Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, and protein is the building block of life. Sure we do need carbs and fat for energy and some structure, but the bulk of our physical mass is protein-based.
If you’re an active individual the need for a constant and sufficient supply of essential amino acids is even more urgent.
Among these essential amino acids, the BCAAs shine with a special task.
What Are BCAAs?
BCAAs short for branched-chain amino acids are a class of amino acids that include leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
These 3 amino acids are part of the 9 essential amino acids, meaning your body needs them and can only get them from an inclusive diet.
The special thing about BCAAs is that they are the predominant form of amino acids in your muscle protein.
This means they play a key role in the building and maintenance of muscle tissue.
Where Do I Get BCAAs?
As mentioned, BCAAs are 3 of the 9 essential amino acids. That means you can get them from any complete protein sources such as meat fish or some plants like hemp, quinoa or spirulina.
BCAAs are also popular as a sports supplement, often coming in the form of flavored drinks or powders sold by sports and nutrition supplements brands.
On the topic of supplements, any good complete protein supplement such a whey protein will inherently contain BCAAs.
In this article, we’re going to dig into a few ways BCAAs can contribute to your health and fitness, especially where performance and muscle building are concerned.
We won’t really focus on BCAA supplements, it’s up to you whether you choose to get BCAAs as an isolated supplement or as part of a complete protein.
But before we get in too deep, please make sure to take a look at the Life Renu store and take advantage of our incredible deals on health-boosting supplements.
Top 5 Useful Benefits of BCAAs
1. Increased muscle growth
Since BCAAs constitute the majority of the amino acid profile of muscle protein, it’s fair and accurate to conclude that they play a role in building muscle.
BCAAs are indeed necessary towards muscle growth as part of the mTOR muscle protein synthesis pathway
2. Reduced Fatigue During Workouts
One incredible effect of BCAAs is its ability to influence workout performance.
This is achieved through valine, one of the 3 BCAAs you’ll encounter.
Valine crosses the blood-brain barrier and prevents the signal your brain sends to your muscle calling for a slowdown in physical activity.
This happens when the brain feels that your body has used enough energy and effort and it’s time for a break.
Valine helps you up to your training endurance for a more desirable training effect
3. Preserves Lean Muscle
Aside from muscle growth and recomposition. BCAAs help you retain the gains.
Because your muscle protein amino acid profile is largely owed to these three amino acids, having an abundance of them will help with the preservation of muscle.
We often lose muscle with age, illness or inactivity, so it’s good to have a backup plan when life gives your gains some lemons.
4. Decreases DOMS
Delayed onset of muscle soreness, also known as DOMS is a phenomenon in fitness. While not much is known about what causes it, research assumes it could be due to one of these factors:
Muscle fiber microtrauma
Connective tissue damage
Induced immune system response
Whichever one of these it happens to be, BCAAs have an answer.
When it comes to microtrauma of the muscle, BCAAs are available for repair and recovery.
If there is a strain in connective tissue, BCAAs provide similar support as they do for muscle recovery.
If its a question of immune triggered inflammation, BCAAs are known to have anti-inflammatory properties
5. Decreases Blood Sugar Levels
BCAAs can help manage and maintain healthy blood glucose levels.
This is essential both for active individuals who seek a steady replenishment of glycogen stocks and also for sufferers of diabetes and pre-diabetes.
The effect BCAAs have on blood sugar levels is due to leucine and isoleucine stimulating the release of insulin.
This speeds up the uptake of glucose in the blood, converting it to the storage molecule glycogen.
The management of blood glucose levels also has a profound antioxidant effect. This helps in many aspects of health including boosting the immune system and slowing down the effects of aging.
BCAAs are essential and very useful, no doubt about it, but the question you’re probably asking is should I supplement with them?
Well, that’s totally up to you because as long as you have a healthy daily intake of complete proteins, you don’t really need an extra source of BCAAs.
However, if you are an active individual or a focused athlete, it’s definitely worth considering to supplement BCAAs along with your regular complete protein intake