3 weeks ago
"BCAAs" stands for branched-chain amino acids. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Background: Amino acids are the substances that link together to make up proteins. When you consume a source of protein, your body breaks it down into amino acids. When tissues, like muscles, need to grow or be repaired, your body takes those amino acids and rebuilds them into the specific proteins needed.⠀⠀
There are 20 amino acids that humans eat in their diet, three of which have a branched chain in their structure: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
These three amino acids, collectively referred to as BCAAs, are often taken as a workout supplement. This is because these 3 amino acids are metabolized directly by skeletal muscles, not by the liver like other amino acids. The BCAAs are like other amino acids in that they help rebuild the muscle proteins to be bigger/stronger after a workout (hypertrophy), but unlike other amino acids, BCAAs also help with replenishing muscular energy stores when they are depleted during a workout (like carbohydrates).
BCAAs are found in complete proteins, like whey, but they are absorbed much faster if they are consumed by themselves. A word of caution: BCAA supplements can be very expensive for consumers.
Consumption of BCAAs is associated with increased muscle protein synthesis in some research studies, but not all. In particular, research is indicating that leucine is the amino acid whose consumption is most closely tied with increased muscle protein synthesis. Thus, it might be beneficial to consume a supplement that includes leucine around a workout, but remember: leucine is also found in real food and compete proteins like whey.
If you are consuming adequate amounts of protein, you are most likely consuming adequate amounts of BCAAs, which means a supplement may not provide any added benefit. BCAAs are found in regular protein-containing food, such as poultry, dairy, eggs, fish, quinoa, cottage cheese, peanuts, lentils, whole grains, etc. Just like a BCAA supplement, these foods can be eaten pre- or post-workout to provide your muscles with BCAAs for muscle repair and energy.
Second photo from purefoodcompany