Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Muscles are proteins. BCAAs are called “branched-chain” because their chemical structure has a branched shape.
BCAAs are found in high concentrations in muscle tissue, with almost one-third of muscle made up of BCAAs! Notably, branched-chain amino acids are used by the body for energy production and protein synthesis.
BCAAs are considered essential amino acids because the body cannot produce them on its own. Therefore, they must be obtained from food or supplements. The body can make most amino acids.
There are nine amino acids the body can’t make. These nine are essential = you must eat. Three of the essentials are branched-chain amino acids: Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. As stated above, these BCAAs make up almost one-third of your muscle tissue.
Food sources high in BCAAs include beef, chicken breast, tuna, salmon, and eggs. Other protein food sources contain BCAAs, including nuts, legumes, milk, and soy. However, supplementing may help preserve muscle tissue, especially among active individuals.
After a hard workout, you want to supply your muscles with easy access to the amino acids necessary for muscle repair and growth. A supplement contains the essential building blocks in a form ready to use. Relying on food, while necessary, the body has to digest the protein food source, breaking down the food to its usable form.
After working out, there is a 30-minute window where muscles readily take up nutrients. Supplying a readily available form of aminos in this window is optimal for muscle growth and repair, which can also reduce muscle soreness. Make sense?
Potential Side Effects and Warnings
BCAAs are generally safe for most people to take. However, they may cause side effects in some people, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. BCAAs may also interact with certain medications, specifically diabetic medications, as BCAAs might lower blood sugar. It is important to talk to your doctor before taking BCAAs in supplement form, especially if you have known liver problems, diabetes, or nerve problems.
If you are considering taking BCAAs, it is important to choose a high-quality supplement that contains all three BCAAs in the correct ratio. (See below for a product recommended by CFit.) Ideally, a supplement should provide 5 grams of BCAAs per serving with 2 grams of leucine, 1 gram of isoleucine, and 1 gram of valine. Interestingly, leucine is the most important BCAA regarding muscle growth, thus the higher ratio.
==> You should start with a low dose and gradually increase it as needed. Do not take large doses.
Benefits of BCAAs
BCAAs have been shown to have a number of benefits for athletes and active individuals. They can help to improve muscle endurance, reduce muscle soreness, and promote muscle recovery. BCAAs may also help to improve mental focus and reduce fatigue during exercise. Supplementing with BCAAs ensures consuming enough to reap benefits after hard training sessions.
There is some evidence that BCAAs may also help to promote weight loss. However, more research is needed in this area.
- Improve muscle endurance. BCAAs can help to improve muscle endurance by reducing the breakdown of muscle tissue during exercise. This can help you to work out harder and for more extended periods.
- Reduce muscle soreness. BCAAs can help to reduce muscle soreness after exercise by reducing the amount of inflammation in the muscles. This can help you to recover from your workouts more quickly.
- Promote muscle recovery. BCAAs can help to promote muscle recovery by providing the body with the amino acids it needs to rebuild muscle tissue. This can help you to get back to your workouts sooner.
- Improve mental focus. BCAAs may help to improve mental focus during exercise by reducing fatigue and increasing energy levels. This can help you to stay focused on your workout and avoid distractions.
- Reduce fatigue. BCAAs may help to reduce fatigue during exercise by providing the body with the energy it needs to perform at its best. This can help you to push yourself harder and get more out of your workouts.
- Promote weight loss. BCAAs may help to promote weight loss by increasing the body’s metabolic rate and reducing appetite. However, more research is needed in this area.
Overall, BCAAs are a safe and effective supplement that can provide a number of benefits for athletes and active individuals. If you are considering taking BCAAs, be sure to choose a high-quality supplement and start with a low dose.
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