BCAAs are short for “branched chain amino acids.” Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Though there are about 20 essential amino acids that make up the structure of the body, there are three that help you maintain muscle. These are leucine, isoleucine and valine, otherwise, known as the BCAAs.
Though most amino acids are manufactured by our body, BCAAs are not. They can only be gathered from our diet, or through supplementation. For this reason, it’s advantageous for us to discuss the 9 proven benefits for drinking supplements with BCAAs.
#1 Decrease Muscle Soreness
Is muscle soreness getting in your way of enjoying a thorough workout? Drinking supplements with BCAA can be helpful in decreasing muscle pain after a hard workout. It’s not abnormal to feel muscle discomfort a day or two after a workout, particularly if you’re practicing a new type of exercise routine. This is known as delayed onset muscle soreness. It’s believed that it’s caused by tiny tears that develop in the muscle after exercise.
BCAAs have been proven to reduce such muscle damage, which, in turn, helps decrease the time and harshness of muscle soreness. BCAAs decrease the breakdown of protein during your workout and decrease levels of creatine kinase, which indicates damage to your muscles. The result of drinking BCAA supplements is that you are likely to be able to train more frequently at a higher intensity, resulting in the ability to reach your goals much sooner.
#2 Increase Muscle Mass
Are you looking to bulk up your body a little? One of the most common uses that people supplement BCAAs is to increase their muscle mass. The BCAA leucine is responsible for activating a certain avenue in the body that encourages the process of making muscle tissue. In one particular study, participants who drank 5.6 grams of BCAAs, following a resistance workout, had a 22% larger increase in muscle growth compared to those who drank a placebo.
#3 Reduces Fatigue From Exercise
Everyone grows tired when they exercise at some point. It’s just a matter of when. It honestly depends on your personal fitness level, the intensity and length of the workout, and your nutrition. As you exercise, your BCAA levels naturally decrease. When this happens, your levels of tryptophan increase. The tryptophan is then naturally converted to serotonin, which contributes to developing fatigue during exercise. Supplementing with BCAAs has shown to combat this fatigue.
#4 Lowers Blood Sugar Levels
BCAAs are also useful in maintaining normal blood sugar levels. Leucine and isoleucine are believed to boost insulin secretion and incite your muscles to absorb more sugar from your bloodstream. The result is that your blood sugar levels drop.
#5 Enhance Weight Loss
If you’re looking to lose weight, drinking supplements with BCAAs will get you started on the right track. Studies have shown that people who consume around 15 grams of BCAAs each day may have up to 30% lower risk of becoming overweight or obese than people who consume around 12 grams per day on average.
#6 Fortify The Immune System
The body utilizes its glutamine stores to keep the immune system in tip-top shape. It has been shown that when we exercise, our glutamine stores can decrease by up to 50%. In turn, this can have a negative effect on the immune system. The great thing about BCAAs is that they help maintain glutamine levels, thereby fortifying the immune system.
Aside from the maintenance of glutamine supply, there’s still a definite requirement for BCAAs by the immune system. This is because immune cells oxidize BCAAs as fuel, primarily for protein synthesis. BCAA levels are dependent on the creation of new cells like immunoglobulins, and cytokines by the body.
#7 Promote Lean Muscle Mass
When we try to lose body fat, we inevitably lose muscle mass as well. This happens because, as we lose weight quickly, our bodies try to hold onto our fat stores instead. In order to maintain our valuable muscle mass, we need to be proactive about it. To do this successfully, we need to supplement our BCAAs. Supplementing BCAAs will reduce the body’s catabolism rate, which is essentially when the body breaks down muscle tissue to use it for energy.
#8 Prevents Muscle Atrophy
Muscle atrophy happens when muscles waste away. Very commonly found with the infirmed or the elderly, it is usually caused by a lack of physical activity. Muscle wasting happens when a disease or injury makes it hard or impossible for a limb to be moved. It’s when muscle proteins are broken down more quickly than they are synthesized.
Drinking supplements with BCAAs will help prevent muscle wasting. This is of particular benefit for those who have been bedridden from chronic infections, or are suffering from cancer.
#9 Maintain Hormonal Balance
BCAAs are helpful in much more than just losing fat and gaining muscle. One of their many benefits is that they help balance your hormones during and after an intense workout. The stress hormone, cortisol, helps control blood sugar levels, balances your metabolism, cuts down on inflammation, and helps your mind stay clear and focused.
However, on the flip side, too much cortisol can lead to rapid weight gain, depression, and anxiety. During exercise, both in men and women, levels of testosterone and cortisol can change tremendously, leaving our hormones out of whack. Supplementing BCAAs are the answer to bringing these hormones back into a healthy range.
Even though BCAAs may be essential to your health, they cannot be manufactured by the body. This means you have to make sure to eat enough foods that contain them. The best way to ensure that you’re getting the right amount is to drink supplements with BCAA.
Whether you’re looking to increase your muscle mass, lose a bit of weight, or just hang on to the lean muscles that you have, BCAAs will help you achieve just that. The building blocks of leucine, isoleucine, and valine are the trio that will help bring your body into balance and assist you in accomplishing your fitness goals.