BCAAs refer to three (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) of the 20 amino acids that the body needs. BCAA or branched-chain amino acids are rapid supplements metabolized in the skeleton muscles. This means they skip the liver and directly enter the bloodstream. BCAAs make up 1/3 of skeletal muscle protein.
The body cannot produce the amino acids on its own. Amino acids are available through diets or supplementation.
Amino acids have been around since the mid-nineteenth century. Yet, BCAAs formulas have been on the market only since 1996. The formula was used to treat liver diseases such as cirrhosis. Later it became a popular nootropic supplement for athletes.
Since then, it has been a subject of intense study. Since they are building blocks for all life forms, with use cases ranging from protein synthesis to insulin secretion, most hard training programs for muscle and endurance include BCAAs. While the most notable BCAA benefit is to build muscles, it also improves stamina and alleviates muscle soreness.
Unlike most amino acids that break down in the liver, BCAAs are synthesized in the muscles. They are thought to play a role in energy production during the workout. They represent around 35 to 40 percent of all the essential amino acids in the body, and 14-18 percent of those are found in muscles.
BCAAs play several other roles too in the body, such as:
The body uses BCAAs as building blocks for protein and muscles. Supplementing helps turn on the muscle-building engines. Leucine impacts the body’s capacity to build muscle proteins.
BCAAs stimulate the cells to take in sugar from the bloodstream. Among the three, isoleucine and valine are the most effective. Both are responsible for producing energy. This is achieved by regulating blood sugar levels. By regulating blood sugar levels, your body preserves liver and muscle sugar stores.
BCAAs reduce fatigue felt during exercise. This is achieved by reducing serotonin production in the brain. Besides, the supplement reduces perceived muscle soreness. As a result, it helps extend stamina for a workout.
BCAAs are the best pre-workout supplement to reduce exercise-induced muscle soreness and damage. Besides, they may speed up muscle recovery. Taking BCAAs seems to preserve muscle protein and prevent breakdown.
Supplementation with BCAA showed a reduction in central fatigue after an intense workout.
The supplement was shown to prevent a decline in short-term memory caused by an intense workout. It also reduces the decline in reaction time.
BCAAs increase lean mass better than other supplements. When supplemented with high levels of leucine, it promotes muscle building. It can also help with weight loss while preserving muscle mass.
A study done on BCAAs showed improved mental performance in athletics. It can be combined with arginine and serine. The combination showed enhanced endurance and performance in athletics. It maintains high-energy capacity through the fat breakdown. The process occurs once the body depletes glycogen stores. This powers the body to endure more intense workouts.
Infusion with BCAA resulted in improved breathing control that reduced sleep apnea. Also, it influenced REM sleep and decreased end-tidal CO2 levels. These are important for sleep functions.
BCAA supplements are available in two forms— BCAA powders and tablets. A single dose of this supplement at any time should be 5-10 grams. It could be taken up to 3 times a day, depending on the serving and concentration of BCAA.
The powder is mixed with water for pre-workout supplementation. Tablets are swallowed whole with water. You can take it as a sports drink during workouts.
Branched-chain amino acids are safe when taken by mouth in the right dosage.
Possible overdose side effects include fatigue and loss of coordination. The supplement might also cause:
A branched-chain amino acid is an essential supplement. In athletes, it supports muscle recovery and functions. BCAAs are more beneficial when taken either pre or post-exercise. Excessive usage rarely has adverse side effects. In the US, it is available in powder or tablet form.