BCAA's (Branched Chain Amino Acids): Uses, Benefits and Side-Effects

BCAA's | HealthInsta

These days people love to find some of the best supplements for themselves, and it is important to not only help in having better nutritional addition to the diet but also for better health and growth. Though a balanced diet is something that can satisfy every nutritional requirement of the body, at times food may not be enough. For this, one may need something extra like dietary supplements. One such popular supplements that many opt for are branched-chain amino acids.

What are BCAAs?

Branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs are chain structures of some amino acids. They are usually found in food and can be taken in the form of supplements as well. Branched-chain amino acids are crucial for one's body because this is what is burned to produce energy. Amino acids valine, isoleucine and leucine is formed into a chain-like structure and that is why it is named as BCAA. Today you can find several BCAA supplements in the markets that will help in fulfilling the amino acid need in the body.

Natural Sources of BCAAs

Many think that supplements are the only way to get the branched-chain amino acids, but that is not the case. Several natural foods are rich sources of branched-chain amino acids like:
  • Lentils
  • Chicken/eggs/fish
  • Soy proteins and whey
  • Milk
  • Chickpeas
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Whole wheat
  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Brown rice

When BCAA is Needed? 

Most of the time the BCAA supplements are taken by the athletes and sportspersons who need to recover from rigorous workout sessions and games. They are not meant to enhance the performance, but instead helps make the muscles more adept to workout. As the muscles get tired and worn out during workouts, these supplements help in recovering from muscle fatigue and tiredness. There are certain times when the BCAA are also used as therapeutic options to treat brain disorders of some type, muscle wasting and loss of appetite.

BCAA is also effective in increasing the appetite in those who are malnourished or in cancer patients. Depending on what is the objective of taking BCAA, the dosages tend to change as well.

    Uses of BCAAs

    There are 9 essential amino acids that our body needs. Among them, the essential amino acids that are part of BCAA are valine, isoleucine, and leucine.  You would ideally not want your body to go into the catabolic state where the body burns tissues because of calorie cut-down. It would then not burn fat and might result in loss of muscles instead of building it which happens in the anabolic state.

    The logic is simple, your body needs the amino acids to build muscles because it is the main source of energy. This in-turn is again important to boost fitness and sports performance. Among the important BCAA benefits is preventing muscle breakdown or loss.

    Benefits of BCAAs

    • Aerobic and anaerobic performance can be improved and thus is good for those who are speed athletes or sportspersons like cyclists.
    • Daily consumption can reduce the fatigue of the muscles. Also, it can help in delaying the fatigue time if you are working out for a longer time, as the BCAA acts as a source of energy.
    • BCAA supplements also help in making the immune system stronger and better. As continuous training at high velocity can lead to immune suppression, BCAA can help in keeping the immune cells in the gut functional.
    • Lastly, the main reason why BCAA supplements are common for the weightlifters is their capability to synthesize muscle protein. The leucine that is found in BCAA is the main source for starting muscle protein synthesis.

    Side-Effects of BCAAs

    If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s not recommended that you take BCAAs. There has not been enough reliable evidence to suggest it is safe to do so.