Amino acids provide the building blocks for our body’s cells, tissues and muscles. They aid in both building muscle and in helping the body to recover after a workout. There are eight amino acids that are classed as essential and these eight amino acids can only be obtained through your diet. According to the BBC, high-quality dietary protein is also a source of branched-chain amino acids.

What Are Branched-Chain Amino Acids?

Branched-chain amino acids play a vital part in supporting muscle recovery after a workout. There are three different branched-chain amino acids: isoleucine, leucine and valine. Of these branched-chain amino acids, it is leucine that plays the biggest part in muscle building and recovery. Leucine accounts for over a third of muscle protein. It also plays a vital part in stimulating muscle repair after a workout. If you are muscle building with protein food, then you should be looking to increase the amount of branched-chain amino-acids in your diet.

There are a lot of branched-chain amino acid supplements available on the market, but this is by no means the only way that you can maximise them in your diet. After all, branched-chain amino acids are some of the essential amino acids and so have obviously been consumed by humans long before the dietary supplement industry even existed.

Which Foods Are Sources of Branched-Chain Amino Acids?

Due to the protein-synthesis-boosting properties of branched-chain amino acids, they should be eaten before you start training in order to get a protein boost during your workout or to aid recovery after a training session. One of the best ways to get your hit of the muscle-building amino acid leucine is to look at whole foods, that are a rich source of branched-chain amino acids.

Many lean meats provide the body with a boost of branched-chain amino acids and in particular leucine. Flank steak and ultra-lean beef mince both contain 2.8g of leucine per 6oz serving, whilst chicken breast contains 2.9g of leucine per 6oz. As these are both low in fat, they are great protein-boosting and muscle-building foods but also mean you can cut down on your fat intake.

Research into dietary protein, and branched-chain amino acids and leucine in particular, has discovered that if you want to reach optimum protein synthesis then you need to consume around 3g of leucine, so lean meats will more or less give you the amount of muscle-building protein that you need. If you want to boost your leucine levels to tip over the three gram mark, however, then you can turn to the best kind of protein-rich food, the egg. Eggs are famously rich in high-quality protein but are low in fat and calories. Six whole eggs or nine egg whites will provide you with over 3g of leucine — perfect for when you are on a muscle-building diet. For those who simply want to have a healthy lifestyle, a diet that contains plenty of lean meat and eggs will also be very helpful.

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