Amino acids are naturally present in nature and the human body. These are organic compounds that combine to form proteins. Proteins and amino acids are the building blocks of life. Amino acids are used by the human body to aid cellular growth, digestion of food, repair of body tissue, and fuel several body functions. They are also used as sources of energy in the body.
There are 20 types of amino acids make up the different proteins in the body. These amino acids are grouped into essential amino acids, nonessential amino acids, and conditional amino acids. Conditional and nonessential amino acids can be produced by the body on its own. On the other hand, essential amino acids are obtained from foods rich in protein.
There are nine essential amino acids in the human body, and this article will focus on the three branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which are leucine, valine, and isoleucine. The body uses these amino acids to generate ATP, regulate cellular processes, tissue generation, metabolism, and protein synthesis. BCAAs are found in eggs, dairy products, pork, chicken, and other protein-rich food.
Below are some of the health benefits of BCAAs.
Increase Muscle Growth
BCAAs play an essential role in building muscles. For example, leucine aids in synthesizing muscle protein. Muscle protein synthesis (MPS) is a naturally occurring process in which the body’s amino acids are incorporated into skeletal muscle proteins to repair and rebuild muscles. There are three ways to stimulate muscle growth and MPS: calories, exercise, and proteins.
Leucine is the nutrient needed by the body to trigger muscle anabolism or building and maintaining muscle mass. Extensive studies show the effectiveness of taking leucine supplements immediately after a workout to help the body repair muscles. According to experts, the timing, quality, and quantity of protein (in this case, leucine) intake are essential in increasing muscle protein synthesis.
A recent study shows an impressive 22% increase in muscle protein synthesis among participants who consumed 6 grams of BCAAs after a workout session, compared to the placebo group. However, participants who consumed a whey protein shake that contains 6 grams of BCAAs and other essential amino acids showed a 45% increase in muscle protein synthesis. So, although BCAAs help stimulates MPS, it is still best to take complete protein sources for more impressive results.