BCAA Supplements: Here’s Everything You Need to Know

Author: Dana Ryan
Sporty young woman with protein at home, closeup

Amino acids are the building blocks that our body uses to make all proteins. There are nine essential amino acids, three of which are the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Together, they represent around 35to 40% of all essential amino acids present in the body, and 14 to 18% of those found in muscles.


The branched chain refers to the chemical structure of BCAAs, found in protein-rich foods such as eggs, meat, and dairy products. In recent years, BCAA supplements have become increasingly popular among athletes and fitness enthusiasts aiming to build muscle, as they are believed to enhance energy production during exercise and have varied benefits.


Here are the top three benefits of BCAAs:


They Help Promote Muscle Growth:


·        Contrary to most other amino acids, BCAAs get oxidized in the muscle rather than the liver, making them a much more available source for protein synthesis - the process of building muscles.


·        By activating enzymes responsible for promoting muscle growth, BCAAs increase the rate of protein synthesis and decrease the rate of protein degradation in the muscles.


They Help Support Muscle Recovery*:


Research published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness suggests that BCAAs can help with muscle recovery and help with the initially uncomfortable sensation in two ways:


·        By lowering blood levels of two enzymes involved in muscle damage: creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase.


·        By increasing protein synthesis, which helps preserve the muscle tissue during intense training.


When taken before training, BCAAs can effectively decrease muscle soreness levels by preserving muscle fibres.


They Help Reduce Exercise Fatigue:


·        Tryptophan gets converted to serotonin, a brain chemical that contributes to fatigue during exercise. By limiting its entry into your brain, BCAAs help in reducing exercise fatigue.


·        BCAAs also help preserve your glycogen stores, the muscles’ preferred fuel source to produce energy. Thus, having a reliable source of energy while working out can help you go stronger for longer.


Here’s how you can incorporate BCAAs in your diet to aid faster muscle recovery:


BCAAs are essential, which means our body can't produce them, and they are sourced only through food and supplements. Here’s how you can incorporate BCAAs in your diet to aid faster muscle recovery:


BCAAs are present in various foods such as meat, poultry, fish, beans, and lentils, dairy items such as cheese and milk, tofu and tempeh, eggs, quinoa, nuts, and seeds. You may also consider taking BCAA supplements to support muscle growth and physical performance.


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*Disclaimer: This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.