Branched amino acids (BCAA) are a group of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine.
BCAA supplements are often used to promote muscle growth and improve exercise performance. They can also help with weight loss and fatigue after exercise.
This article will cover all the most important information about branched amino acids and their benefits.
What is BCAA?
BCAA consists of three essential amino acids:
These amino acids are grouped together because they are the only three amino acids that have a branching chain on one side.
Their molecular structure looks like this:
Like all amino acids, BCAA makes the parts that the body uses to create the protein .
BCAA is considered essential because, unlike non-essential amino acids, the body cannot create them. Therefore, loading them from diet is essential.
Crux: Three BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine and valine. All have branched molecular structures and are considered essential for the human body.
How does branched amino acid work?
BCAA forms a large part of the body's total amino acid content.
They account for about 35-40% of all essential amino acids in the body and about 14-18% are found in muscles .
In contrast to most other amino acids, BCAA is primarily disintegrated in muscle, not in the liver. Therefore, they are thought to play an important role in energy production when exercising .
BCAA also plays many other roles in the body.
First, the body can use them as building blocks for proteins and muscles .
They can also participate in modifications blood sugar by preserving the sugar content of the liver and muscles and stimulating the glucose-loading cells from the bloodstream .
Moreover, BCAAs can help reduce the fatigue you feel when exercising by reducing serotonin production in the brain .
Of the above three amino acids, leucine is thought to have the greatest effect on the ability to build muscle proteins .
Meanwhile, isoleucine and valine seem to be more effective in producing energy and regulating blood sugar .
Crux: The body can use BCAA to build protein in muscles and produce energy. They can also affect the brain, reducing fatigue.
BCAA can reduce fatigue during exercise
Consumption of BCAA can help reduce physical and mental fatigue.
Studies on participants reported that those who received BCAA were 15% less tired while exercising, compared to those who only took placebo .
In one study, an increase in endurance exercise until fatigue helped the BCAA team exercise 17% longer before exhaustion, compared to the placebo group .
In another study, participants were placed in heat stress during a bicycle test. They are required to consume or drink BCAA or placebo. Those who drank BCAA cycled for 12% longer than the placebo group .
However, not all studies have shown that fatigue reduction improves exercise performance .
In addition, BCAA may be more effective in reducing fatigue when exercising in untrained people compared to trained individuals .
Crux: In some people, BCAA can help reduce fatigue when exercising. Whether this helps improve exercise performance is still being debated.
BCAA supplement helps relieve muscle aches
BCAA can also help your muscles less sore after exercising.
It can do so by lowering the concentration of enzymes and in the blood, they are related to muscle damage. This can help improve recovery and provide protection against muscle injuries .
Many studies have asked participants to assess their muscle aches after performing certain strength training exercises.
Participants taking BCAA supplements rated their muscle aches 33% lower than those given placebo .
In some cases, people who were given BCAA performed 20% better when they repeated the same strength training tests within 24-48 hours later .
However, the effects may vary based on gender or total protein in your diet .
Crux: BCAA taken before or after a workout can reduce muscle aches after exercise. However, the effects may vary from person to person.
BCAA can increase muscle
Many people buy BCAA supplements to increase their muscle mass.
Finally, studies have shown that BCAA activates enzymes responsible for building muscle .
Some studies also show that dietary supplements of BCAA may be effective in increasing muscle mass, especially if it contains higher levels of leucine than isoleucine and valine .
However, there is currently no evidence to suggest that BCAA tolerance from dietary supplements would be more beneficial than loading it from a diet or from a cheaper supplement such as whey protein or soy protein.
In fact, studies have shown that taking dietary supplements with whole proteins may, at least in some cases, be better for muscle growth than using functional foods with each kind of individual amino acids .
Crux: Adequate tolerance of BCAA is likely to promote muscle growth. You can get them from protein-rich foods in the diet or through dietary supplements.
BCAA may help lower blood sugar levels
BCAA may also help maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Leucine and isoleucine are thought to increase insulin secretion and make muscles load more sugar from the blood, thus reducing blood sugar .
However, in fact, not all studies support these effects .
In fact, some studies have even reported the possibility of increasing blood sugar levels, depending on the diet that participants are pursuing. For example, when BCAA is combined with a high-fat diet, consuming them in supplemental form may cause insulin resistance .
In addition, many of these studies have been done on animals or cells, meaning that their results may not be fully applicable to humans.
In humans, the effects seem to vary between participants.
For example, a recent study had participants with liver disease taking 12.5 grams of BCAA three times a day. Of the 10 participants, their blood sugar levels decreased, while 17 other participants did not see any effect.
Therefore, more research needs to be done before a definitive conclusion can be made.
Crux: BCAA may help promote blood sugar control, at least in some cases. However, more research is needed to confirm their effects.
BCAA may help enhance the effect of weight loss
Branched chain amino acids can help prevent weight gain and enhance fat loss.
In fact, observational studies have reported that people who consume an average of 15 grams of BCAA from a daily diet may have a 30% lower risk of being overweight or obese than people. consumes an average of 12 grams per day .
However, it should be noted that people who consume less than BCAA daily consume less than 20 grams of protein per day, which may have affected the results.
If you are trying to lose weight, BCAA can help your body remove unwanted fat more effectively.
Wrestling athletes consume a large amount of protein, according to a calorie-restricted diet along with supplemented BCAA supplements that have decreased by more than 3.5 pounds (1.6 kg) compared to those given food Soy protein supplement during 19 days of study .
The BCAA group also had a 0.6% reduction in body fat compared to the soy protein group, despite consuming the same amount of calories and with slightly lower total protein per day .
In another study, weightlifters who were given 14 grams of BCAA daily had a 1% reduction in body fat during the eight-week study period compared with those who were given 28 grams of whey protein daily. The BCAA group also gained more than 4.4 lb (2 kg) of muscle .
However, these two studies have some flaws. For example, they provide very little information about the composition of dietary supplements and the following diet. Things may have affected the results.
Furthermore, studies that examined the effects of BCAA on weight loss have shown mixed results .
Crux: BCAA can help prevent weight gain and increase weight loss. However, more research is needed to determine whether taking dietary supplements provides any added benefit compared to a high-protein diet.
BCAA may help reduce complications in liver disease
BCAA may help reduce complications associated with liver failure.
A possible complication is (HE), can cause confusion, loss of consciousness and coma.
A recent study found that in patients with liver disease, BCAA supplementation may be more beneficial than other substances in reducing the severity of HE .
However, BCAA does not help improve survival rates, and it does not help reduce the risk of complications, infections and stomach bleeding .
A review of recent studies in patients undergoing liver surgery has reported that increased BCAA solutions may help improve liver function, reduce the risk of complications and reduce the length of stay. institute .
BCAA supplements can also be effective in reducing fatigue and improving weakness, sleep quality and muscle cramps in people with liver disease .
In the case of liver cancer, taking BCAA supplements may help reduce fluid retention and the risk of premature death by up to 7% .
Crux: BCAA supplements can be effective in improving liver function and reducing the risk of complications in people with liver disease.
If you want to start adding branched chain amino acids, then the amount to be loaded will depend on your individual needs and goals.
A report from the World Health Organization since 1985 indicates that the average adult should consume a minimum of 75 mg BCAA per pound (34 mg / kg) of body weight per day .
However, according to a recent study, the actual daily requirements may be as high as 317mg / lb (144 mg / kg) of body weight per day .
Based on newer studies, healthy adults should target absorption:
- Women: A minimum of 9 grams of BCAA daily.
- Man: A minimum of 12 grams of BCAA daily.
Those who have all kinds High protein foods In the diet, it is very likely that you do not need to use functional foods.
However, the daily requirement may be slightly higher for athletes and high strength endurance practitioners. In these cases, the use of dietary supplements may be beneficial.
Most studies have observed benefits in trained individuals who use functional foods ranging from 10-20 grams of BCAA daily.
The best time to drink BCAA supplements is before or after exercise. Many people are trying to achieve the goal of increasing the amount of muscles that use it in the morning and before going to bed.
However, whether or not to take medication on time makes a big difference to whether this has not been properly studied.
Crux: The average dose of 5-12 grams of BCAA intake may be sufficient for most people, and can be easily met by diet alone. Athletes can also benefit from taking 10-20 grams of BCAA supplements daily.
Food sources contain the most BCAA
Fortunately, there are many foods that contain BCAA. The highest quantities include:
- Red meat, poultry, and fish: 3–4.5 grams in 3 oz (84 grams).
- Beans and lentils: 5–3 grams in a cup.
- Milk: 2 grams in 1 cup (237 ml).
- Tofu and tempeh: 9 to 2.3 grams in 3 oz (84 grams).
- Cheese: 4 grams / 1 oz (28 grams).
- Egg: 3 grams in 1 big egg.
- Pumpkin seeds: About 1 gram in 1 oz (28 grams).
- Quinoa County: 1 gram / 1 cup.
- Nuts: 7–1 grams in 1 oz (28 grams), depending on the type.
Conclude: Putting the food from the list above into your diet will help increase your daily BCAA intake.
Safety and side effects
The use of BCAA supplements is generally safe and has no side effects for most people.
Studies on the safety of BCAA consumption in higher amounts are rare, but studies have reported that total BCAA intake of about 15-35 grams per day appears to be safe .
However, BCAA supplementation will not be recommended for people with the disease also known as Lou Gehrig's disease (sclerosis on one side) .
In addition, individuals suffer from a rare congenital disorder called (maple syrup urine) should limit BCAA intake because their bodies cannot resolve them properly .
Crux: Loading 15-35 grams of BCAA daily is considered safe for most people. However, people with ALS or urinary syrup should limit their intake.
Message for you
The addition of branched chain amino acids may yield impressive benefits in certain cases, especially when it comes to muscle growth and physical performance.
However, BCAA can also be found in supplemental protein supplements as well as in large amounts of protein-rich foods.
Therefore, the use of BCAA supplements may not be necessary, especially if you have adequately fed through a diet or protein supplement.