BCAA Benefits – Body Building, Brain and Health

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are a group of three proteinogenic amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These three acids are essential because the body cannot make them from other compounds and must obtain them from food. They are called branched chain amino acids because the molecular structure is made of branches.

BCAAs promote muscle growth by releasing hormones, such as insulin, growth factor 1, glucagon, and growth hormone. A study group of 19–22-year-old university student swimmers, saw an increased level of serum hormone growth hormone after BCAA supplementation along with 25 minutes of break stroking and a 600 m crawl.

The placebo group did not see such a high augmentation in serum HGH. Study was published by Fu-Chun Tang of the National Taiwan Normal University.

Questions arise with BCAA as to when to take it, what are side effects, and should you combine it with other supplements. In this article will cover the 12 benefits of BCAA supplementation.

1. Grows Muscle

Muscle is a bundle of fibrous tissue in a human that can contract and relax producing movement or maintaining the position of body parts. Muscles are usually attached to bones and work in pairs, with one contracting while the other relaxes, to move the bones in a specific direction.

BCAA grows muscle by augmenting certain hormones and by stimulating muscle protein synthesis. More muscle protein is produced which stimulates the muscle to grow. A study by Keith Baar, Department of Neurobiology, University of California states that ingestion of BCAA stimulated a 22% higher response of myofibrillar muscle protein synthesis when compared to the placebo group.

BCAA stimulates muscle growth by increasing the raw materials for the proteins, actin and myosin, that are in muscle tissues according to José Miguel Martínez Sanz, Adjunct Professeur at the University of Alicante. BCAAs supply the following raw materials: isoleucine, valine, and leucine.

Muscle growth is what happens when the muscle has had its connective tissue damaged during exercise. This tearing of tissue can be painful, but it does not last forever. Nevertheless, BCAA does reduce the time period of this muscle pain.

2. Reduces Muscle Pain

Muscle pain due to exercise is typically referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). It is a type of muscle pain that typically occurs 12-24 hours after exercise and is associated with microscopic muscle damage caused by eccentric muscle action. It is typically accompanied by muscle stiffness, swelling, tenderness, and decreased range of motion.

BCAA reduces muscle pain due to exercise by decreasing muscle damage. The levels of creatine kinase are lowered. High levels of creatine kinase signify muscle damage according to a paper published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism.

Experiencing muscle pain seems even worse if it takes long to recover from DOMS.

3. Speeds up Muscle Recovery

Muscle recovery is the process of rebuilding and repairing muscle tissue that has been damaged during exercise. This process involves the body restoring energy stores, repairing muscle fibers, and restoring muscle function.

BCAA speeds up muscle recovery by blunting exercise induced muscle damage. A paper authored by Martim Gomes Weber, Research Group in Tissue Regeneration, State University of Londrina, stated that 7 studies concluded that BCAA supplementation reduced DOMS after 24 to 72 hours.

The feeling of tiredness that accompanies muscle recovery is also reduced by BCAA supplementation.

4. Lowers Exercise Fatigue

Exercise fatigue is a lowering of the maximal voluntary muscle force.

BCAA lowers exercise fatigue by sending BCAA into the muscle tissue. It is then oxidized which provides energy that will lower the probability of muscle fatigue. According to a paper published in the Journal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry, the oxidized BCAA hinders depletion of glucose within muscle tissue. When glucose is lowered in muscle tissue during endurance training, physical performance deteriorates due to fatiguing of the muscle.

5. Prevents Muscle Wasting

Muscle wasting is a condition in which muscle tissues are thinned out and shrink due to lack of physical activity, illness, or aging. It is also referred to as muscle atrophy. Muscle wasting can lead to decreased strength, mobility, and functional ability.

BCAA prevents muscle wasting by stimulating protein synthesis that activates mTOR signaling that regulates satellite cell proliferation causing muscle growth. Also, BCCA slows down protein breakdown according to the Pharmacological Research Journal. This inhibits muscle wasting.

Something that you need to be concerned about is that if you are attempting to burn fat, at some point muscle wasting may occur.

6. Burns Fat

Fat burning is the process by which stored fat is broken down into smaller molecules and released into the bloodstream to be used as energy. This process occurs when the body needs to obtain energy from its fat stores, such as when the body is in a fasting state or is engaging in physical activity.

BCCAs burn fat by providing amino acids that prevent muscle breakdown. This helps the body to conserve lean muscle mass, which boosts metabolism, burning fat. A paper published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, states that a BCAA test group 21-28 years of age lost on average .05 kg of fat mass while maintaining lean mass.

The brain’s ability to control hormones levels also affects weight loss. BCAA can increase the activity of certain hormones in the brain.

7. Treats Certain Brain Diseases

Brain disease is any condition that affects the normal functioning of the brain and its structures. It can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetic disorders, infections, physical injury, and exposure to toxins. Some of the most common brain diseases include Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and traumatic brain injury.

A paper published in the Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation concluded that BCAA supplementation had improved trauma brain injury (TBI) severity in 4 out of 5 of the studies that they had examined. This conclusion is limited to only severe TBI cases.

BCAA has been reported as being able to alleviate symptoms in the brain disorder caused by chronic live failure

8. Reduces Symptoms of Hepatic Encephalopathy

Hepatic encephalopathy is a neuropsychiatric disorder caused by liver dysfunction, characterized by a range of cognitive, psychiatric, and motor disturbances that range from mild personality changes to coma. It is associated with a variety of liver diseases, including cirrhosis, hepatitis, and drug-induced hepatotoxicity.

BCAA reduces symptoms of hepatic encephalopathy. A study by Jung Gil Park, Department of Internal Medicine, Yeungnam University over a period of 2 years of patients treated with 8.3 g of BCAA showed improvement in the Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD) score and in the serum bilirubin level. Patients treated with 4.15 g of BCAA only had improvements in the serum bilirubin level.

BCCA also is used to treat tardive dyskinesia, a condition in the brain that is like hepatic encephalopathy, can cause personality changes.

9. Reduces Symptoms of Tardive Dyskinesia

Tardive dyskinesia is a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary, repetitive body movements such as facial grimacing, tongue protrusion, lip smacking, puckering and pursing of the lips, and rapid eye blinking. It can be caused by prolonged use of antipsychotic medications, such as those used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression.

A BCAA study by Movement Disorders Division, The Nathan S. Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, New York State Office of Mental Health states that BCAA possibly reduces symptoms of tardive dyskinesia by increasing the amount of the large neutral amino acid (LNAA).

A two-week trial was conducted that supplied BCAA medical food 3 times a day to 9 men that had tardive dyskinesia-related movements. Their plasma Phe concentrations decreased along with a reduction their BCAA/LMAA ratios due to the BCAA supplementation. The men were videotaped and 6 out of the 9 patients had a reduction in symptoms of 58%. All subjects saw at least a 38% improvement.

BCAA has been used to treat phenylketonuria, a mental functioning disorder that can lead to tardive dyskinesia.

10. Improves Mental Function

Mental function is the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral processes that allow individuals to think, remember, reason, perceive, and learn. Mental functions are often impaired by mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

BCAA improves mental function by improving hippocampal-dependent cognitive dysfunction when coupled with the restoring of net synaptic efficacy according to a study in the Journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study involved mice that received a sham injury or a lateral fluid percussion injury (LFPI).

Besides mental functioning improvement, certain nutrients can help brain function. We will explore how BCAA helps with the desire to to consume nutritional foods.

11. Boosts Appetite

Appetite is the desire for food, drink, or other nourishment. It is regulated both by physiological needs and environmental and psychological influences. Physiologically, appetite is controlled by hormones, such as ghrelin, leptin, and insulin, and neuronal signals in the hypothalamus. Psychological factors, such as stress, emotion, or memory, can also affect appetite.

BCCA boosts appetite by lowering the level of serotonin. The lowering of serotonin causes appetite to be less regulated, causing an increase in appetite according to paper published by SuJean Choi, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Manquette University.

Sometimes a loss of appetite can be due to liver problems. Nevertheless, BCAA aids in maintaining a healthy liver.

12. Improves Liver Health

Liver health refers to the overall health of the liver, an organ responsible for many essential functions in the body. These functions include bile production, metabolism of drugs and toxins, fat metabolism, storage of energy and vitamins, and production of proteins.

BCAA improves liver health by increasing the ability of the liver hepatocytes to regenerate. This can increase the survival rate of patients dealing with liver failure according to Doctor Milan Holecek, Department of Physiology, Charles University in Prague.

Women can benefit from these BCAA developments since women are more likely to develop hepatotoxicity and liver failure than men.

BCAA Benefits to Women

BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) are essential for women because they help build muscle, burn fat, and improve overall performance. Women are also susceptible to muscle wasting as they age, and BCCA can prevent muscle breakdown.

Women are at risk for osteoporosis than men due to a reduction in oestrogen hormone. Bone mineral density may be aided through the introduction of leucine by bcaa according to a study conducted on a group of men and women totalling 1850. Study was completed by Laura Carbone, Division of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Augusta University.

The side effects of BCAA are low for both men and women.

What are the Side Effects of BCAA?

The side effects of bcaa are nausea, diarrhea and bloating.

According to the Physiological Research Journal, bcaa can lower the intake of phenylalanine, HIS, tryptophan (TRP), tyrosine which can be detrimental to patients with psychiatric disorders.

It is also suggested that increased bcaa levels can cause insulin resistance which cause complications related to diabetes.

BCAA supplementation side effects are rare when a normal diet is followed according to a paper published by Francesco Bifari, Laboratory of Cell Metabolism and Regenerative Medicine, Department of Medical Biotechnology and Translational Medicine, University of Milan. Even infused bcaa dosages at 9.75 g did not produce adverse effects.

BCAA is a trusted bodybuilding supplement that produces rarely adverse effects, while benefiting greatly muscle building

Combining BCAA supplementation along with Omega 3 has proven to be beneficial.

What are the Side Effects of Taking BCAA with Omega 3?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that consists of a long chain of carbon atoms with a double bond between the third and fourth carbon atoms from the end of the chain. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods such as flaxseed, walnuts, and salmon.

The side effects of taking bcaa with omega 3 are nausea, diarrhea, bad breath, bad-smelling sweat, heartburn and possibly bloating.

The timing of when you take the two supplements together does not seem to alter its beneficial effects.

When Should you Take BCAA?

You should take bcaa with breakfast for enhanced physical ability during workouts. Taking bcaa pre-workout or post-workout does not have any effect on the benefits such as muscle growth. A study by Takashi Ikeda, School of Nursing and Rehabilitation Sciences, Showa University, states that a test group of 46 stroke victims proved that taking bcaa with breakfast or post-exercise had the same effect on the growth rate of skeletal muscle mass. So, timing is not a large factor when supplementing your diet with bcaa.