years BCAA’s have been used in medical science for burn victims as it had been found to speed up muscle growth and decrease recovery time.
Recent studies have now emarged that BCAA’s have an even greater benefit in calorie deficient diets and for purposes of fat loss.The effects are three-pronged as BCAA’s decrease appetite while increasing metabolism, decrease the breakdown of muscle protein on a restricted diet and also greatly reduce perceived exertion in training, allowing you to train longer and harder while energy deficient.
A major benefit of supplementing with BCAA’s on a restricted diet is the direct effect they have on brain signaling that both decreases appetite and increases metabolism. A December 2012 study released by the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of Texas Medical Branch outlined that Branched-chain amino acids, had a profound effect on the anabolic actions of the mTOR pathway to muscles. Due to this BCAA’s have an effect on both insulin sensitivity and interact with the brain chemical serotonin to reduce cravings and hunger. Basically, this means BCAA’s make you less hungry, burn more calories, and direct the energy you do use to muscle protein and away from fat.
BCAA’s contribute to success in fat loss is their unique ability to decrease exertion in a workout. As we change our diets and get lower in body fat stores, workouts become increasingly difficult as we do not have the energy to push through and we end up tiring quickly. A November 2012 study by the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil took two groups of rats, one with and one without BCAA supplementation pre-workout and ran the rats through a swimming test until complete exhaustion. What they found was the BCAA group increased their time until exhaustion by 37%. That is the equivalent of going two hours in the gym as opposed to 1 1/2 hours. The reason is that BCAA’s both provide energy to the body and also interfere with fatigue causing ammonia and lactic acid in muscles.
Overall, BCAA’s should be included regularly in any reduced calorie diet to aid in fat loss. While they work wonders, they are also dose dependent, too much BCAA’s has been shown to decrease their effectiveness.
By Vikki Mckay
Personal Trainer in Liverpool at Liverpool Personal Training Studios