Enzymes are conformationally dynamic, and their dynamical properties play an important role in regulating their specificity and evolvability. In this context, substantial attention has been paid to the role of ligand-gated conformational changes in enzyme catalysis; however, such studies have focused on tremendously proficient enzymes such as triosephosphate isomerase and orotidine 5’-monophosphate decarboxylase, where the rapid (μs timescale) motion of a single loop dominates the transition between catalytically inactive and active conformations. In contrast, the (βα)8-barrels of tryptophan and histidine biosynthesis, such as the specialist isomerase enzymes HisA and TrpF, and the bifunctional isomerase PriA, are decorated by multiple long loops that undergo conformational transitions on the ms (or slower) timescale. Studying the interdependent motions of multiple slow loops, and their role in catalysis, poses a significant computational challenge. This work combines conventional and enhanced molecular dynamics simulations with empirical valence bond simulations to provide rich detail of the conformational behavior of the catalytic loops in HisA, PriA and TrpF, and the role of their plasticity in facilitating bifunctionality in PriA and evolved HisA variants. In addition, we demonstrate that, similar to other enzymes activated by ligand-gated conformational changes, loops 3 and 4 of HisA and PriA act as gripper loops, facilitating the isomerization of the large bulky substrate ProFAR, albeit now on much slower timescales. This hints at convergent evolution on these different (βα)8-barrel scaffolds. Finally, our work highlights the potential of engineering loop dynamics as a powerful tool to artificially manipulate the diverse catalytic repertoire of TIM-barrel proteins.