My trainer recently advised me to start taking the supplement BCAA, Branched-Chain Amino Acids. I asked why this was necessary on top of all the other grueling stuff and he said it would help with muscle recovery and reduce soreness. I then asked “Well what is it??” All he said was that it is protein and it would be helpful, particularly on a vegetarian diet . In other words, trust me and just do it. Without any further questioning I went to my local GNC and got it in pill form. The daily consumption is 6 gigantic pills a day! With such a commitment I needed to learn a bit more about this supplement to my daily routine.
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and are needed to build the various proteins used in the growth, repair, and maintenance of body tissues. Eleven of the twenty amino acids can be made by the body itself, while the other nine (called essential amino acids) must come from the diet or supplements. The nine essential amino acids are isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Another amino acid, histidine, is considered semi-essential because the body does not always require dietary sources of it. The nonessential amino acids are arginine, alanine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine, glutamic acid, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine. Foods of animal origin such as meat and poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products, are the richest dietary sources of the essential amino acids.
Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine are the three essential amino acids in BCAA which play an important role in protein synthesis. These three amino acids are considered essential because the human body does not produce any of them and human beings cannot survive unless these amino acids are present in the diet. In fact, BPAAs make up about 35% of all muscle tissue. Amino acids from food travel first to the liver, where they’re broken down for use as fuel or assigned to muscle repair. BCAAs bypass the liver and go directly to the muscles for fueling, building and repairing.
There is inconsistent evidence about the effectiveness of branched-chain amino acids for athletic performance. Many studies suggest that taking branched-chain amino acids does not enhance exercise or athletic performance. However, other research suggests that it might reduce tiredness and muscle soreness associated with exercising.
My conclusion is that taking BCAA supplements are a good addition to my routine, which includes a healthy diet and exercise. My goal of gaining more muscle can be achieved with the protein in my diet, additional protein with BCAAs and resistance training. However, I will let make my doctor aware of the supplements suggested to get her feedback.
Feed the wellness in you!