What Foods Are High in Branched Chain Amino Acids

Do you want to boost your BCAAs? If so then you should consider foods high in branched chain amino acids. They include meat, soybeans, and dairy. BCAAs are one-third of the body’s essential amino acids (EAAs).

Foods High In Branched Chain Amino Acids

Do you want to boost your body’s BCAAs? If so, you have several options. For example, in terms of supplements, there are tablets/capsules and protein powders. Another option is foods high in branched-chain amino acids. They include ones like chicken, eggs, beans, and milk. The key amino acid in BCAAs is Leucine. We need nearly 40mg of Leucine daily for good health. This can provide various health benefits including building/repairing muscle and workout recovery. Food is always the best source of nutrients so it should be the foundation of your BCAAs. Health experts suggest it’s unwise to get protein from amino acid supplements like BCAAs.

One thing to keep in mind is all 20 amino acids are needed for the body to function properly. That includes functions like building lean muscle mass. BCAAs are just a part of the formula. You’ll also need the other EAAs and also enough of the non-essential amino acids (NEAAS). If you have enough of all aminos then your body will be able to build and repair muscle tissue. It will simply be impossible if you don’t have enough of one or more amino acids. That will, in turn, affect how well your body functions.

What Exactly Are Branched-Chain Amino Acids?

The human body has 20 main amino acids. This figure includes 9 “essential” aminos. They include three “branched-chain” like Leucine. This refers to the amino acids’ structure since they branch off to one side. Like the other EAAs, these are aminos that people have to get from food and supplements. They include:

  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine
  • Valine

These aminos aren’t just used for food and supplements but also for medicine. The aminos can be taken in different ways including oral supplements and injections

Athletes sometimes take BCAAs for different reasons. They include functions like fighting fatigue, athletic performance, slowing muscle breakdown, and better focus. These are all benefits athletes and weightlifters can benefit from. Some studies have shown BCAAs might help with this goal. However, more research is needed.

These aminos like the others are the building blocks of protein. They can help to build muscle and might even decrease muscle breakdown. They also seem to help with communication between the brain and the body. This can affect sent messages among patients with health conditions like liver disease.

There are various uses of BCAAs including:

1. ALS

Some studies show BCAAs might help people who suffer from this condition also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Some studies show that amino acids might help people with this condition. However, the results are mixed and some studies show it might worsen people’s condition.

2. Mental disorders

BCAA might help to treat people with different mental conditions like mania. This involves consuming a liquid aminos drink. These conditions can be difficult not only for the patient but also for their loved ones and friends.  

3. Liver disease

Sometimes BCAAs are prescribed to boost brain function among liver disease patients. The supplements can provide various benefits for patients including coma reversal. However, it’s unclear if BCAAs can provide this result. More research is needed.

Foods High in Branched Chain Amino Acids

1. Meat

These are some of the best sources of BCAAs. They include both red and white meat. Red meat options include ground beef and pork. While you should generally go with white meat, you can still get health benefits from eating red meat from time to time. It’s a good idea to look for lean cuts since the saturated fat content will be lower.  

Poultry is another good option including chicken and turkey. In general, these are healthier options than red meat. For example, you could go with chicken/turkey breast, which provides excellent sources of protein and aminos.

2. Fatty Fish

This includes options like salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and herring. Such options are high in omega-3 fatty acids. This is a healthy fat that can provide several health benefits including brain/heart health. It’s also good for other body functions like hair and skin.

3. Dairy

This includes options like cheese, yogurt, and milk. It might seem the low-fat varieties are healthier. There’s more healthy fat in full-fat dairy. This option also helps to avoid fillers like salt, which are often added to replace the reduced fat in skim/low-fat dairy products.

4. Eggs

If you want to boost your BCAAs here’s another food to add to your diet. Eggs are healthier than many people think. They’re high in good fat/cholesterol, as well as protein and vitamins/minerals. If you have high cholesterol you could swap out the yolks or consume a 2:1 ratio of whites: yolks.

5. Beans

Soybeans are one of the few plant-based complete proteins. These are foods that have all 9 essential amino acids. That includes BCAAs plus the others that make the protein a complete one. Other beans are incomplete proteins but you can make them complete by simply adding whole grain to them like brown rice, barley, or whole wheat.

How Critical Are BCAAs?

Since these amino acids have been trending in recent years it might seem like they’re the most critical aminos for building lean muscle mass and workout recovery. It’s a little more complicated. On one hand, Leucine, in particular, is one of the most critical aminos for body functions.

BCAAs can provide several benefits. They’re related to muscle building/repair, sore muscles, and even the brain/body connection. However, all 9 EAAs are needed to make complete proteins. Without the other six amino acids, you won’t get the same results as just consuming BCAAs.

You’ll need all of the 20 aminos to build muscle mass. That includes the 11 non-essential ones that the body produces naturally. If you don’t have any of all of these aminos daily, then the BCAAs won’t function properly.

This even questions whether or not BCAA supplements are needed. If you’re getting enough protein from real food, then consuming a shake or smoothie with BCAA protein powder can help you get some extra aminos.

The issue is your reason for consuming BCAA supplements. Most people can simply get enough of all EAAs from food. If you’re a serious athlete, weightlifter, or bodybuilder, then some extra BCAAs can certainly help. However, the focus should always be on real food from the get-go.

If you supplement your real food with BCAA supplements you have various options. They include tablets/capsules and protein powders. Both have pros and cons. You can add protein powders to different foods, but they’re less mobile than tablets, for example. On the other hand, a refreshing BCAA shake is a lot tastier than a glass of water and a capsule.

Another option is something called liquid aminos. They usually contain three-quarters or more of all 20 amino acids, so they’re a good option for foods high in branched-chain amino acids.

Foods High In Branched Chain Amino Acids

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