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BCAA'S AND PROTEIN SYNTHESIS

Geardepot

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This is a follow up to the article I posted yesterday on "Positive nitrogen balance". It is understood that if you want to build muscle, one of your primary concerns should be the ability to maintain an anabolic state.
So...what is "protein synthesis"? Protein synthesis is, briefly, a fundamental biological process by which individual cells build their specific proteins. Within the process are involved both DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acids). The process is initiated in the cell’s nucleus, where specific enzymes unwind the needed section of DNA, which makes the DNA in this region accessible and a RNA copy can be made. This RNA molecule then moves from the nucleus to the cell cytoplasm, where the actual process of protein synthesis takes place. So protein synthesis is a biological process that basically replaces proteins in the body, but how does this apply to muscle growth? We need to understand the concept and function of “signaling pathways”, the primary pathway is known as “mTOR”, which originally stood for “mammalian target of rapamycin”, it has also been defined as “mechanistic target of rapamycin”. mTOR is a type of protein that is considered a master growth regulator that “senses” nutritional and environmental (such as intense exercise) signals and utilizes these signals to increase the potential of the anabolic processes of the body, which includes muscle growth, in fact, it’s considered to be the primary regulator of protein synthesis. mTOR is one of the more important cell signaling pathways for muscle growth, as seen above, it's the master regulator of protein synthesis (among other anabolic functions) in the cell. The good news is, you can directly affect muscle growth by activating mTOR, and it’s activated by three things:
1. Mechanical stress (from heavy training loads)
2. Growth factors (IGF, growth hormone, insulin, etc.)
3. Amino acids (particularly leucine)
One of the most exciting recent advances in supplementation was the discovery of the relationship between BCAAs and protein synthesis. The BCAAs are highly effective for stimulating protein synthesis, especially leucine, which seems to have the greatest effect of any amino acid in terms of stimulating protein synthesis through the mTOR pathway. In fact, mTOR seems to be sensitive to concentrations of leucine in the same way it’s sensitive to ATP levels – as leucine levels decline in the body, mTOR is signaled that there's not enough dietary protein present to synthesize new skeletal muscle protein, therefore turning mTOR off. Once you take in more BCAAs (leucine, primarily), the elevated amino acid levels signal mTOR that there is now sufficient dietary protein, and switches protein synthesis back on. It should be noted that all the EAAs, which include the BCAAs, are involved in protein synthesis, however, the key is leucine.
Ingesting consistently timed protein sources and/or BCAA-EAA sources is important to stay in an anabolic state and set yourself up for growth. It’s a good idea to take in a protein shake about an hour before your workout, you should make sure it consists of 30-50 grams of fast digesting whey protein with some simple carbs, about 30 grams. Once you are done with your workout, take in a whey protein shake consisting of 30-50 grams and include some carbs – base the amount on your goals, but about 30 grams regardless.
If you aren't using BCAA's, give them a try. Make sure your workouts are hard and heavy, and that you allow yourself to recover so you can allow yourself to grow!
GD
 

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