What are BCAAs?
BCAA stands for branched-chain amino acids. These are a group of the essential amino acids; valine, isoleucine and leucine. You can find these in food and in supplement form. Many athletes or sports enthusiasts use the latter, in order to aid in the growth of muscles and boost sporting performance. We’ve taken a look at each of these in more detail below:
Valine assists the body in muscle growth and repair as well as assisting the body in maintaining the immune system. Unlike other amino acids, the muscles process valine as opposed to the liver. You can also use it as an appetite suppressant. It is additionally in some medications for its assistance in insomnia and anxiety disorders. Valine can be taken in supplement form or found in food such as milk, chicken and leafy green vegetables.
As well as assisting in muscular hypertrophy, leucine is the most common amino acid found in the body. Contemporary studies would suggest that leucine consumed on a weight loss diet will help the body retain muscle mass while losing fat. It also assists the body in the regulation of blood sugar levels and reduces stress on blood vessels. You can find it in beef, eggs and chicken.
This helps the body build muscle and repair body tissue. It greatly aids the body in performance in endurance training and recovering from strenuous exercise. Scientific studies would suggest that this amino acid is particularly effective at injury recovery and rebuilding damaged tissue. You can find it in foods such as eggs, turkey, chicken and fish.
Benefits Of BCAAs
As previously stated, amino acids help build muscle and recovery from injury. We’ve listed further benefits below:
Decreased Muscle Soreness
Amino acids help the body prevent Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). This is the stiffness and acute pain and discomfort a person will feel when moving muscles 12 hours – 3 days after exercise. DOMS can be reduced because a person will limit the damage to muscle tissue while exercising.
As well as muscle soreness after exercise, a person will often feel tiredness and exhaustion after strenuous exercise. The body utilises BCAAs during exercise. It reduces the amount of serotonin converted in the bloodstream. This chemical is a contributing factor in fatigue after exercise.
Assist Those with Liver Disease
A person suffering from liver disease or illness will benefit with BCAA supplements or high levels of BCAAs in the diet. This is due to reducing the strain the disease has on the liver operating on a day to day basis and will decrease the likelihood of developing liver cancers.
Lower Blood Sugar Levels
Some evidence suggests that as leucine and isoleucine are linked to your insulin secretion increasing, which then leads to your muscles taking in more sugar from your blood, this could result in an overall decrease in blood sugar levels. However, the results seem to vary, mostly depending on the diet of the individual. Someone on a high fat diet, for instance, when combined with BCAA supplements, could develop an insulin resistance.
Help With Weight Loss
As with blood sugar levels, the likelihood that BCAAs can help with weight loss may depend on diet. While some studies have shown that those consuming higher levels of BCAAs per day can lower the risk of obesity, the amount of protein eaten also differed, which likely influenced the results.
BCAAs in the Diet
There are many benefits to a person taking BCAAs. These levels can be met when eating a well-balanced diet. A person unable to get adequate levels of BCAAs in their diet may then wish to supplement. It is important that the recommended dosage is not exceeded on the supplement and medical guidance is always considered. This is due to the harmful effects it can have, such as fatigue and nausea.