Quick Facts on Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)
Not sure what branch chain amino acids (BCAAs) are and why you should take them? Here's the quick and dirty lowdown for you on this supplement I use every day.
What are BCAAs? Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are a supplement which you can get in a powder form, tablet form, and even on-the-go bottles that are ready to drink. These typically contain 3 essential amino acids:
Valine: Helps to repair tissues, promotes normal growth, regulates blood sugar levels, and energizes the body.
Leucine: Stimulates protein synthesis and assists with muscle building.
Isoleucine: Helps to boost up the energy levels and to assist the body in recovering from strenuous physical activity.
When you compare different BCAAs, you may sometimes see statements such as "New improved 2:1:1 ratio," which is a fancy way of saying that there is twice the amount of leucine in comparison to valine and isoleucine. The reason for this is that twice the amount of leucine has heavily been linked to aiding and stimulating protein synthesis and suppressing the breakdown of muscle protein.
Why take BCAAs?
Reduced fatigue: Increased levels of BCAAs reduce the amount of tryptophan delivered to the brain, which is used to produce serotonin and decrease exercise fatigue.
Reduced effects of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)
Promote muscle building: BCAAs help to stimulate the synthesis of protein in our muscles and suppress the breakdown of muscle protein.
Provide a source of energy during prolonged exercise: BCAAs are a go-to energy source when glucose levels are low or depleted, which happens during and after a strenuous workout.
Are there any adverse effects of BCAAs? BCAAs are relatively harmless in that our bodies will either utilize them or simply excrete them through urine, so you generally don't need to worry about adverse side effects. It has been suggested that to most effectively reap the benefits of BCAAs, they should be supplemented daily as opposed to an “on/off” basis.
I use them during every workout for the benefits listed above and I always use natural vegan BCAAs to get the cleanest ingredients possible for optimal health. Look for brands that offer a natural sweetener instead of added sugar or artificial alternatives such as aspartame or sucralose like Transparent Labs CoreSeries BCAA Glutamine or Canadian Protein All Natural Vegan BCAAs.