Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) are a powerhouse trio of amino acids that can work wonders for your health.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Every cell in the body contains protein, and they require a constant supply of amino acids to function. Of the twenty amino acids the body uses, nine are called “essential.” Essential amino acids are those your body cannot make. You have to get them from your diet.
Leucine, isoleucine, and valine are three essential amino acids and the only ones with branched chains. The term branched chain refers to the amino acids’ unique structure, which is key to how they function.
The best BCAA can be found in high protein foods such as meat, eggs, milk, beans, and soy products. However, some people may benefit from a BCAA supplement to help them meet their health or weight loss goals.
Here are 5 of the top benefits of BCAAs and why you may want to consider using a supplement to boost your intake.
Best BCAA benefits
Boost Fat Loss
Studies have shown that individuals with higher intakes of BCAAs are less likely to be overweight or obese. In addition, supplementing with BCAAs shows promise as a fat loss booster.
BCAAs influence many metabolic processes in the body. Consuming adequate BCAAs promotes a healthy balance between muscle growth and adipose tissue. One study examined the effect of BCAA supplementation on weight loss and lean muscle preservation in people trying to lose weight. They found that participants taking the supplement preserved more muscle mass and improved body composition compared to those taking a placebo.
Build Lean Muscle
Muscles aren’t just for bodybuilders! Lean muscle mass is important for healthy body composition. Plus, muscle burns lots of calories, so the more you have, the easier it is to maintain a healthy weight.
Every day, your body breaks down some proteins and builds new ones. The balance between the amount of protein broken down and the amount of new protein built is called protein turnover.
A healthy body is generally in a neutral state of protein turnover, meaning you make as much as you break down. You have to make more proteins to gain muscle, specifically muscle protein. Conversely, if you break down more protein than you make, the body draws amino acids from its biggest protein reserve; your muscles. This results in loss of muscle mass.
To avoid the body breaking down muscles to get the amino acids it needs, you have to eat enough high-quality protein that provides essential amino acids.
One of the best BCAA benefits is their ability to promote muscle synthesis. Leucine, in particular, plays a critical role in building muscle mass. Studies show consuming a source of BCAAs after exercise may help increase the amount of muscle you build.
One of the best BCAA benefits includes appetite control. Most of us know it’s hard to eat well if your appetite feels overwhelming. If you’re working to lose or maintain weight, finding natural ways to manage hunger is important for long-term success.
Your appetite is determined in part by several hormones that stimulate feelings of hunger in the brain. Two of these, cholecystokinin and leptin, are linked to BCAA intake. High levels of BCAAs boost levels of both hormones, decreasing hunger sensations. This is one of the normal mechanisms by which your body senses fullness after eating, especially if you consume high-protein foods.
Eating a high protein diet is one key way to boost BCAA levels and decrease your appetite. If your appetite often feels out of control, supplementing with a BCAA drink like our tropical fruit-flavored BCAA powder may help.
Improve Exercise Recovery
Exercise stimulates the body to become stronger and more efficient. This is definitely a good thing!
However, the process by which this happens involves a certain amount of strain on the body. When you exert muscles and tissues through exercise, the stress stimulates them to become stronger. But, the thing about stress—mental or physical—is that you need time to recover from it.
Stressed muscles need time to adapt and repair. You know first-hand what that means if you’ve ever experienced muscle soreness the day after a workout.
BCAAs can help that process along. Supplementing with the best BCAAs may prevent muscle damage and speed muscle recovery. You’ll feel less sore and more energetic after a workout. And in the long term, you’ll see better results.
Your immune system cells are made up of proteins and, therefore, rely on a steady supply of amino acids. BCAAs, in particular, are critical to immune cell function.
When a person is ill, their need for BCAAs may increase as the body works to create more immune cells to battle infection. Supplementing ill people with BCAAs has even been shown to improve immune response.
For some people, boosting BCAA intake may be protective for their immune system. And most of us could likely benefit from some extra BCAAs when we are ill.
Finding The Best BCAA
You can find BCAAs in most protein-containing foods, and there’s a good chance you already eat some in your daily diet. Depending on your health goals, a BCAA supplement may also be beneficial.
We often recommend our ShiftSetGo BCAA supplement to our clients working toward weight loss, weight maintenance, or overall health-improvement goals. And the best part is it’s an all-natural way to support health.
Amino acids are the building blocks of every cell, tissue, and function in your body. What better way to optimize your health than by supplying your cells with the best BCAAs.