BCAA is the abbreviation for Branched Chain Amino Acids. Your muscles are made up of 20 amino acids. Of this number, 11 are termed non-essential, while the remaining nine are called essential.
The term essential means your body cannot synthesize those amino acids but cannot survive without them. Therefore, you must obtain them from an exogenous source – mostly diet. Three of the nine essential amino acids are BCAA. They include valine, leucine and isoleucine.
BCAA is unique in structure. Unlike other amino acids, peptide chain branches of the backbone as a side chain.
The amino acids are crucial for muscle building and a myriad of physiological processes in your body. BCAA is particularly vital in boosting muscle growth and improving performance.
Leucine, in particular, is very good in muscle growth. This is because it acts as a signal transducer that ‘switches on the process of muscle synthesis.
What Are The Sources Of BCAA?
Since branched-chain amino acids are essential, you have to get them from your diet. Meat and eggs are excellent sources of the three BCAAs. Dairy products and legumes are also excellent sources of amino acids.
However, it is common for people to have a deficiency of BCAA due to several reasons.
- First, many people do not eat enough meat. Furthermore, meat is not a source of protein for vegetarians.
- Second, many people cannot tolerate lactose which is in dairy products. Lactose tolerance is a major problem that can predispose you to essential amino acid deficiency.
- Third, allergy to eggs, dairy products, and meat can also limit your amino acid.
- Finally, it is often difficult to consume enough legumes to provide your body with adequate levels of BCAA.
Proven Benefits of BACC
Because of these four reasons, supplementation of leucine, isoleucine, and valine is important. Today, you can supplement all the essential amino acids. The supplements feature concentrated extracts of amino acids.
Therefore, they can provide you with the minimum daily BACC requirement for the various physiological processes dependent on amino acids. So, what proven benefits will you accrue from using BACC supplements? Check out these seven benefits:
- Fast and Healthy Muscle Growth,
The most researched topic about BACC is its relationship with muscle growth. And true, the branched-chain amino acids are excellent in stimulating fast and healthy muscle growth.
Leucine is a potent stimulant of protein synthesis. As you may know, muscle is mostly protein, and leucine promotes the process of its synthesis.
According to a study published in PubMed, athletes who were put on 5.6 grams of BCAA after a workout session had a 22 percent greater increase in muscle mass than those who received a placebo drink.
On its own, BCAA can increase muscle protein synthesis by a decent margin. However, such an increase is still less than that associated with the consumption of whey protein. This is because whey protein has all the essential amino acids.
- Reduced Muscle Pain After Workout
All forms of exercise, both cardio and endurance, put lots of pressure on muscles. When stimulated, the muscles overstretch, and tendons can tear. Furthermore, excessive breakdown of glucose to energize the working muscles under low oxygen can accumulate lactic acid in the muscles.
There will be net muscle breakdown due to muscle damage and accumulation of toxins. However, studies have proved that BCAAs can prevent muscle damage, reduce muscle soreness and promote muscle recovery following a workout.
This will improve muscle performance, boost workout endurance and reduce muscle fatigue following long workout sessions. Bodybuilders around the world agree and use the best BACC supplements to help them achieve their workout goals.
- Minimizes Muscle Wasting
Naturally, your muscles continuously get broken down and resynthesized. The two processes must be balanced to maintain your muscle mass. If the balance tips towards muscle breakdown, then there will be a net loss of muscle mass. The reverse is true.
You may experience muscle wasting as a sign of chronic illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, tuberculosis, and more. It can also happen following fasting and as part of normal aging.
Branched-chain amino acids stimulate protein synthesis within muscles and, therefore, can reverse the effects of wasting. Therefore replacing BACC and other essential amino acids during conditions of wasting can muscle loss.
Several peer-reviewed studies have been conducted to prove the benefits of branched amino acids in inhibiting muscle breakdown. This could be a breakthrough in the treatment of several medical conditions associated with muscle wasting.
- Treatment Of Certain Liver Conditions
Big pharmaceutical companies are now manufacturing medicines whose main ingredients are the three branched-chain amino acids. One study has shown that BACC can help treat several liver conditions that interfere with the synthetic and metabolic functions of the organ.
The liver synthesizes protein, removes toxins, and controls several body functions. Therefore, liver cirrhosis is a major cause of liver dysfunction.
It leads to the accumulation of toxins in the body, including the brain, called hepatic encephalopathy. This brain condition, if mild, can cause confusion and forgetfulness. Severe cases can lead to the shaking of hands, disorientation, and slurred speech.
Medics use BACC supplements to treat hepatic encephalopathy and other conditions associated with liver dysfunction. An intravenous injection (IV) can reverse the toxic effects and restore life.
- Treatment of Tardive Dyskinesia
The term tardive dyskinesia (TD) is medical jargon, but there is no simpler way to put it. It describes abnormal jerky, repetitive movements that occur in the face, tongue, and muscles.
You can get the TD following long-term treatment with certain medicines used to treat mental illnesses. Antipsychotic and anti-nausea (anti-emetics) drugs are the major culprits.
Several studies have been conducted and results published in reputable and authoritative websites like WebMD. Supplements of BACC can reduce the symptoms associated with TD.
- Promotes Weight Loss
You may be wondering how branched-chain amino acids can help you lose weight, yet they promote muscle mass. Increased calorie intake is a major cause of excessive weight. This is because excess calories are converted into fat.
Obesity and excessive weight can cause many health problems, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney failure, and more. If you can gain muscle instead of fat, you will have a healthy body mass index (BMI).
In a small study conducted back in 2009, 26 strained health-trained males receiving 14g of BCAA daily for three months lost one percent of fat and gained 4.4lbs of lean muscle mass.
- Better Appetite
Those keen on building muscles are encouraged to adopt high protein diets. But, unfortunately, too much protein has a satiety response (the sensation of fullness). As a result, they struggle with appetite and therefore cannot eat a sufficient amount of protein.
BCAA supplementation has proven effective in alleviating the satiety response. Besides, the amino acids will stimulate protein synthesis and provide your body with the essential amino acids it needs.
Research conducted a few years ago associated altitude-induced hypoxia with appetite suppression. Thus people training at high altitudes may benefit from the appetite bettering effects of BACC supplements.
Branched-chain amino acids are vital to life, but your body cannot synthesize them. Furthermore, it isn’t easy to eat enough from your diet. This leaves you with a single option – the use of BCAA supplements. While there are several companies out there making such supplements, quality is important. Work with a reputable brand to unlock the proven benefits of BACC supplements.