What Are BCAA’s?

  Personal trainers receive questions on supplements all the time. Supplements aren’t for everyone. If you are looking to take supplements such as protein, creatine, or BCAAs, one must look at your diet. Supplements are just what they sound like; they are to supplement your diet. For example, if you don’t have access to meat or you are vegetarian, a protein supplement might be a very smart move. Personally, I think my knowledge of supplements is decent but I received a question the other day about BCAAs and was stumped. I decided to research them a little more and share the results.

            BCAAs or branch chained amino acids are 3 amino acids that help promote muscle growth, leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These three amino acids help promote muscle protein synthesis and increase muscle growth over time. Leucine plays an important role in muscle protein synthesis, while isoleucine induces glucose uptake into cells. This means that muscles get their fuel (glucose) quicker and are more efficient when recovering. Further research must be done as valine’s benefits are not clearly defined. Other studies have shown that it decreases fatigue while exercising. This is one of the most common reasons why people take a BCAA supplement. This is why I describe them Gatorade for your muscles.

            As I stated earlier, supplements aren’t for everyone. Often times, the nutrients we are looking for in our supplements, are in the foods we eat. Proteins are made up of amino acids therefore BCAAs are in a lot of the meats and proteins we eat.

Some of the other benefits of taking BCAAs are as follows:               

·         Increased Muscle Growth

·         Decreased Muscle Soreness

·         Reduce Exercise Fatigue

·         Prevents Muscle Wasting

·         Can benefit those with liver disease

          In conclusion, taking a BCAA supplement is totally up to the individual. The benefits far outweigh the negatives. Looking at your diet and determining if you are getting enough protein from your diet may determine whether you should take them or not. Of course, if you do decide to take BCAAs, do your research and choose a supplement with good ingredients. Of course using a supplement is not going to be the same as eating a more complete diet. Supplements are not FDA approved so do your research and choose the supplement that will best fuel your performance.

-Sean Willitts


Sources: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-bcaa#section5