Branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs, are essential amino acids. They get their name from their spider web-like molecular structure.
The human body uses amino acids to make proteins. There are 20 that the human body requires.
However, 9 of these, including BCAAs, are labeled as essential. This is because they are not produced by the body, and therefore must be consumed.
BCAAs pack in 3 essential amino acids -- leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
What are the benefits of taking BCAAs?
BCCAs are used by the body to make proteins -- you can think of them as building blocks.
However, these essential amino acids pose a number of additional benefits to your body.
From reducing the amount of serotonin production in the brain to producing energy and encouraging cells to absorb sugar from the bloodstream, these functions come to life through a number of benefits to your health and wellness.
Here are the 3 most common benefits:
- BCAAs improve muscle recovery.
BCAAs are known to reduce muscle soreness after exercise.
They do so by targeting creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase, enzymes that contribute to muscle damage.
This particular benefit of BCAAs is why they are included in muscle recovery supplements.
- BCAAs may improve muscle mass and help weight loss.
In addition to muscle recovery, BCAAs may also play a part in both muscle growth and weight loss.
When it comes to increasing muscle mass, BCAAs do so by activating enzymes that are responsible for this growth. This explains why various types of athletes incorporate BCAA supplements into their daily supplement regimen.
However, there are less evidentials on how BCAAs impact weight loss. Nevertheless, these essential amino acids have been observed in many settings to positively contribute to weight loss, in addition to the prevention of weight gain.
- BCAAs may reduce fatigue.
Some studies have shown that BCAAs may reduce physical and mental fatigue during exercise.
This may pose benefits to your motivation to keep moving during your workout, while improving your physical performance and endurance.
When is the best time to take BCAAs?
The best time to take BCAAs are before or after you workout.
If your goal is to reduce muscle fatigue and feel more energized during your workout, it is recommended that you take a BCAA supplement before you exercise.
On the other hand, it’s recommended you take BCAAs after your workout if your objective is to reduce muscle soreness and improve recovery time.
What foods contain BCAAs?
BCAAs are naturally occurring in a number of foods, including meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, soy-based proteins, legumes, quinoa, nuts and seeds.
So, if your diet is protein deficient, it may be a good idea to add a BCAA supplement to the mix.