Muscle is made up of protein, and protein is made up of amino acids strung together like a pearl necklace through a process called protein synthesis. But not all amino acids are so intimately involved in this process.


When most amino acids are ingested, they’re absorbed by the intestines and shuttled straight to the liver. The liver then decides what to do with them before they go to the rest of the body. If the body needs more energy, the liver will break them down for fuel rather than spare them to repair and build muscle and other tissue. The three BCAAs, on the other hand, tend to be spared by the liver and get direct access to tissues like muscle fibers. The muscle fibers then get to make the decision of what to do with the BCAAs based on their needs.

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