Do BCCA’s Make a Difference?

BCAA Benefits: A Review of Branched-Chain Amino Acids

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are a group of three essential amino acids: leucine, Iso-leucine and Valine.

BCAA supplements are commonly taken in order to boost muscle growth and enhance exercise performance.

They may also help with weight loss and reduce fatigue after exercise.

This article contains all the most important information about branched-chain amino acids and their benefits.

What Are BCAAs?

BCAAs consist of three essential amino acids:

  • Leucine
  • Is-oleucine
  • Valine

These amino acids are grouped together because they are the only three amino acid to have a chain that branches off to one side.

BCAAs are considered essential because, unlike non-essential amino acids, your body cannot make them. Therefore, it is essential to get them from your diet.

BOTTOM LINE: The three BCAAs are leucine, isoleucine and valine. All have a branched molecular structure and are considered essential to the human body.

BCAAs May Reduce Fatigue During Exercise

BCAAs may help reduce complications linked to liver failure. One possible complication is hepatic encephalopathy (HE), which can lead to confusion, loss of consciousness and coma.

A recent review suggests that in patients with liver disease, BCAA supplements may be more beneficial than other supplements at reducing the severity of HE.

However, BCAAs did not improve overall survival rate, nor did they lower the risk of other complications, such infections and gastric bleeding.

Another recent review of studies in patients undergoing liver surgery reported that BCAA-enriched solutions may help improve liver function, reduce the risk of complications and decrease the duration of hospital stay.

BCAA supplements may also be effective at reducing fatigue and improving weakness, sleep quality and muscle cramps in individuals with liver disease.

In cases of liver cancer, taking BCAA supplements may help reduce water retention and decrease the risk of premature death by up to 7%.

Dosage Instructions

If you’d like to start supplementing with branched-chain amino acids, how much you should take will depend on your individual needs and goals.

A World Health Organization report from 1985 states that the average adult should consume a minimum of 15 mg of BCAAs per pound (34 mg/kg) of body weight each day.

However, according to more recent research, the daily requirements may actually be as high as 65 mg/lb (144 mg/kg) of body weight per day.

Based on these newer studies, healthy adults should aim to consume:

  • Women: A minimum of 9 grams of BCAAs per day
  • Men: A minimum of 12 grams of BCAAs per day

People who include sufficient protein-rich foods in their diets most likely do not need to take supplements.

However, daily requirements may be slightly higher for athletes and people doing heavy resistance training. In these cases, supplements may be beneficial.

Most of the studies observing the benefits in trained individuals used supplement doses ranging from 10–20 grams of BCAAs per day.

The best time to take BCAA supplements is before and/or after your workout. Many people who are trying to gain muscle also take them in the morning and before bed.

However, whether the exact timing makes a big difference for this has not been studied properly.

Top Food Sources

Luckily, there’s a large variety of foods that contain BCAAs. Those with the highest amounts include :

  • Meat, poultry and fish: 3–4.5 grams per 3 oz (84 grams)
  • Beans and lentils: 2.5–3 grams per cup
  • Milk: 2 grams per cup (237 ml)
  • Tofu and tempeh: 0.9 to 2.3 grams per 3 oz (84 grams)
  • Cheese: 1.4 grams per 1 oz (28 grams)
  • Eggs: 1.3 grams per large egg
  • Pumpkin seeds: About 1 gram per 1 oz (28 grams)
  • Quinoa: 1 gram per cup.
  • Nuts: 0.7–1 gram per 1 oz (28 grams), depending on the variety.

Branched-chain amino acid supplements may provide impressive benefits in certain circumstances, especially when it comes to muscle growth and physical performance.

However, BCAAs can also be found in whole protein supplements as well as in a large variety of protein-rich foods.

Therefore, taking BCAA supplements may not be necessary, especially if you get sufficient amounts through your diet or a protein supplement.

For any more information or query regarding the above article please feel free to revert.

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