Ever wondered why fitness buffs rave about certain supplements? Read on, to get the bottom line on Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs).
Why, you may wonder, do so many athletes and gym goers take BCAA supplements? The answer is simple. We have enough proof that BCAAs can reduce muscle damage, and delay fatigue of the nervous system.
In the end, they increase endurance, fulfilling every fitness lover’s dream. Here, we answer some commonly asked questions on this category of supplements.
What are branched-chain amino acids?
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. You have varying chains of 20 amino acids, that create thousands of different proteins in your body. Of these, 8 are called ‘essential’ amino acids, which your body can’t manufacture. So you need to eat foods that contain these.
And guess what else? Of the 8 essential amino acids, 3 are special, because their chemical structure is unique. The branched chain amino acids are called Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. BCAA supplements are made up of these, and enable you to compensate for any shortage of these, in your body.
What role do BCAAs play in exercise metabolism?
BCAAs reduce physical and mental fatigue during exercise. Compared to other amino acids, these are broken down more easily, and rapidly. Another difference between BCAAs and others, is that they are metabolized by enzymes in many parts of the body. Other amino acids are primarily broken down in the liver.
And that’s not all, 2 of the BCAAs, Leucine and Isoleucine also hold the distinction of being “ketogenic” amino acids. These convert into ketone bodies rather than glucose for energy. Ultimately, the ketone bodies become carbon dioxide and exit the body.
How much should you take?
Usually, the amino acids Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine are present in the ration 2:1:1 respectively, in supplements. There’s no minimum or maximum limit set for BCAAs, and doses between 5-10 g are proven to be non-toxic and beneficial. However, ingesting more than this isn’t advisable, since high doses increase blood ammonia levels.
Are BCAAs meant only for athletes and active individuals?
BCAAs are not just for the sports community. Another group that benefits is patients who have undergone surgery, since BCAAs boost recovery.