The benefits of BCAAs as essential amino acids are numerous, ranging from increasing muscle mass to preventing complications of liver disease. To find out more about the benefits of BCAAs and their sources, check out this article.
Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are a type of essential amino acid consisting of leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAAs are needed by the body in the process of forming muscle protein and producing energy.
Although the body cannot produce itself, BCAAs are found in many sources of animal protein, such as beef, chicken, fish, eggs, cheese, milk, tofu, and tempeh. In addition, BCAAs are also available in powdered supplement form, such as whey protein powder.
Benefits of BCAAs for the Body
Here are the various benefits of BCAAs for the body that can be obtained by consuming them regularly:
- Increase muscle mass
One of the most well-known benefits of BCAAs is that it can increase muscle growth. Leucine in BCAA is known to activate enzymes that function to stimulate the formation of muscle mass.
For maximum results, you also need to do sports that focus on training your muscles, such as lifting weights.
- Reduce muscle pain
Muscle soreness after exercise is common, especially if you’re trying a new type of exercise or have just started exercising again after a long time. Usually, this pain usually appears within 12–24 hours and can last up to 3 days.
Several studies have shown that taking BCAAs through food or supplements before exercise has been shown to help reduce muscle soreness after exercise and prevent damage to the muscles being trained.
- Reduce fatigue during exercise
In addition to helping reduce muscle soreness, BCAAs can also help reduce physical and mental fatigue during exercise, especially for people who rarely do it. This amino acid works by reducing the production of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that signals fatigue, during exercise.
- Prevent muscle atrophy
The next benefit of BCAAs is to help prevent muscle atrophy or muscle mass wasting. This usually occurs due to nutritional deficiencies in certain diseases, such as cancer or chronic infections, as well as due to aging.
Muscle is made up of protein, which is made up of a wide variety of amino acids. In humans, 35% of the amino acids present in muscle are BCAAs. So, consumption of BCAAs can play a major role in preventing or at least slowing down the loss of muscle mass.
- Reduce the risk of complications due to liver disease
The benefits of BCAAs in reducing the risk of complications in cirrhosis, a liver disease with complications that are often fatal, have been proven by many studies.
Eating foods rich in BCAAs or BCAA supplements has been shown to improve health and reduce the risk of encephalopathy in people with cirrhosis. Not only that, taking BCAA supplements in the long term is also thought to protect people with cirrhosis from complications of liver cancer.
By looking at the benefits of BCAAs above, it’s a shame to skip this amino acid in your nutritional intake. BCAA needs that need to be consumed by each person can vary, depending on the purpose of consumption.
The average adult needs to get a minimum of 9-12 grams of BCAA intake per day. This is roughly the equivalent of 100 grams of beef plus 100 grams of chicken breast.
Meanwhile, for people who want to build muscle, the BCAA needed is around 10-20 grams per day. Apart from food, BCAA intake to build muscle can also be obtained from supplements.
Although generally safe for consumption, BCAAs are not recommended for people with ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. People who suffer from maple syrup urine disease should also limit their intake of BCAAs because their bodies cannot break down protein properly.
If you want to add BCAAs to your daily diet, you should first consult your doctor to find out what types of foods are recommended and the dosage, according to your needs and health conditions.