What are BCAAs?

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. There are 20 different amino acids that compose thousands of different proteins. Among those 20 amino acids, nine of them are considered as essential amino acids, which means they cannot be produced by the human body.

These amino acids are obtained from food sources or supplements. Out of these nine essential amino acids, three are branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) namely leucine, isoleucine and valine.

BCAAs are different from other amino acids as they are directly delivered to the bloodstream through the liver. Usually, all the other amino acids degrade and break down in the liver successfully except for BCAAs.

The liver does not directly metabolize BCAAs. Basically, larger amounts of BCAAs are oxidized by muscle tissue and some by adipose tissue. Great amount of oxidation occurs in muscle tissue.

Leucine supports the healing of bones and skin. It also helps in muscle growth, greater level of growth hormones and increased lean body mass. It helps in weight reduction and it can also decrease or control blood sugar level.

The BCAA, leucine, activates a certain pathway in the body that energizes muscle protein synthesis during the muscle making process. It helps in maintaining energy levels by improving the stability of glucose level for a longer duration of time.

Isoleucine and leucine are quite similar; they control blood sugar levels and speed up the re-growth of muscles and tissues in the body. Isoleucine also helps in the formation of hemoglobin, which is a pigment that carries oxygen in red blood cells.

According to numerous studies, valine assists with the actual functioning of the nervous system and the brain. Valine also avoids muscle failure and ensures proper regulation of the nervous system. Another use of valine is that it suppresses appetite.

Benefits of BCAA

As branched chain amino acids play an important role in encouraging lean muscle mass and optimizing recovery, people are moving towards BCAAs supplements to boost weight loss, build muscle, decrease muscle soreness and maintain muscle recovery. BCAAs suppress protein breakdown and help in boosting energy during exercise.

BCAAs have a positive effect on muscles. During muscle protein synthesis, the body builds up muscle mass when it goes through resistance training. Supplementing with BCAAs will help to turn on muscle formation engines.

BCAAs are used as an energy source during exercise and help in suppressing lactic acid production for better stamina. They are also considered essential for muscle maintenance. They are found in food that is rich in protein such as, egg, meat, fish and dairy products.

The supplements usually supply leucine twice as much as isoleucine and valine. BCAAs are directly consumed by muscles rather than being metabolized by the liver. They have a rapid effect.

During a tough workout, a large amount of lactic acid is produced that lowers the energy levels due to which a person feels lethargic. Body requires more energy during exercise; these requirements can be fulfilled by BCAAs supplements. BCAAs also help in decreasing muscle soreness after a workout. Soreness is referred to as the slight tear in the muscle after exercise.

This soreness is known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which happens for 12 to 24 hours after a workout and lasts up to 72 hours. It usually happens when the exercise routine is new.

BCAAs supplements consumption before exercise leads to less DOMS. These supplements are necessary for the human body as BCAAs help in reducing muscle soreness and exercise induced fatigue.

In order to maintain top performance, athletes are required to maintain energy levels and put a stop to fatigue during their training sessions. Fatigue is a temporary reduction in physical training.

Exercise leads to fatigue and exhaustion, people feel lethargic sometimes after an intense workout. This is due to different factors including workout intensity, duration of workout, physical conditions, environmental conditions, nutrition and fitness level.

During exercise, BCAAs are used by muscles and it causes reduction in blood levels. When blood levels reduce, it increases the level of essential amino acid ‘tryptophan’ in our brain. Tryptophan is then converted into serotonin.

Serotonin energizes mood and reduces fatigue. It helps in maintaining high intensity workouts for a longer duration of time. This leads to greater muscle recovery and muscle gain.

When is the Best Time to Take BCAAs?

BCAAs can be consumed as a pre-workout supplement to overcome fatigue and to boost your entire performance. It is important to take branched chain amino acids daily as they provide all the important nutrients that are required for muscle growth.

BCAAs are easily digested and are instantly taken into bloodstreams and muscles. They can be consumed before or during workouts and they help in hydrating the person during their workouts.

bcaa enriched food

Foods That Are High in BCAAs

BCAAs can be obtained from food sources and supplements. Obtaining BCAAs from a complete protein source is highly beneficial for the human body as they contain all the important amino acids.

Protein rich foods contain a high amount of BCAAs. This fulfills all the requirements of basic nutrients that a human body requires. Protein rich foods such as milk, meat and eggs provide a greater amount of branched chain amino acids.

It is necessary to consume protein rich foods on a daily basis as the human body cannot produce essential amino acids itself. To fulfill the requirements of essential amino acids, every individual should consume proper nutrients.

Muscular growth is important for body functioning as muscles cover the bones and provide protection. During physical activities due to the large protection of lactic acid, people feel lethargic and proper nutrients are also required in order to overcome fatigue. 

As BCAAs are essential amino acids that cannot be produced by the body, protein rich foods or supplements are required to facilitate exercise performance, to increase muscle growth, to decrease muscle soreness and to reduce exercise fatigue.

The best food source for BCAAs:


Service Size


Beef, round

3.5 ounces (100 grams)

6.8 grams

Chicken breast

3.5 ounces (100 grams)

5.88 grams

Soy protein powder

1 scoop

5.5 grams


3.5 ounces (100 grams)

4.9 grams


2 eggs

3.28 grams

Greek yogurt

1/2 cup (140 grams)

2 grams

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