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Lift Me Up: The Many Benefits of BCAAs to the Muscles

Expertly reviewed by Chris Icamen · Dietetics and Nutrition

Written by Fred Layno · Updated Mar 09, 2022

    Lift Me Up: The Many Benefits of BCAAs to the Muscles

    Aside from whey protein, one other popular supplement among bodybuilders and athletes are BCAA supplements. Amino acids, or more precisely branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), are commonly used as dietary supplements by many athletes and people who perform regular and moderate physical activity, regardless of exercise level. What are the benefits of BCAAs?

    BCAAs are first proven to increase muscle mass and are also involved in limiting structural and metabolic disorders associated with movement disorders.

    BCAAs are mainly found in animal foods such as milk. The isolated milk protein (whey protein) is rich in BCAAs and leucine. Some vegetable and plant-based foods also have low amino acid content (such as soybeans). 

    The Health Benefits of BCAAs

    Muscle Protein Synthesis

    Among the many benefits of BCAAs is its BCAAs are stored directly in muscle tissue and help build new muscles and increase strength. Muscle tissues are made up of two types of proteins, actin, and myosin.

    These two proteins are then made up of three types of amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These three are essential for the formation of new muscles and the preservation of existing muscles. BCAA supplements increase the raw material of muscle tissue and contribute to muscle building.

    Prevention Of Muscle Damage

    There is evidence that eccentric muscle contraction causes muscle pain and injury (increased myofibril laceration) due to protein leakage into the systemic circulation (proteolysis).

    Supplementing BCAAs early, before, during, and/or after physical activity can reduce muscle damage and prevent muscle weakness. Post-exercise protein intake increases muscle protein synthesis rates.

    This stimulates the net growth of muscle protein. It also protects the skeletal muscles from damage by giving them an adaptive response to long-term training. 

    Benefits of BCAAs as a Fuel Source During Exercise

    When an athlete exercises vigorously for long periods of time, the body begins to break down proteins and consume BCAAs to supplement the inadequate source of energy. Amino Acids are muscle proteins that function as an energy source during exercise.

    After a competition, the athlete’s blood levels of BCAAs can drop by up to 20% due to the consumption of intramuscular BCAAs during prolonged exercise. Tissue increases by promoting muscle regeneration after exercise. Supplementation with BCAAs, the source of muscle, helps with this process.

    Benefits of BCAAs on Reducing Fatigue

    One of the benefits of BCAAs is that it helps athletes recover from fatigue. Amino acids are absorbed faster than protein. Therefore, it can be easily replaced during physical activity. BCAAs also work to reduce the production of lactic acid, which causes fatigue. BCAAs can act as neurotransmitters to reduce fatigue.

    Neurotransmitters are chemicals in our nervous system that relay signals through the nerves and to the brain. Some studies have shown that taking BCAA supplements before exercise also improves the BCAA profile in the blood.

    Benefits of BCAAs on Reducing The Risk Of Liver Disease

    Studies have linked BCAAs to liver disease treatment. Controlled research was conducted to investigate the effect of long-term oral supplementation of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) on event-free survival in 622 patients with decompensated cirrhosis. In this study, they analyzed the development of liver cancer.

    Subjects were divided into two groups. One group received 12 g/ day of BCAA treatment. The other group received a diet containing equivalent daily intakes of energy and protein. These are done to determine the factors that interacted with both treatment groups. 

    A comparison of the BCAA group with the diet group showed that the BCAA group with a body mass index of 25 or higher and an Alpha-Fetoprotein Tumor Marker (AFP) level of 20 ng/ml had a significantly reduced risk of liver cancer. This shows that supplemental oral BCAAs can reduce the risk of liver cancer in patients with cirrhosis who have these specific factors.

    Learn more about sports nutrition here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Expertly reviewed by

    Chris Icamen

    Dietetics and Nutrition

    Written by Fred Layno · Updated Mar 09, 2022

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