Health Benefits Of Branched-Chain Amino Acids And Where They Can Be Found

February 22, 2024

Sometimes, individuals are told they need to increase the amount of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) in their diet. Whether this is due to receiving some of the extraordinary health benefits they can provide or because the individuals is an athlete who needs a little help developing some muscle mass, branched-chain amino acids can essentially benefit anyone. They are made from three primary essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They are considered essential because the body does not produce them itself. As such, individuals need to acquire them through their diet or with a supplement. Branched-chain amino acids have shown to have incredible health benefits on varying parts of the body. Get to know some of these benefits now.

Beneficial To Various Liver Diseases

Liver disease is one of the most dangerous conditions individuals can develop, as the liver is responsible for filtering out many unpleasant pollutants in the body as well as helping the digestive system. If something damages or weakens the liver, it affects the entire body and the consequences could rapidly become lethal. The fact that branched-chain amino acids are beneficial to various liver diseases only indicates how important they are and why they should be consumed regularly. One of the most severe liver diseases is hepatic encephalopathy. Some of the complications that arise from the disease are confusion, passing out, and even slipping into a coma. The use of BCAAs has been shown to reduce the severity of hepatic encephalopathy, its symptoms, and lessens the chances of patients going into a coma. Individuals who suffer from liver cancer also reported ease in their symptoms when they included branched-chain amino acids into their regular diet.

Helps Muscles Grow

Another benefit branched-chain amino acids provide is they help muscles grow, which is particularly important for athletes who need to increase their muscle mass in a short amount of time. Even individuals who are just looking to gain some muscle can benefit by adding BCAAs to their diet. This is because the amino acids are involved in activating the enzymes responsible for building muscles. By activating those enzymes, individuals who are working out find they are able to build muscle a lot faster than without the BCAAs in their diet. In addition, including branched-chain amino acids with a larger quantity of leucine within them than the other essential amino acids was found to be the most potent. Also, adding BCAAs with other supplements that promote muscle growth and development can further results. Besides just athletes and individuals looking to build muscle for aesthetic purposes, patients who suffer from conditions that cause their muscles to be weak or deteriorate can benefit from BCAAs.

Decreases Muscle Soreness

One of the annoying consequences of working out is the muscle soreness that typically occurs afterward. Sometimes the amount of soreness can be so difficult to bear that it keeps individuals from working out again the next day. Thankfully, branched-chain amino acids have been found to have a unique ability to decrease muscle soreness. This is largely believed because they lower the blood levels of certain enzymes called creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase. These two enzymes basically damage the muscles so they can be rebuilt into larger forms. However, they also tend to perform more damage than necessary. By reducing the amount of blood delivered to those enzymes, BCAAs can essentially limit their productivity. In so doing, individuals are left with reduced muscle soreness. This allows them to recover a lot faster, so they can continue their workout the next day without feeling too strained or uncomfortable.

Improves Insulin Sensitivity

Although further research still needs to be conducted, in some studies, the regular inclusion of branched-chain amino acids was shown to actually improve insulin sensitivity. This is because two of the essential amino acids, leucine and isoleucine, help increase the secretion of insulin. They also impact the muscles in making them take in additional sugar from the blood. As a result, this decreases blood sugar. In a time where diabetes is running rampant and more and more individuals have to monitor their blood sugar, including BCAAs in one's diet may be a way to stave off diabetes or help alleviate some of the problems. It should be noticed as well that branched-chain amino acids can have different impacts on the body based on the kind of diet they are added to. So, if individuals want to improve their insulin sensitivity, they should add BCAAs to a diet already geared towards reducing blood sugar.

Foods High In BCCAs

Branched-chain amino acids exist in many different foods and plants. So, whether individuals prefer a ketogenic diet, plant-based diet, or are just a straight-up carnivore, they can easily procure BCAAs through food. Individuals can find eighty-four grams of branched-chain amino acids in meat, fish, and poultry per three-ounce serving. Beans and lentils provide 2.4 to three grams per cup. In milk, individuals obtain two grams per cup. There are also eighty-four grams of BCAAs per three-ounce serving of tofu and tempeh. Cheese lovers can rejoice with twenty-eight grams of branched-chain amino acids for every one-ounce serving. Other foods high in BCCAs are pumpkin seeds with twenty-eight grams per one-ounce serving, and nuts, which also provide roughly twenty-eight grams per one-ounce serving, depending on the nut eaten.

MORE FROM HealthPrep