A branched-chain amino acid popularly known as BCAA is an amino acid with a branched aliphatic side chain. BCAA is considered one of the most commonly consumed dietary supplements. A supplement is any product that tends to augment the diet when taken as a pill, powder, or liquid. The main role of a supplement is to provide nutrients extracted from food sources or synthetic to multiply the quantity of their consumption by a person. BCAA contains three types of amino acids namely, Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine, that is used up by our bodies to create protein. These three proteins are a part of the nine essential proteins required by our body, which it cannot produce itself, and thus they are supposed to consume by various outside sources.
Like many supplements, BCAAs can be consumed in the form of protein powders by mixing them in water to form a suspension. The supplement can be consumed amidst or after the workout. But more often, it is suggested for BCAAs to be consumed in the form of protein-rich foods like meat, dairy products, eggs, etc. An ideal amount of consumption approximately 7-10 grams. Alongside protein powder, BCAAs can also be taken in the form of tablets.
USES OF BCAA
Most Branched-chain amino acids are widely used to improve athletic performance, prevent drowsiness and reduce muscle disruption. The amino acids are the base of a protein, and since BCAA provides three out of the nine essential amino acids, they tend to help in muscle development. This is the expanded benefit or use of BCAA. BCAA contains Leucine which is an amino acid that encourages muscle growth and repair by speeding the process of protein synthesis in the body. More protein synthesis more the muscles strengthens. BCAA also significantly elevates energy for people working out in particular fitness regimes and for sports. It does so by decreasing the serotonin hormone (which stimulates motor skills and moods). The decrease in this hormone forces a person to feel a sense of tiredness during workouts, which thus results in boosting athletic and fitness performances because of which BCAA is also known as performance enhancers.
SIDE EFFECTS OF BCAA
Like all other supplements, there are no such major side effects of BCAA if consumed in the right amounts and in a prescribed way. However, BCAA tends to intervene with the glucose levels, thus it is advised not to consume it during the time of pre-or post-surgery. Any disturbance in the glucose levels tends to alter blood sugar levels which are not recommended. Pregnant women are also advised to not consume any form of BCAA during their pregnancy period.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT BCAA FOR YOUR WORKOUT
The focus of any BCAA is to improve muscle strength, which is powered by Leucine present in the BCAA. Therefore, it is assumed that a BCAA with a high amount or ratio of Leucine as compared to the other three amino acids is best suitable. But contrary to the popular belief, there needs to be a set proportion of all three amino acids for BCAA to produce effective results. The most common and popular ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine is 2:1:1. This means that Leucine is present twice the amounts that Isoleucine and Valine. Although the amount of Leucine is more the amount of the other two amino acids needs to be in a proper ratio to maintain balance. Leucine along with Isoleucine and Valine is more effective in fat-burning than as an individual.
The amount of Valine plays an important role while working out. This is so because the brain converts another amino acid namely tryptophan (maintains body proteins, muscles, and neurotransmitters) into serotonin, which results in fatigue more quickly. Valine reduces the levels of tryptophan, which in turn reduces serotonin, thus pushing you throughout the session to workout more. It makes you feel more energetic and pumped up.
Thus, it is important to consider the percentage of each essential amino acid, before consuming any BCAA. Leucine, Valine, and Isoleucine all play an important role and must be considered to choose the right branched-chain amino acid that will be suitable for your body type.