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Manage Your Meat - BCAA's: What You Need To Know!

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I often say, “Not all meat is created equal”, which is the sole reason I only buy my meat from But it’s this exact comment that sparks a lot of questions on social media from people wanting to know exactly what I mean by this and what meats would be best for their diet. So, I’ve decided to put pen to paper and in a series of articles will be explaining exactly how you can Manage Your Meat.

First up, an overview of:
- Branch Chain Amino Acids: Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine
- Why do I use BCAA’s
- Which meat contains the highest amounts

Branch Chain Amino Acid: Leucine
Leucine is important for building and increasing lean muscle mass. It increases insulin secretion for better uptake of protein and carbohydrates, essential ingredients in the building of muscle and providing energy for the body. It is the most effective BCAA for preventing muscle loss because it can be broken down and converted to glucose more quickly than isoleucine and valine. This increase in glucose supply helps prevent the body’s cannibalization of muscle for energy.

Branch Chain Amino Acid: Isoleucine
Isoleucine is essential in stabilising and regulating energy and blood sugar levels and is needed for haemoglobin formation. Its primary function is to boost energy and help the body recover from strenuous activity. It has been shown in studies that isoleucine can help to prevent muscle and tissue breakdown overnight and during extreme levels of exercise such as marathons and other extreme distance events.

Branch Chain Amino Acid: Valine
Valine helps the body to maintain a good nitrogen balance in the body, allowing muscle growth. Because of its ability to remove potentially toxic nitrogen from the liver, it is thought that valine can be used to help treat the liver as well as other organs that have been damaged by alcohol abuse. It also aids in muscle metabolism and tissue repair and is therefore great for recovery from strenuous exercise. Valine helps prevent the breakdown of muscle by supplying the muscles with extra glucose for energy production during intense physical activity.

Why do I use BCAA’s
So, why do I specifically use BCAA’s? The answer is to prevent overtraining. This is because last year the volume, mileage and duration of my workouts were brutal as I swam over 100km towing a 100lbs tree across the Caribbean Sea (as odd as it sounds. Read more here) but BCAA’s are the one group of amino acids that come recommended by sports nutritionists when talking about overtraining and immune system suppression. Scientists from the Institute of Biomedical Sciences at the University of São Paulo in Brazil set out to determine how intense long duration exercise could lead to immune suppression through a decrease in the circulating level of plasma glutamine and how the decrease in plasma glutamine concentration as a consequence of intense long duration exercise was reversed, in some cases, by supplementing the diet of the athletes with branched-chain amino acids.

To investigate immune response and BCAA supplementation, they evaluated blood parameters (lymphocyte production, the level of plasma cytokines, plasma glutamine concentration, and in vitro production of cytokines by peripheral blood lymphocytes) before and after the São Paulo International Triathlon as well as the incidence of symptoms of infections between the groups. The data obtained showed that after intense exercise, a decrease in plasma glutamine concentration was paralleled by an increased incidence of symptoms of infections. They then found that BCAA supplementation can reverse the reduction in serum glutamine concentration observed after prolonged intense exercise such as an Olympic triathlon. The prevention of the lowering of plasma glutamine concentration allows an increased response of lymphocytes as well as an increased production of IL-1 and 2, TNF-alpha, and IFN-gamma, which is possibly linked to the lower incidence of symptoms of infection (33.84 percent) reported by the supplemented athletes.

Which meat contains the highest amounts

Food Serving Protein BCAAs Leucine Isoleucine Valine BCAA Leucine
(per g of protein)
Chicken Breast 6oz 36g 6.6g 2.9g 1.8g 1.9g 0.18 0.08
95% lean beef 6oz 36g 6.2g 2.8g 1.6g 1.8g 0.17 0.08
Canned Tuna 6oz 33g 5.6g 2.5g 1.5g 1.6g 0.17 0.08
Wild Salmon 6oz 34g 5.9g 2.7g 1.5g 1.7g 0.17 0.08
Turkey Breast 6oz 40g 5.2g 2.8g 1.1g 1.3g 0.13 0.07
Egg 1 6.3g 1.3g 0.54g 0.3g 0.4g 0.21 0.09
Egg White 1 3.6g 0.8g 0.3g 0.2g 0.3g 0.23 0.09
Roasted Peanuts 6oz 12g 6.8g 3.1g 1.7g 2g 0.14 0.07

*One of those silly disclaimer thingy's > Athleat has no affiliation with THE PROTEIN WORKS™ nor do we endorse them specifically. Ross does and therefore he asked us nicely if we could put those links to that company in...we said yes cos we like Ross :)


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