Are you looking for amino acid supplements? Fun Fact: In 2017 the amino supplement market was worth over $51 million in the USA alone. There are different forms like powders, tablets, and liquids. The goal of all of them is to boost a person’s amino acid intake through branched amino acids benefits. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. The human body produces about half of them but needs all 20 to get their benefits. The best source of nutrients like aminos is always food. However, you can add to your daily intake by taking amino acid supplements. This, in turn, can boost your protein intake and overall health.
One of the groups of aminos is something called “branched-chain” aminos. These are one-third of the aminos we have to get from food and supplements. That’s because the body doesn’t produce them naturally. So people have to get them from outside sources like food and supplements. As the name suggests amino supplements should add to (not replace) your aminos from food. BCAA supplements are some of the different amino supplements on the market. When combined with real food they can make sure you’re getting the right number and amount of aminos required for good health.
What Exactly Are BCAAs?
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) have been trending in recent years. They’re three of the essential amino acids (EAAs). They include:
The most critical one is Leucine. It’s like an army general or football quarterback that helps the other EAAs work together In fact, the human body requires about 40mg of Leucine daily, which is the highest amount among all EAAs.
The body uses the 9 EAAs and 11 non-EAAs to produce proteins. These are the “building blocks” of protein. They’re found in every human cell/tissue/organ. They’re also important for other functions like metabolism. Your body needs to produce enough of all 20 amino acids. For example, EAAs are found in food, beverages, and supplements that people consume.
Some foods contain all 9 EAAs and enough for your daily needs. These are “complete proteins.” In other words, they contain the full number/amount of the EAAs people need daily.
EAAs are important for several body functions. They include physical and mental ones. For example, essential aminos can help with various physical functions like strength/muscle gains, workout recovery, and increased endurance. They can also help with mental factors like better focus.
Many athletes, weightlifters, and bodybuilders have been interested in BCAAs. That’s due to physical benefits related to muscles, stamina, etc. As usual, some of the studies are mixed about the different benefits of BCAAs. However, there’s no question they team up with other aminos for muscle building/repairing, for example.
The most important BCAA is easily Leucine. It exists in several kinds of proteins and helps with different body functions. That includes nutrient absorption. It’s popular among athletes for different physical benefits that can boost muscles, strength, and endurance.
Leucine is important for the function of several muscles and organs. Besides athletic benefits, some studies show that leucine can also help patients with type-2 diabetes.
Top Branched Amino Acids Benefits
If you have sore muscles after hard workouts it’s quite normal. These are small tears in the muscle tissue that heal during the post-workout recovery. It’s this constant tear/repair process that helps build lean muscle mass.
There are various ways BCAAs can help with muscle soreness. One way is through lowering the blood levels of certain enzymes. This can help to speed up post-workout recovery and protect from muscle damage.
Several studies required people to rate their levels of muscle soreness after doing strength training. The results show that levels of muscle soreness dropped up to one-third among the BCAA group. In some cases, the BCAA group also produced 20% better results during weight-resistant tests up to 48 hours later.
This is one of the main reasons people take protein/amino supplements. Studies show that BCAAs trigger enzymes required for increasing muscle mass. This is especially true when there’s a higher ratio of Leucine to Valine/Isoleucine.
However, the caveat is there’s no evidence that you can get benefits from protein supplements versus other sources. In general, the best sources of nutrients are always real food like meat/fish, eggs, soybeans, quinoa, and dairy.
In addition, some studies show that supplements with complete proteins are better than supplements with single amino acids. So while BCAA supplements might be beneficial for muscle gains it’s not 100% clear.
BCAA supplements might help to lower physical/mental fatigue. Various human studies show that those who took BCAA supplements had a maximum of 15% lower fatigue versus those who took a fake pill.
This can provide benefits like longer workouts before experiencing fatigue. However, there are mixed results about whether BCAAs can help to reduce fatigue and boost endurance. As the old saying goes, “more research is needed.” To learn more about the possible benefits.
Possible BCAAs: Side-Effects
As always, it’s important to know the possible side-effects you could experience when taking BCAA supplements like protein powders and tablets. Studies show that taking amino acid supplements could be safe when you take them orally for up to 2 years.
There are some possible side-effects from these supplements. They include loss of balance and fatigue. If you experience such side-effects after taking the supplements you should inform your doctor immediately.
You should also consult with your doctor before you start taking BCAA supplements. He/She will already have your medical records. However, it’s also critical to inform your doctor of all dietary supplements and prescription drugs you’re taking.
This will help to determine whether or not you might experience “interactions” when the BCAAs combine with other medicines/supplements.
There are various possible side-effects to watch out for including:
- Whitened skin
- Stomach bloating
- High blood pressure
These side-effects can be caused by several other supplements/medicines. So it’s important to look for multiple ones. If you’re experiencing 2+ then there’s a greater chance they’re side-effects from BCAAs.
There are some situations when taking BCAA supplements could cause unwanted side-effects. This includes pregnant/breastfeeding women. There haven’t been many scientific studies done so it’s important to stay on the safe side.
Studies show that BCAA supplements seem to be safe for kids for up to 6 months. However, like other risk groups, it might be better to provide your child with protein/aminos from real food. That includes different kinds of whole foods.
If you’re a heavy drinker you should avoid BCAA supplements. That’s because it’s been linked to brain damage among liver disease patients.
Another possible issue is BCAAs’ effect on pre/post-surgery patients. It might affect blood sugar control. So it’s critical to stop taking BCAAS 2+ weeks before your surgery to maximize branched amino acids benefits