What Are BCAAs (Branched-Chain Amino Acids)?
Branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) is a blanket term for three essential amino acids l-leucine, l-isoleucine, and l-valine. Human beings can’t survive without these amino acids. However, the body can’t synthesize them and relies on dietary sources. They are proteinogenic and the most anabolic of the nine essential amino acids, meaning they facilitate protein synthesis and muscle building. The branched-chain part of BCAAs refers to the chemical structure of these compounds, as they all include a side chain consisting of a carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms. BCAA make up 35% of the essential amino acid in body proteins and 40% of the total human need for amino acids. BCAAs exist in high concentrations in muscles as well, accounting for 14-18% of bodily BCAAs.
Dairy products and red meat contain the highest levels of BCAAs. Whey protein and egg protein supplements are other sources of BCAAs. Isoleucine is found in many types of meat, fish, and cheeses. Leucine is found primarily in high-quality protein foods such as beans, brewer's yeast, brown rice bran, caseinate, and corn. Food sources of valine include soy flour, cottage cheese, fish, grains, mushrooms and peanuts, meats, and vegetables.
What Do BCAAs Do?
BCAAs serve several metabolic and physiologic purposes in the body, including glucose metabolism, fatty acid oxidation, and modulating the immune system. Each ingredient performs specific functions as well. For example, leucine is necessary for wound recovery to skin and bones and helps protect muscles, valine helps promote or maintain nitrogen balance (essential for muscular development), and isoleucine helps boost energy and is necessary for forming hemoglobin.
Leucine is necessary for optimal growth in infants and children and the maintenance of nitrogen balance in adults. It also helps produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for energy and regenerates tissues. Valine promotes fatty acid uptake into muscle while reducing lipids. The body uses Isoleucine to produce biochemical compounds that help in energy production and expedite muscle healing. BCAAs are metabolized directly in the muscle and are anti-catabolic, meaning they inhibit the breakdown of muscle tissue.
Potential BCAA Benefits
Best Amino Acids for Muscle Growth
Bodybuilders and athletes take BCAAs for their protein synthesis and muscle-building properties. BCAAs also get to work quickly, as the body metabolizes BCAAs directly in muscle tissues rather than in the liver. They activate the enzymes responsible for muscle growth, and multiple studies noted that BCAA supplements effectively increased muscle mass. They also help prevent muscle protein breakdown during exercise and inhibit oxidative stress in muscle tissues.
BCAAs and Fat Loss
BCAAs may contribute to fat loss as well. One study monitored two groups of weightlifters. One group took BCAA supplements, while the other took whey protein powder. At the end of eight weeks, the BCAA group lost 1% more body fat and gained 4.4 pounds more muscle. Another study focused on professional wrestlers noted that the athletes taking BCAA protein supplements lost 3.5 more pounds and 0.6% more body fat than the individuals taking soy protein powder.
BCAAs for Exercise Fatigue
BCAAs reduce exercise fatigue by reducing serotonin production, allowing individuals to work out for longer. One study noted participants taking BCAAs increased their time to exhaustion during exercise. Another study supported this finding, noting that participants taking BCAAs increased their exercise time by 17% compared to individuals taking a placebo. Additional research noted that participants experienced a 15% decrease in exercise fatigue while taking BCAAs compared to the placebo group.
BCAAs + Energy
BCAA supplements may improve energy levels during exercise. The body uses glycogen (glucose) for energy during workouts. Glucose is the body’s main energy source, and optimal exercise is impossible without it. BCAAs act as an additional energy source during intense exercise.
BCAAs for Muscle Soreness
BCAA supplements may reduce muscle soreness after workouts and speed up recovery times. They protect and help muscles recover by reducing levels of damaging enzymes. Numerous studies recorded significant decreases in participants’ muscle soreness following exercise (33%) when taking BCAA supplements compared to individuals given a placebo. Other studies had participants perform strength-training exercises, then repeat the test 24-48 hours later. Participants taking BCAAs experienced a 20% increase in strength performance.
Potential BCAA Side Effects
Most individuals can take BCAA supplements without experiencing side effects. Some individuals may experience headaches, bloating, or nausea. BCAA supplements may interact with certain medications, including those for diabetes, Parkinson’s, thyroid conditions, and corticosteroids. Individuals with maple syrup urine disease (MSUD) should not take BCAAs, as they can’t break them down. Individuals with chronic illnesses or taking any medications should consult a physician before starting a new supplement regimen.
What Does Instantized Mean?
BCAA’s are not inherently soluble in liquid and are difficult to dissolve. Coating them with another material, such as soy or sunflower lecithin, improves their solubility. PureBulk instantizes this BCAA supplement powder with sunflower lecithin.
How Do BCAA Supplements Taste and How Should I Take It?
BCAA supplements have a bitter taste. Many individuals prefer to make a BCAA preworkout shake by mixing it with a whey protein supplement. They are most effective when taken 30-45 minutes before a workout or post-workout. Taking BCAA supplements with food can help combat feelings of nausea that may accompany larger serving sizes.
Purity and Concentration of Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA) Instantized
PureBulk’s BCAA supplement powder is a 2:1:1 blend of l-leucine, l-isoleucine, and l-valine respectively. PureBulk’s BCAA Instantized Powder does not contain any fillers, additives, or anti-caking agents, and it is manufactured in a cGMP certified and registered facility. Accredited third-party laboratories in the USA test PureBulk supplements to ensure their identity, purity, and potency. To receive a copy of these results or the results for any other PureBulk supplement, fill out the COA request form found here. Please use the comment box provided for any additional document requests.
How Should I Store It?
Store BCAA Instantized Powder in a cool, dry area protected from light. Reseal after each use.
References & Further Research
Tested by Accredited 3rd Party Labs
PureBulk's supplements are tested by accredited third party labs in the USA to ensure their identity, purity
and potency. To receive a copy of these test results or any other PureBulk supplement please fill out the COA request form found here.