If you are a gym freak or one who regularly takes protein powders, you might have come across one common ingredient – Branched Amino Acids or BCAAs. Branched Chain Amino Acids are pretty popular among muscle-building people. They are well known in the fitness industry.
But have you ever thought about why BCAAs are so popular? How do BCAAs benefit us so much? Well, this article guides you through all of it. Let’s start by reading about what BCAAs are and then dive into their benefits.
What are BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids)?
Everyone desires a muscular body. But do you know what makes these muscles? Muscles comprise proteins that are made of amino acids. Thus, amino acids are the tiny building blocks of proteins.
Our body consists of twenty amino acids; nine are essential amino acids. Essential amino acids cannot be produced by our body and can only be obtained from dietary sources. Hence, consumption of essential amino acids is necessary.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) is a group of three essential amino acids – leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAAs form 35-40% of the total amino acids in our body, 14-18% of which are found in our muscles.
Author’s note: Leucine is most commonly associated with muscle growth. Isoleucine and valine are more effective at producing energy and regulating blood sugar levels.
Now that we have learned what BCAAs are, let’s jump to the benefits consumption of BCAA’s provide.
Benefits of BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids)
1. Reduce fatigue during exercise
If you often feel fatigued after tiresome exercises, BCAAs might make you feel better. BCAAs are known to reduce muscle fatigueness.
A study published in the Journal of Exercise, Nutrition, and Biochemistry found that BCAAs can lower the concentration of serotonin, a central fatigue substance released in the blood during endurance exercises, thus reducing muscle fatigueness.
BCAAs also work by reducing the uptake of tryptophan, an amino acid that plays a crucial role in inducing fatigue during exercise.
2. Reduce muscle soreness
If you have recently started working out, you would have felt muscle soreness. However, you don’t need to worry because BCAAs might help you.
BCAAs are known to reduce muscle damage (more about it in the later section), thus reducing the severity of muscle soreness. BCAAs Supplements also work at speeding up the recovery of muscles.
3. Increase muscle mass
There’s a reason BCAAs are so popular among muscle-builders. Leucine, one of the BCAAs, works at synthesizing muscle protein. Hence, BCAAs help in muscle building and muscle growth.
4. Reduce muscle wasting
Muscle wasting is the excessive breakdown of muscle such that the rate of muscle protein synthesis is less. BCAAs are well known to reduce muscle wasting and halt its progression.
A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that BCAAs improved protein synthesis, decreasing muscle damage associated with strenuous resistance exercise.
5. Improve exercise performance
BCAAs reduce muscle fatigue and soreness and increase muscle endurance. These crucial roles by BCAAs thus improve endurance, improving exercise performance in individuals.
A study published in the Journal of Exercise, Nutrition, and Biochemistry found that BCAAs enhance exercise performance by influencing fatigue substances, muscle damage substances, and energy metabolism substances.
6. Aid in weight loss
As we previously learned that BCAAs increase our muscle growth. An increased muscle mass contributes to a faster metabolism, thus reducing weight effectively.
BCAAs also contribute to improving lean mass and decreasing body fat percentage. A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition showed that ingestion of a supplement containing BCAAs resulted in decreased body fat and a significant increase in lean mass.
7. Reduce complications of liver disease
BCAAs have been associated with improving the quality of life of patients suffering from various complications of liver disease like hepatic encephalopathy and liver cirrhosis. However, more research is being conducted to understand the role of BCAAs in liver diseases.
A study published in the Medicine (Baltimore) Journal demonstrates that BCAAs supplementation for more extended periods has a beneficial effect in patients with advanced liver cirrhosis.
8. Help to reduce symptoms of anorexia
Anorexia is an eating disorder that causes people to obsess about weight and what they eat. Administration of BCAAs help reduce anorexia and improve nutrition in both the elderly and malnourished.
9. Reduce symptoms of mania
Mania is a symptom of bipolar disorder associated with a highly elevated and excitable mood. Drinks containing Branched Chain Amino Acids help reduce symptoms of mania.
10. Reduce symptoms of tardive dyskinesia
BCAAs have also proved effective in reducing symptoms of people with tardive dyskinesia, a movement disorder associated with involuntary and abnormal movements of the jaw, lips, and tongue movements.
11. Improve the immune system.
A weakened immune system? Say no more. BCAAs play a key role in improving the immune system.
A study published in the Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology demonstrates the role of BCAAs in improving the immune system in humans.
Having learned about the benefits of Branched Chain Amino Acids, let’s quickly read about the side effects that excess BCAAs may cause.
1. What are the side effects of taking branched-chain amino acids?
BCAAs are pretty beneficial to our bodies. However, large amounts of branched-chain amino acids may lead to fatigue, loss of coordination, nausea, headaches, and increased insulin resistance. Nonetheless, BCAAs should not be taken by those undergoing or who have undergone any surgery.
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Not only do Branched Amino Acids or BCAAs Supplements aid in muscle growth and reduce muscle soreness, but they also aid in the management of various diseases. There’s a reason BCAAs gained so much popularity and has been in the trends always.
Thus, if you are looking for a protein powder, make sure they contain Branched Amino Acids or BCAAs in adequate quantity. Nonetheless, if you are taking additional supplements of BCAAs, make sure you contact your physician to ensure that you are taking the correct dose of BCAAs.
Drop in a comment to tell us how BCAAs proved helpful to you.