Trainers and gym enthusiasts may be discussing BCAA supplements, but additional details are needed to fully grasp BCAA’s potential advantages.
BCAA or branched-chain amino acids comprises three primary amino acids, i.e., isoleucine, Leucine, and valine.
These three amino acids are considered essential compounds as the human body doesn’t prepare them.
Hence, people get these vital amino acids from natural and artificial sources.
Irrespective of the source, BCAA plays a massive role in building a strong and muscular body.
Moreover, they participate in different metabolic activities to keep an individual healthy.
Hence, this article will collectively mention all the known benefits of BCAA for better usage of the compound.
Benefits Of BCAA
The following are some of the most noteworthy benefits of BCAA-
May Enhance Muscle Growth
BCAA supplements have been highly preferred to boost muscle growth. Hence, these supplements are mainly consumed by bodybuilders, wrestlers, etc.
The BCAA leucine helps activate a pathway that initiates muscle protein synthesis.
As per this study, essential enzymes in protein synthesis are activated by branched-chain amino acids, post exercising.
Moreover, people consuming BCAA supplements alongside resistance training may observe enhanced muscle protein synthesis than BCAA alone.
Some people prefer consuming BCAA and other supplements like whey protein combinedly to get the highest advantages.
Generally, BCAA lacks some vital amino acids that the human body requires during muscle protein synthesis.
Hence, consuming additional supplements supplies a good mix of all nine amino acids that would help maximize muscle growth.
May Help Lower Muscle Soreness
Muscle soreness is a common problem faced by numerous gym enthusiasts, especially beginners.
But, muscle soreness may restrict you from maintaining regularity in your workout routine.
Hence, you may prefer consuming BCAA to reduce soreness and get back to your workout routine faster.
Generally, you may see muscle soreness within 12-24 hours of workout, which could last up to 72 hours.
But, to date, the cause of muscle soreness isn’t known to people.
Some assumptions suggest that the soreness known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) could be due to muscle tears after the workout.
Here, BCAA could help reduce muscle damage and lower the severity.
Moreover, the supplement reduces protein breakdown and creatine kinase level, a muscle damage indicator, during exercise to decrease muscle tears leading to low muscle soreness.
May Prevent Loss Of Muscles
The human body constantly breaks and synthesizes proteins to maintain balance and build muscles.
Moreover, maintaining the balance would help determine the amount of protein in the muscles.
But, in some instances, the protein breakdown exceeds the amount synthesized, resulting in muscle wasting.
Generally, muscle wasting may occur due to malnutrition, chronic disorders, aging, fasting, etc. Hence, you may prefer consuming BCAA to reduce excessive muscle loss.
People consuming BCAA supplements during muscle loss would help fulfill the shortage of amino acids required for protein synthesis.
Moreover, the supplement would help reduce excessive protein breakdown due to a lack of essential amino acids.
Thus, helping regain the lost equilibrium of protein breakdown and synthesis.
May Help Lower The Symptoms Of Liver Disease
BCAAs function has been linked with improving cirrhosis, a chronic disease that disrupts or stops liver function.
In some cases, the loss of liver function may lead to hepatic encephalopathy resulting in loss of brain function.
Such severe conditions may arise due to the inability of the liver to remove toxins from the blood.
These serious medical conditions are primarily treated using antibiotics and certain sugars.
But, people may consume BCAA to reduce the risk of developing hepatic encephalopathy.
Moreover, people suffering from chronic conditions may observe lowering disease symptoms.
Additionally, supplying BCAAs to the patients would improve their liver function and lower the risk of surgical complications.
May Help Boost Weight Loss
BCAA supplements could be highly beneficial for people losing weight.
Moreover, as per this study, BCAA may also help in regulating body weight and glucose homeostasis.
These amino acid supplements would help increase fat loss, essential for cutting overall weight.
Moreover, BCAA consumption increases fat oxidation, an important mechanism for burning excessive fat.
Such massive change occurs as the body switches from carbohydrates to fat as its energy source.
BCAA supplementation alongside resistance training would be beneficial in faster weight loss.
Resistance training would demand higher energy; BCAA would break down fat to supply energy.
Moreover, these amino acids would help reduce muscle wastage, retaining lean muscle mass.
Hence, consuming a protein-rich, low-calorie diet alongside branched-chain amino acids would balance protein breakdown and boost fat burning.
May Help Lower Fatigue
Branched-chain amino acids are highly helpful in lowering after-workout fatigue.
Generally, every individual experiences fatigue after workouts due to specific reasons.
But, how fast an individual gets normal depends on multiple reasons like the workout’s intensity and duration, nutrition, fitness, and environmental factors.
But how do people experience fatigue after a workout?
The human body utilizes BCAA during workouts resulting in reduced concentration in blood.
Due to low BCAA concentration, the brain accumulates tryptophan, an essential amino acid.
Later, tryptophan converts to serotonin, a chemical that develops fatigue in an individual.
Hence, consuming BCAA supplements may balance the lowered concentration in the blood resulting in reduced fatigue.
Moreover, you may perform better during an exercise due to reduced fatigue and increased focus, by BCAA’s fatigue-reducing properties.
May Boost Energy Levels
BCAA could help boost the energy levels and athletic endurance of an individual.
Glucose acts as the primary energy source for the human body. The muscles use glucose to produce a biochemical compound, i.e., adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
Muscles store the fuel or glucose as glycogen, which they utilize during different metabolic and physical activities.
But, glycogen stored isn’t unlimited, hence, it exhausts after regular use. Here, BCAA would help restore glycogen scarcity.
BCAA isoleucine would help increase muscle glucose uptake. Hence, muscles get sufficient fuel for better performance resulting in improved athletic endurance.
May Help Decrease Appetite
Branched-chain amino acids, especially Leucine, could help as an appetite suppressant.
Leucine plays a direct role in lowering an individual’s appetite and making them feel full.
Leucine creates a mind-body connection by stimulating the release of a growth factor for muscles called mTOR.
Due to increased mTOR levels in the body, the brain gets the signal of fullness. Moreover, it also tells the brain that the nutritional requirement for the day is met.
Hence, as a response, the brain signals the body to stop consuming excessive food, resulting in reduced appetite.
But, you must consume Leucine in balanced quantities to avoid nutrient deficiency and weakness.
May Maintain Hormonal Balance
Athletes must maintain a perfect hormonal balance to perform better in their respective sports.
But, due to various circumstances, they may experience unbalanced testosterone and cortisol levels in the blood.
Imbalance in testosterone and cortisol levels may turn problematic for athletes. Higher testosterone could help build lean muscle mass and repair damaged tissues.
On the other hand, higher cortisol levels may disturb the normal metabolic balance. Hence, maintaining the required balance for smooth functioning of the body.
Here, branched-chain amino acids could help balance the two primary hormones in the body, especially after the workout.
People maintaining a proper ratio of testosterone and cortisol would recover faster, lose excess weight, and gain muscles.
But, BCAA would help maintain the optimum levels or amount of these two vital hormones alongside maintaining their concentration.
May Provide Sufficient Nutrition During Pregnancy
Supplying sufficient nutrients during pregnancy is essential for a mother and growing fetus.
Hence, she should consume all nine essential amino acids in her diet.
A pregnant woman’s daily protein intake is restricted to 70 grams. Hence, she should consume different protein sources to meet her daily needs and amino acid intake.
Including BCAA in the diet would help her include essential amino acids like Leucine, valine, and isoleucine.
Moreover, BCAA may help maintain the optimum nutrition for a healthy pregnancy.
During pregnancy, the mother should maintain a healthy weight and low fat to avoid complications and difficulty while delivering.
Here, BCAA would be beneficial in cutting the excess fat and increasing muscle content in the body.
But, you must consult any healthcare specialist before including BCAA in the diet for safe use.
May Boost Immune System And Response
BCAA consumption may help improve your immune response and fight against foreign agents. An individual’s immunity is vital to stay healthy and disease-free.
Here, BCAA consumption could be beneficial to support cellular function and restrict the entry of disease-causing microbes like viruses, bacteria, etc.
Branched-chain amino acids may help in protein synthesis and energy production. But, all three BCAA individually and differently boost immunity.
Isoleucine is responsible for increasing beta-defensin, a compound that restricts the entry of harmful bacteria.
Valine helps by improving the dendrite’s function in sensing the presence of toxic substances.
Similarly, Leucine helps boost overall immunity and strategically adapt pathogens in the body.
Therefore, for improved body growth, you need to take several various essential amino acids in the right amounts.
Various amino acids may have specific functions in weight loss, muscle growth, metabolism boosts, etc.
Regardless of your occupation, you should think about including amino acids from a variety of food sources, by updating your meal plans.
Therefore, through these ways, you could live a healthier life with reduced health issues.
Working4Health prefers using primary and verified references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and our primary references include peer-reviewed research, academic, and medical institution studies.
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Alisha Matthew has been a practicing nutritionist since 2016. She holds a master’s degree in nutrition from the University of IOWA. She is a staunch believer in improving the human health index by educating people about nutrition and the importance of nutrition in leading a healthy and happy life. Her long-term goal is to keep educating people on general health and keep herself updated with the latest trends in the field of health.