Amino Acids and BCAA - How can they help you? - Direct Nutrition

Amino Acids and BCAA - How can they help you?

Posted on November 03, 2018 by Ross McManus | 0 comments

Amino Acids are talked of a lot in the sports industry, so what exactly are amino acids? Amino acids are basically small organic molecules which make up proteins, if you break down protein you will find amino acids linked together by longer chains.

Amino acids play a role in:

  • Contributing to growth in muscle mass.
  • Maintenance of muscle and bones.

 Biologically, amino acids are extremely important for almost all cellular processes in the body.  The body requires amino acids to carry out daily functions ranging from providing cell structure, storing, carrying and transporting nutrients to waste removal. This influences important processes such as wound healing and tissue repair.

Amino acids are commonly referred to as “building blocks” of protein; they join via peptide bonds to form various types of protein in the body.  There are twenty two commonly known amino acids, of which there are two main categories; essential and none-essential amino acids.

The body is able to produce thirteen of these amino acids from other amino acids combined with carbohydrates and nitrogen, the resulting amino acids are referred to as ‘none essential amino acids,’ as displayed in the table below. The remaining eight amino acids cannot be produced by the body and must be obtained from the diet, hence why they are termed ‘essential amino acids.’

Essential Amino Acids

None-essential Amino Acids








Aspartic Acid




Glutamic Acid















*Histidine is essential for babies and infants however not for adults.

Another important group that is popular amongst the sports industry is a group of four Growth Hormone Releases, these include; L-Glutamine, L-Ornithine, L-Arginine, and L-Tyrosine. The Growth Hormone is a substance produced in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, which stimulates growth. Studies have displayed evidence that the combination of these four amino acids can help to stimulate the growth hormone.

Fact File

Did you know the growth hormone has been found to be most active during the beginning phases of the night? Hence, why it is important to ensure you sleep at an appropriate time, so this means, lack of sleep can stunt release of the growth hormone, limiting growth of bodily tissues.


Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) BCAA's are made from three essential amino acids; Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. These amino acids can be found in foods such as meats, pulses, legumes, nuts and dairy. Collectively these three amino acids make up 1/3 of skeletal muscle in the body.

It is thought that muscle uses amino acids more than any other nutrient and one of the main reasons BCAAs are utilised, is to prevent the breakdown of muscle, especially during intense exercise. This trio of amino acids is known to stimulate protein synthesis therefore, keeping the body in an anabolic state and facilitate repair post workout. Aside from the above, user’s report that the use of BCAAs may help to prevent the build-up of lactic acid, thus reducing muscle fatigue.

In order to get the most out of the BCAAs they are required at the correct ratio. The common consensus for BCAAs is a 2:1:1 ratio for those on high protein diet, athletes and those who train, however this may need to be altered for specific requirements.

In summary, it is important to have a varied balanced diet to ensure you obtain a full range of the amino acids, which are responsible for so many essential bodily functions. 

Please note if you have any existing or suspected medical conditions, consult your healthcare practitioner before use of any supplements.    


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8.     Williams M. (2005) Dietary Supplements and Sports Performance: Amino Acids, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. 2(2): 63-67

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