What Are Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)?

What Are Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)?

Branched chain amino acids, aka BCAAs, are usually packaged together as three different compounds: Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. But, why these and what do they do?

These three essential amino acids can be found in both food (meat and dairy) or by themselves as supplements. They are mainly used to build up muscle tissue and potentially prevent the breakdown of muscle tissue. 

In a recent 2021 study, Tejevath, et. al. found that subjects with sarcopenia (muscle wasting) and liver cirrhosis (liver scaring and damage), who underwent long-term BCAAs supplementation improved sarcopenia and prognostic markers in patients with advanced liver cirrhosis, compared to those patients who did not take BCAAs. 1

Although BCAAs are usually consumed for sport performance, this study shows they can actually provide some true health benefit even for those who are not involved in rigorous sports training.

 

Why are they called "Branched" chain amino acids?

They are named this because they are, in fact, branched. Meaning that these amino acids have a central carbon that has a branch of more carbon molecules that can be saturated (more molecules can be added to).

 

Leucine

Mostly found in meats, dairy, wheat, and soy. Of the branch chain amino acids, Leucine is thought to be the most important of the three. It can help with the following: 

  • Helps increase athletic performance
  • Boosts athletic endurance
  • Promotes lean muscle growth
  • Aids muscle recovery

Isoleucine

Mostly found in nuts and seeds, meat, legumes, eggs, peas, soy products, brown rice, and whole wheat. This compound is usually found in highest concentration inside our muscles. Levels of isoleucine usually decline rapidly after a workout. It is usually best to have it 30 minutes to an hour ahead of your workout for this purpose. Isoleucine can help with:

  • May improve athletic endurance
  • When taken in conjunction with exercise it may promote muscle growth.

Valine

Mostly found in leafy vegetables, meats, beans, milk, nuts, and mushrooms. Valine works synergistically with leucine and isoleucine to aid in muscle maintenance and endurance. It can also help the overall health of your liver and gallbladder. Valine can help with:

  • Muscle integrity/health
  • Potential detoxification pathways via liver
  • Athletic performance
  • Improved exercise recovery

 When to take BCAAs for best results and performance?

There is something all humans have experienced after lifting something heavy or after a strenuous workout: Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). You know, when leg day comes around and then you can't sit on the toilet the next day or even worse, on the second day. This is usually from a couple factors:

  • Not stretching after your workout
  • Not getting enough nutrients before or after your workout (BCAAs)
  • Not getting adequate sleep the night before or the night of
  • Eating or drinking (alcohol) poorly after your workout

However, research shows that if you drink your BCAAs 1 hour before a workout, it will help with muscle energy reserves and muscle recovery more effectively than if you wait after your workout. 2

Many BCAAs on the market today have added ingredients that aren't needed to get the results you desire. They have fillers and sugars that may hinder your performance and affect your health adversely.

That is why TERA Labs Muscle Whisperer was created. It has a whopping 3,000 mg of leucine and 4,000 mg of glutamine (muscle building amino acid). Along with a great ratio of BCAAs, Muscle Whisperer has electrolytes to help with hydration during your workout. Here at TERA Labs, it is our daily go-to pick me up. We love it and we know you will too. Grab yours here today.