Proteins in the human body are made up of 20 different amino acids, of which nine are considered essential and must be obtained through one’s diet.
Three of these, leucine, isoleucine, and valine, are known as branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs, and can be found in eggs, meat, dairy and legumes.
Certain natural energy drinks also contain BCAAs.
They play a critical role in energy homeostasis regulation, nutrition metabolism, and gut health. BCAAs are important for immunity in both humans and animals, and are used for patients with advanced liver disease or certain movement disorders caused by antipsychotic drugs. In addition to its use in treatment, BCAAs are used to improve athletic performance, reduce muscle breakdown and prevent fatigue.
This is why many look for a gym drink with 100% natural ingredients containing BCAA.
There are many benefits of branched-chain amino acids and these are five that will make you look for BCAAs in the food and beverages you consume.
It can increase muscle growth
One of the main benefits of BCAAs that makes it an attractive ingredient of natural energy drinks is that it can increase muscle growth, although they must be accompanied by all essential amino acids for best results. Leucine, which is one of the BCAAs, activates a certain pathway in the body. This stimulates the process of making muscles, which is known as muscle protein synthesis (MPS).
A 2017 research studied 10 young, resistance-trained men and found that people who drank a beverage containing 5.6 grams of BCAAs after their resistance workout had a 22% increase in MPS compared to those who consumed a placebo.
BCAAs can prevent the breakdown of muscles
On a similar note is the BCAAs benefit of preventing the wasting of muscles. When MPS is exceeded by protein breakdown, muscle wasting occurs. This can be seen with chronic infections, cancer, periods of fasting, and aging, and is considered a sign of malnutrition.
Since BCAAs amount for 35% of essential amino acids found in muscle proteins and 40% of the total amino acids needed by the human body, supplements, whether through diet or natural energy drinks, can help halt or slow muscle wasting. This is another benefit of BCAAs, and is used especially by the elderly to improve health outcomes and quality of life.
Reduce exercise fatigue
Fatigue tends to follow a workout, and the severity of this depends on factors like the intensity and duration of exercise, nutrition and fitness levels, and environmental factors. However, exercise fatigue can be reduced with the consumption of BCAAs, which are founds in various energy drinks, especially those with 100% natural ingredients.
Researchers explain that muscles use BCAAs during exercising, leading to decreased blood levels, which in turn causes an increase in the essential amino acid known as tryptophan to increase.
Tryptophan is converted to serotonin in the brain, which contributes to the development of exercise fatigue.
However, BCAA supplementation can improve mental focus during a workout, which is believed to be due to the BCAA benefit of reducing fatigue. While BCAAs could reduce exercise fatigue, it does not necessarily mean an improvement in performance during a workout.
BCAAs can decrease muscle soreness
Another benefit of BCAAs that makes a gym drink containing these essential amino acids alluring to consumers is that it decreases muscle soreness after a workout, which is what most of us dislike about working out.
This soreness is called delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS, and typically develops 12 to 24 hours after a workout and can last up to 72 hours. Some studies suggest DOMS is caused by tiny tears in the muscles, but the exact cause is not known.
However, studies have found that BCAAs can decrease serum creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase, indicators of muscle damage, after prolonged exercise, thus reducing the length and severity of DOMS.
BCAAs may help patients with liver disease
People with liver diseases like cirrhosis may find that BCAAs can improve their health, by affecting symptoms and signs of hepatic encephalopathy, which is a loss of brain function that occurs as a result of liver disease. This is because the liver is unable to remove toxins from the blood.
Studies have also found that BCAA supplements may help with hepatocellular carcinoma, which is the most common form of liver cancer and can be caused by liver cirrhosis. This is another benefit of BCAAs.