We all want to get the most out of our workouts. Depending on your health and fitness goals, you may want to build muscle mass, improve endurance, or enhance strength. In any of these cases, muscle growth is key.
What Amino Acids Help with Muscle Growth?
Essential amino acids are the focus of many fitness supplements. Not only does the body need them from outside sources, but also because they include a particular subset of amino acids known to greatly enhance the results of exercise. Branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs, is a group of three amino acids comprises leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These amino acids can help with endurance, recovery, focus, and muscle growth.
When looking for an amino acid supplement to help with muscle growth, try to find products with a high proportion of leucine1 – a 2:1:1 ratio with the other BCAAs is a good baseline here – as it’s the most potent amino acid for helping with muscle growth.
How Branched-Chain Amino Acids Improve Muscle Growth
Muscle protein synthesis (MPS) is how the body produces the cells that make up new muscles.
How Leucine Promotes Muscle Growth
One of the most notable things about leucine is the way that it factors into muscle protein synthesis. This amino acid, more than any other, is crucial for stimulating MPS and maximizing the output of new muscle cells. Research has shown2 that leucine plays a major role in the production of skeletal muscle, and its metabolites – the substances created when the body processes a particular compound – help improve the process as well.
One of those metabolites is believed to help with muscle growth2 while protecting muscle cells from being broken down during exercise. This protection is important for someone looking to build muscle mass because it means that their existing mass is preserved, leading to greater gains in the long run.
How BCAAs Help with Muscle Growth
BCAAs serve as building blocks for new muscle cells. Without an adequate supply, the body can only produce so much new tissue, even with help from compounds like leucine. By adding a post-workout amino acid supplement to your routine, you can ensure that your system gets all the resources it needs to promote muscle growth.
Another benefit to taking BCAAs that can help muscle growth is their ability to serve as a fuel source during workouts. This makes them effective as a mid-workout supplement. The three BCAAs can all be oxidized in the muscles to provide energy when your body’s stores of glycogen are exhausted. This allows you to push yourself harder during workouts.
The body engages a process called catabolism when it’s low on energy, breaking down muscle proteins to use as fuel. But, by providing BCAAs – another fuel alternative – you can save your body from having to resort to catabolism and instead, use the amino acids as fuel.