Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) refers to three amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
For people with low dietary protein intake, BCAA supplementation can promote muscle protein synthesis and increase muscle growth over time. Supplementation can also be used to prevent fatigue in novice athletes.
Leucine plays an important role in muscle protein synthesis, while isoleucine induces glucose uptake into cells. Further research is needed to determine valine’s role in a BCAA supplement.
Supplementing BCAAs prevents a serum decline in BCAAs, which occurs during exercise. A serum decline would normally cause a tryptophan influx into the brain, followed by serotonin production, which causes fatigue.
Whether you’re looking to increase protein synthesis or reduce muscle breakdown, BCAA supplements in formats that can be used pre, intra and post-workout, or even to consume throughout the day to prevent muscle loss or catabolism.
Additionally, since BCAAs bypass the liver and gut and go directly into your blood stream, they can be used as an immediate energy source during your workouts. Valine and isoleucine are considered glucogenic amino acids, meaning they can be converted to glucose and serve as an important energy source during exercise to help fight off fatigue during your workouts.
BCAAs are important to ingest on a daily basis, but many protein sources, such as meat and eggs, already provide BCAAs. Supplementation is unnecessary for people with a sufficiently high protein intake (1-1.5g per kg of bodyweight a day or more).
BCAAs can help promote muscle growth and repair and reduce muscle soreness after exercise.