What are BCAAs?

What are BCAAs?

BCAA stands for Branched Chain Amino Acids because of their chemical structure or formula. Each amino acid (as the name shows) has an amino group (NH2) and an acid group (COOH), and rest in between is a chain of groups like ––CH2 defines the name and function of the particular amino acid. Of all the amino acids (there are 22 in total), only 3 are called Branched Chain Amino Acids, namely Valine, Leucine and Isoleucine. These three amino acids have a branched chain rather than a linear chain thus the name.

Benefits of BCAA

Exercise leads to a depletion of liver glycogen and muscle glucose levels decrease. BCAAs are the only amino acids that are metabolized in muscle and go direct to circulation. The rest of the amino acids are metabolized in liver. BCAAs delay central fatigue and maintain glucose levels in muscle. They also delay exercise induced muscle damage and tissue breakdown. BCAAs let the athletes train harder because of their protein sparing effect.

For whom is it beneficial to take and why?

BCAA supplementation is beneficial in relation to sports and exercise. The requirement of BCAAs is increased after exercise due to muscle degradation. Thus, athletes or even people exercising regularly would benefit from BCAA supplements. BCAA supplementation, before and after exercise promotes muscle protein synthesis and decreases exercise related muscle damage.

However, the results for endurance performance with BCAA are inconsistent and are more for sprinting or weight training.

Toxicity of BCAAs

Numerous toxicity studies have been performed in rats and mice, however no toxicity has been reported with BCAA supplementation. There have been no reports on BCAA related toxicity in sports and exercise.

Who should NOT take it and why?

Pregnant and lactating women
Anyone who is on medication for illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, Parkinson’s and so on
Children under the age of 16yrs

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