The American culture today presents a rift between many different lifestyles: to the rest of the planet, we’re known as the fattest country in the world, the creator of fast food and drive-throughs, and as a nation constantly seeking indulgence. Within the United States however, we see a growing trend in fitness and overall health consciousness (although we still have a long way to go). We celebrate the shredded bodies we see on places like Instagram and MTV, and marketing companies have taken notice. The experts tout supplements, pills, and powders as the elixir to a muscular, strong physique. Anyone who regularly lifts weights at the gym will easily notice the protein-shaker bottles, supplements, and various additives that athletes use to “get big.” With so much misinformation presented by unknowledgeable peers and paid sponsors, how can we acquire meaningful instruction on healthy living? The fact of the matter is this: supplements, pills, and synthetic nutrients pale in comparison to wholesome foods. Foods rich in nutrients like protein and carbohydrates play a significant role in protein synthesis. Our bodies were designed with natural foods in mind; engineered supplements don’t work nearly as well with the body. The path to greater muscle gain involves hard work, wholesome food choices, and proper timing.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They combine together via dehydration synthesis (they lose water molecules when bonded) to create peptide bonds, which consist of a nitrogen-containing amine group, acid group, and a side chain (which gives the acid its identity chemical nature). These peptide bonds link amino acids together to form chains of polypeptides. Proteins range from single chains, to more complex chains that can contain hundreds of these peptide bonds. Dr. Christopher Proud from The American Journal of Clinincal Nutrition further explains, “Cells must therefore take account of amino acid availability to achieve sustainable rates of protein synthesis. One of the major mechanisms involved in this is signaling through a complex of proteins termed mammalian target of rapamycin complex (mTORC) 1, which is activated by amino acids. In turn, mTORC1 regulates the production of ribosomes, the molecular machines that make proteins, and the activity of other cellular components required for protein synthesis. mTORC1 signaling promotes the transcription of the genes for ribosomal RNAs and many other components involved in ribosome production. It also positively regulates the translation of the messenger RNAs (mRNAs) for ribosomal proteins.” Amino acids activate different mechanism within our body to achieve regulation.
Branched-Chain Amino Acids, or BCAA’s as they’re commonly referred to,
consist of three out of the nine essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The term “Branched-Chain” refers to their chemical structure. BCAA’s are even more of interest because they are not broken down in the liver like...