Are you looking for an amino acid? If so then one you should consider is branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs). This is a combination of three amino acids and is found in branched-chain amino acid supplements. Amino acids are important because they’re the building blocks of proteins. There are essential amino acids (EAAs) that we have to get through food and supplements since the body doesn’t produce them. Some good sources include meat, eggs, dairy, and soybeans. If you eat these foods, they can provide the aminos we require in our daily diet. Food is always the best source but supplements are also a good option.
BCAAs are believed to provide many benefits. They include more muscle gains and less muscle soreness after gym workouts. These are both features you’ll want to have as post-workout benefits. There are three EAAs included in BCAAs, so you’re getting three aminos instead of one. This makes it an outstanding choice if you want to increase strength/muscle gains while reducing recovery time. Both are important goals if you want to get ripped muscles. These supplements are available at many stores like health food stores and online retailers like Amazon. It’s important to first know the ABCs of BCAAs.
What in the World Are BCAAs?
First, let’s talk about what branched-chain amino acids are all about. These are three of the nine essential amino acids (EAAs). They’re essential because the human body is unable to produce these 9 EAAs. As a result, we have to get them from food, drinks, or supplements.
BCAAs include isoleucine, leucine, and valine. These are one-third of all the EAAs. You might be wondering about the name of these EAAs. They’re named because they form a chain that moves in the direction of one side. This makes these amino acids different from other aminos.
BCAAs comprise a maximum of 40% of all EAAs in any human’s body. Meanwhile, about 15% to 20% are located in muscle tissues. A key difference between BCAAs is muscles instead of the liver break them down. So, it’s believed they’re critical for workouts.
BCAAs have many functions in the human body. For example, they’re involved in different functions related to sugars, protein, muscles, and liver. It’s believed BCAAs can also provide several benefits related to workouts. They include muscle gains, recovery time, and fat loss.
The three amino acids also provide different benefits. For example, valine and isoleucine seem to boost energy and help manage levels of blood sugar. Meanwhile, leucine seems to provide the most benefits for building lean muscle mass.
You’ll have many options when picking BCAA supplements. In 2018 the global value of dietary supplements was about $125 billion last year. So, you’ll have many options in terms of factors like brands, prices, and so on.
As always, it’s important to research what you’re getting in a particular BCAA supplement. Keep in mind there are three aminos so you’ll want to know how much of each one you’re getting in a product, for example. You can also research issues like quality to pick the best product.
Branched Chain Amino Acids Supplements: Top Benefits
1. Muscle recovery
A key benefit of BCAAs is studies show they can help to reduce muscle soreness following weight-resistance sessions. It’s normal for you to have sore muscles 1-2 days following your workout. This is especially the case if you’re just starting a workout program.
BCAAs help by reducing the breakdown of proteins during workouts. They also lower creatinine levels, which is a sign of having muscle damage. If you use BCAA supplements before workouts it might help to reduce recovery time.
2. Muscle breakdown
BCAAs can help to reduce something called muscle breakdown. It’s critical to boost muscle protein so you can experience muscle gains instead of muscle breakdowns. This breakdown or “wasting” shows you’re not getting enough nutrients and takes place as part of the natural aging process.
BCAAs make up about one-third of all EAAs that are contained in humans’ muscle proteins. So, it’s critical to replace various BCAAs when muscle breakdown is happening to prevent muscle loss. Several studies show that BCAA supplements can help to prevent muscle breakdown.
BCAAs might especially be helpful for particular populations. They include people with diseases like cancer and seniors.
3. Muscle gains
This is believed to be one of the main benefits of BCAAs. Several studies show that these three BCAAs can provide several benefits related to building lean muscle mass. For example, one of the aminos helps with protein synthesis, which helps to build muscle.
BCAAs seem about half as effective as whey protein for building muscle mass. However, it’s still a good option if that’s one of your goals for weightlifting/bodybuilding.
4. Less fatigue
BCAAs might also help to lower fatigue caused by exercise. It’s normal to experience exhaustion/fatigue when exercising. However, how fast they start is based on various factors including the duration/intensity of your workouts.
Best Food Sources for BCAAs
This includes options like chicken, beef, and fish. These are some of the best sources for BCAAs, EAAs, and protein. If you’re looking for healthy choices go with chicken and fish instead of pork and beef. Eggs are also a good option since they’re another food with complete proteins.
If you’re worried about cholesterol with eggs you have a few options. You could swap out all the yolks if you have high blood cholesterol already. Another option is to use a 2:1 ratio of egg whites/yolks.
2. Whole Grains
Go with options like brown rice and whole wheat to get the most aminos. These are much healthier than refined grains like white rice and white bread.
Go with almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts as another good source of BCAAs. These are also high in good fats and many vitamins/minerals. Make sure you eat at least a couple of servings of tree nuts every week.
This includes options like lima beans, baked beans, and chickpeas. Different beans have different amino acids so it’s important to eat a wide variety. Even if a particular type of bean doesn’t have all the EAAs in it you can consume multiple beans to maximize your intake of aminos.
Are you worried about lectin proteins? You can reduce them by sprouting or soaking beans. Another option is to simply cook them, which makes beans more edible anyway.
Most of the “complete protein” foods with all essential amino acids (EAAs) are animal products. However, there some plant-based ones like soybeans. This is why it’s one of the superfoods.
You can get BCAAs from several soy-based products like milk, burgers, and miso soup. You can even prepare soybeans for meals and then enjoy them with other ingredients like rice. This is one of the best sources of BCAAs besides branched-chain amino acids supplements.