Before we begin, let’s recap on what are amino acids. Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein. It is the smallest and most basic compound found in all living things and thus it can also be found in the food we consume. Amino Acids are used to build many different essential molecules to allow the body to function properly.
There is a total of 20 amino acids which can either be found in the food we consume or even made by our own bodies. We categorised them as essential aminos acids and non-essential amino acids. Out of the 20 amino acids, 11 of them are non-essential amino acids. These aminos include alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine. This would mean that they are readily available and it is made naturally from our body. The other 9 amino acids are essential aminos acids (histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine). It cannot be synthesised in our bodies and thus we need to consume it through foods. Click here to find out what happens if you consume Essential Amino Acids (EAA).
Back to the main topic of this article, BCAA. BCAA or Branched-Chain Amino Acids are a mixture of three amino acids namely, leucine, isoleucine and valine. These three ingredients together aids in:
- Muscle Growth - When working out, muscles are put through stress and are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. When muscles are breaking down, it extracts amino acids out of the muscle protein to use them for energy. Replenishing BCAAs in the body would aid the process of synthesising proteins back into the muscle which results to bigger and stronger muscles.
- Recovery - After a killer workout, many would face muscle soreness. Studies have shown that BCAAs, particularly leucine, are most important in igniting repair. A study in 2017 showed participants saw a 22% increase in muscle protein synthesis (faster and stronger recovery) when they consumed 5g of BCAA.
- Muscle Breakdown prevention - muscle break down occurs when protein breakdown exceeds muscle protein synthesis. With sufficient BCAA in the body, muscle protein synthesis will increase and thus slow down or halt muscle breakdowns.
- Boost Performance - BCAAs are effectively used as an energy source for muscles during exercise. Reducing the use of sugar (carbohydrates) also reduces the production of lactic acid and helps maintain athletic performance.
- Aids in weight loss - helps curb hunger for those on a calorie restricted diet.