M6 KNOWLEDGE BOMBS: 3 FACTS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT BCAASDaniel Pierce
By Daniel Pierce
Branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) have become a staple in many serious athletes’ supplement arsenals for good reason. They help accelerate recovery and protein synthesis while limiting delayed onset muscle soreness. Because of this, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of products on the market specifically built around delivering the benefits of BCAAs. However, while most discuss the recovery benefits, there’s still a lot of real science that is not commonly known.
- BCAAs have a caloric value.
Due to certain FDA labeling guidelines, manufacturers cannot list the caloric value of free form amino acids like BCAAs within their supplement facts panels. The reason is easily demonstrated by the fiasco where some manufacturers were bulking up their protein with “amino spiking.” They used glycine, taurine, creatine, etc. in protein powders to increase the protein content, which, in turn, increased the caloric content. The laws were intended to protect you from this.
In order for an ingredient to provide caloric value per FDA labeling guidelines, it must qualify as either a fat, a protein, or a carbohydrate. Free form amino acids technically can’t qualify as proteins, and this is why they can’t be listed as containing a caloric value on a label per the FDA; it is not due to strict nutritional science. Laws are made to protect us and our food supply. However, the law doesn’t take into account dieting athletes counting calories.
Based on calorimeter tests, here’s the actual kcal (calories) amounts for individual BCAAs.
Leucine – 6.0 kcal/g
Isoleucine – 5.9 kcal/g
Valine – 5.3 kcal/g
- Some BCAAs are produced from animal hair and feathers
BCAAs are produced by two different processes: chemical extraction and enzymatic fermentation. Chemical extraction unfortunately utilizes animal hair, feathers, and other body parts containing high levels of keratin. Yes, it sounds pretty ugly, but in food processing, the more uses there are for waste materials from slaughterhouses, the more money they can make. It’s pure economics, and most consumers aren’t aware of this.
On the other hand, BCAAs that are produced from enzymatic fermentation utilize plant-based starting materials such as corn. Through various fermentation processes utilizing specialized enzymes, these BCAAs were among the first utilized and mass produced for the pharmaceutical industry in Japan. They originally pioneered this technology, and, subsequently, as costs came down, these plant-derived BCAAs known as fermented BCAAs became commercially available in dietary supplements. As a brand standard, Mission 6 only uses fermented BCAAs.
- Supplemental BCAAs may provide cognitive benefits for dogs.
If you have a dog, you love it and would probably do anything in your power to keep it as healthy as possible for as long as possible. Believe it or not, BCAAs have been clinically studied in various dog species such as the English Springer Spaniel, the Golden Retriever, and the Labrador Retriever. Both young and old have been put to the test with physical and cognitive tests to see if BCAAs can improve their performance.
Research has shown that both young and senior dogs show cognitive improvements during physical exercise. Seniors benefitted a little more than their younger counterparts, but, nonetheless, a small concentration of BCAAs demonstrated benefits through better decision making while under stress. In many instances, the BCAA benefits seen in humans, including performance recovery, have also been demonstrated in dogs.
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