Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA)

BCAA Benefits: A Review of Branched-Chain Amino Acids

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are a group of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine.

BCAA supplements are commonly taken in order to boost muscle growth and enhance exercise performance. They may also help with weight loss and reduce fatigue after exercise.

This article contains all the most important information about branched-chain amino acids and their benefits.

What Are BCAAs?

BCAAs consist of three essential amino acids:

  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine
  • Valine

These amino acids are grouped together because they are the only three amino acid to have a chain that branches off to one side.

 

How Do Branched-Chain Amino Acids Work?

BCAAs make up a large chunk of the body's total amino acid pool.

Together, they represent around 35–40% of all essential amino acids present in your body and 14–18% of those found in your muscles.

Contrary to most other amino acids, BCAAs are mostly broken down in the muscle, rather than in the liver. Because of this, they are thought to play a role in energy production during exercise.

BCAAs play several other roles in your body too.

First, your body can use them as building blocks for protein and muscle.

They may also be involved in regulating your blood sugar levels by preserving liver and muscle sugar stores and stimulating your cells to take in sugar from your bloodstream.

What's more, BCAAs may help reduce the fatigue you feel during exercise by reducing the production of serotonin in your brain.

Out of the three, leucine is thought have the biggest impact on your body's capacity to build muscle proteins.

Meanwhile, isoleucine and valine seem more effective at producing energy and regulating your blood sugar levels.


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