In today’s world, health becomes a very commodity that is on top of the food chain. Once our health is compromised, one cannot fathom its adverse effects towards his work, family and his very future. Such a dreadful scenario brings fear to anyone. Hence, while we are still at our pink of health, it is but mandatory to take care of our body because it will get us to places we never imagine.

We can turn our dreams into a reality through our efforts, intelligence and strength. To keep our body energized, we need to eat a balanced diet, enough sleep and also, take the right supplement our body needs. While there are many supplements available in the market today, you should take a moment and try to know BCAAS supplement. For a start, let us get acquainted with this supplement.

What is BCAAS?

BCAAS are essential amino acids, which our body does not produce yet they constitute more than one third of the protein found in human muscle tissue. They are unique because they are primarily metabolized within the muscle itself, as opposed to being broken down by the liver unlike most other amino acids (1).

As a supplement, it has two important implications for performance, namely: As BCAAS enter the bloodstream rapidly, bypass breakdown in the liver, and are readily taken up by active tissues (mainly muscle), and BCAAS provide an additional fuel source for working muscle, as BCAA breakdown for energy increases during prolonged exercise and play an important role in overall protein turnover, which is to say they help regulate whether the body is in a recovery or catabolic state (2).

Branched chain amino acids (BCAAS) are building blocks for all life-forms. Human proteins are assembled from 20 amino acids, nine of which are considered “essential” because they cannot be synthesized from other metabolites in the human body and among these are the three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs): leucine (Leu), isoleucine (Ile), and valine (Val).

These amino acids can be found in food sources like meat, fish, dairy products, and eggs (3). They also have unique properties with diverse physiological and metabolic roles and have functions other than simple nutrition. Different diseases including metabolic disease lead to protein loss, especially muscle protein. Supplementation of BCAAs promotes protein synthesis and reduces break down, as well as improving disease conditions (4).

Top 6 Benefits of BCAA’s

1. Increases muscle growth

BCAAS’ leucine is the most important of the three that is used for initiating muscle protein synthesis (MPS) necessary for muscle building. A dose of 2-3 g leucine that depends on body weight is generally considered effective to maximally stimulate MPS, and is often referred to as the leucine threshold (5). In one study, people who consumed a drink with 5.6 grams of this supplement after their resistance workout had a 22% greater increase in muscle protein synthesis compared to those who consumed a placebo drink (6).

2. Decreases muscle soreness

BCAAS supplementation prior to and following exercise may reduce the severity and duration of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), the painful sensation that lasts for several days after an intense or unaccustomed exercise bout (7). Studies have shown that intake of the supplement reduces muscle damage in response to both resistance training and endurance exercise that means you can bounce back faster and have less muscle soreness between challenging workouts (8). In addition, a 2017 review that examined studies on how BCAAS supplements alleviate muscle damage found that BCAAS supplementation reduce or prevent muscle damage from high-intensity exercise ‘seems to be poor’ (9).

3. Increases weight loss

This supplement is used by many athletes for weight loss and getting in shape. A 19-day study period is conducted with professional wrestlers who were on a calorie-restricted, high-protein diet and at the same time took BCAA supplements (10). The results reveal that they lost 1.6 kg (3.5 pounds) more compared to those who took another kind of supplements (11). An expert says that when it comes to fat-burning, BCAAs and leucine intake could help with weight loss and supplementation of the BCAA leucine, especially in combination with glutamine, has been shown to help overweight subjects on a hypocaloric diet by helping to reduce excess fat, and helping to normalize visceral fat, which is a marker of metabolic problems (12).

4. Fortifies the immune system

The immune system acts to protect the host from infectious agents that exist in the environment (bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites) and other noxious insults (13). BCAAS supplementation protects the immune system. Cell culture and animal feeding studies indicate that an adequate supply of BCAA is necessary to support efficient immune function (14). In addition, a study is conducted with one group of triathletes supplemented with BCAAS and the other placebo. The results show that BCAA group showed 33.84% reduction of symptoms of infection compared to the place on group (15).

5. Prevents muscle wasting

BCAAS may help prevent muscle wasting or breakdown because muscle proteins are constantly broken down and rebuilt. The balance between muscle protein breakdown and synthesis determines the amount of protein in muscle (16). Muscle wasting or breakdown occurs when protein breakdown exceeds muscle protein synthesis. The occurrence of muscle wasting is a sign of malnutrition and occurs with chronic infections, cancer, periods of fasting and as a natural part of the aging process (17). BCAAS composed the 35% of the essential amino acids found in muscle proteins in humans and the body required 40% of the total amino acids (18). Several studies support the use of BCAA supplements for inhibiting muscle protein breakdown and may improve health outcomes and quality of living especially for the elderly and those with wasting diseases like cancer (19).

6. Promotes cognitive performance

BCAAS supplement has an amazing impact in neurological systems and plays a pivotal role in brain health and cognitive function. The modes of action for BCAAS in the brain particularly revolve around tryptophan transport into the brain and serotonin synthesis (20). Some results have shown that excess BCAA could have negative impact on healthy serotonin levels while low BCAA can cause numerous neurochemical imbalances as well (21).

Conclusion

Taking BCAAS supplementation is generally safe. When taken as instructed and at the correct times, this supplement won’t make you gain weight either. It is advised that vegans and vegetarians are encouraged to check the ingredients of BCAA supplements before introducing them to a nutrition plan (22).

Unfortunately, there are some pitfalls to consider with BCAAS supplementation since it may not be right for everyone. For example, those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are advised not to supplement with BCAAs as it may impact cells in the nervous system while people with a condition known as maple syrup urine disease (MSUD) are unable to properly break down branched chain amino acids and should limit consumption to avoid any potential BCAAs side effects (23).

Weight loss, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, coma and even death are all potential symptoms that can occur as a result of this genetic condition (24). Consult your doctor prior to taking this supplement.