Amino acids are critical to life, they are the building blocks of our very existence. When taken into the body from diet amino acids synthesise proteins by linking together to form peptides and polypeptides. What are peptides and polypeptides?
Peptides are short polymers ( large molecules ) of amino acids linked by peptide bonds. Peptide bonds are simply a chemical bond formed between two molecules, obviously there is more to it than this, but we will keep it simple at this juncture. A polypeptide is a single linear chain of amino acids bonded together by peptide bonds.
There are 22 standard amino acid of which eight are 'essential ' They are known as essential because they cannot be created by the human body alone and must be ingested through foodstuffs and supplements.
The eight essential amino acids are:
Lysine, Methionine, Phenylaline, Threonine, Tryptophan, and of course most famously the 3 branched chain amino acids ( BCAA's ) - Isoleucine, Leucine and Valine.
Amino acids make up 75% of the human body, meaning they are of paramount importance to life. Every chemical reaction that takes place in our bodies is completely reliant upon amino acids and the proteins that they build. Since growth, repair and maintenance of all cells are heavily reliant on them, it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to supplement these amino acids. Failure to get enough of even one of the essential amino's can result in protein degradation.
Branched Chain Amino Acids ( BCAA's )
BCAA's are amino acids with a branch off the aliphatic side chain, they are :-
Isoleucine, Leucine and Valine. The combination of these makes up one third of all skeletal muscle in the human body. BCAA's are the most rapidly absorbed of all amino acids, they synthesise proteins, help maintain muscle tissue, increase lean muscle mass and are helpful in the formation of haemoglobin.
Haemoglobin ( a protein found in red blood cells ) is what transports oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body where it releases the oxygen for cell use and collects carbon dioxide, which it carries back to the lungs. It is also interesting to note that haemoglobin also carries nitric oxide, releasing it at the same time as the oxygen.
This vitally important oxygen, transported via haemoglobin, which is formed with the assistance of BCAA's , is essential in sustaining the contractions that result in a muscle pump.
As well as all this, these super amino's assist in the regulation and halting of catabolism and augment recovery, meaning that they are especially important after training.