If you’re into fitness, chances are you’re familiar with BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids. You may even be supplementing them. What makes BCAAs – leucine, valine, and isoleucine – in particular, leucine, so important? Let’s dive in.
What are BCAAs?
Perhaps one of the most studied substances in the fitness industry, these three amino acids fall into the category of essential amino acids (EAAs) because they cannot be produced by the body. Instead, they must be ingested through high-protein food sources like meat, fish, and eggs. Humans need EAAs for the creation of new tissues and cells, including muscle. Specifically, BCAAs have a slightly different chemical structure allowing them to be broken down by muscles, rather than the liver.
Of course, as with most things, there is a hierarchy when it comes to BCAAs. All three are important, but leucine leads the charge when it comes to protein synthesis and metabolic function. Research shows that “Leucine is not only a precursor for muscle protein synthesis, but also may play a role as a regulator of intracellular signaling pathways that are involved in the process of protein synthesis.”
If you pay attention to labels, most BCAA supplements will have a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine, valine, and isoleucine. This should paint a good picture of the importance of leucine, but our research goes one step further.
Byproducts of Leucine
When leucine is broken down in the body, it produces two relatively well-known metabolites: acetyl-CoA and acetoacetate. The lesser-known byproduct of leucine is βeta-Hydroxy-βeta-methylbutyrate or HMB which is what Dr. Naji Abumrad, Chairman of Nirvana Water Sciences’ Scientific Research Board and board-certified surgeon, become fascinated with during 20+ years of research. One thing that was discovered is that only 5% of leucine is converted into HMB. In addition, in order to get the recommended 2-3g of HMB, a human would need to consume 600g of protein daily which is obviously impossible.
This leads us to why it’s beneficial for humans of all ages to increase the amount of HMB they consume through products like Nirvana HMB. Specifically, because HMB has been proven to increase muscle mass while also decreasing muscle breakdown. In a study of over 2000 patients, it was found that “After reviewing the evidence the authors concluded that HMB and supplements containing HMB increased muscle mass and strength in a variety of clinical conditions.”
Why Nirvana HMB?
Some would argue that it is unnecessary to supplement HMB because it is produced by the breakdown of Leucine. However, because such a small percentage (approximately 5%) of Leucine is converted to HMB, it would take a considerable amount of Leucine to experience the effects of HMB. Specifically, Nirvana HMB uses the free acid (gel/liquid) form of HMB which is water-soluble and faster absorbing than the calcium or powder form of HMB. Plus, it’s already infused in the water so all you have to do is drink Nirvana HMB to cash in on the benefits.
Learn more about HMB