Jul 12, 2022Health Benefits of BCAAs in Everyday Life
BCAAs are essential amino acids. The three BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
The body uses amino acids to make proteins, which are the building blocks of every cell, tissue, and organ. Amino acids and proteins also play a crucial role in metabolism.
There are 20 amino acids, of which nine are essential. The body cannot make essential amino acids, so a person needs to get them from their diet.
A recent article from Medical News Today discussed some potential health benefits of BCAAs while also describing sources of these amino acids and possible risks.
Below is an excerpt from that Medical News Today article.
Taking BCAA supplements may help reduce exercise fatigue and improve endurance.
In a 2013 study involving 26 college-age males, researchers randomly assigned participants to groups. One group took a BCAA supplement and the other a placebo. The team then asked the participants to cycle to exhaustion.
The researchers found that during the cycling, blood levels of serotonin were lower in the participants who took BCAA. Serotonin is an important brain chemical that also plays a role in exercise fatigue.
According to the authors of a study from 2009Trusted Source, BCAA supplementation can also help improve lean mass and decrease the percentage of body fat.
The study involved 36 strength-trained males who had practiced resistance training for at least 2 years.
The participants underwent an 8-week resistance-training program, and the researchers randomly assigned them to groups. Each received either:
- 14 grams (g) of BCAAs
- 28 g of whey protein
- 28 g of carbohydrates from a sports drink
The researchers found that the participants who took BCAAs had a more significant decrease in body fat and a greater increase in lean mass, compared with the other groups.
BCAAs, particularly leucine, may help maintain muscle mass in people with chronic conditions.
According to a 2012 review, a variety of illnesses can affect protein synthesis, which can lead to a loss of body protein and skeletal muscle mass. The authors found evidence that a high-protein diet that provides additional leucine can help maintain muscle mass in people with chronic diseases such as cancer.
A 2017 systematic review found some evidence that BCAA supplementation can help reduce the muscle damage that occurs during high-intensity exercise. However, the authors caution that the evidence base was limited to one small study and that confirming these findings will require more research.
Results of a small study from 2013 show that adult male participants who took a BCAA supplement during exercise had lower blood levels of substances that indicate muscle damage than those who took a placebo.
The researchers concluded that BCAA supplementation may reduce muscle damage after endurance exercises.