BCAA stands for “Branched Chain Amino Acid”. Proteins consist of various building blocks, including amino acids. Amino acids play a role in various processes in the body. They are important for energy production and the production of new cells.
BCAA is a collective name for the essential amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These amino acids are often sold together as supplements in various sporting goods stores. You can buy it in the form of a powder, a drink, or pills.
What types of amino acids are there?
If not, you can take action and enrich your diet with amino acid-rich foods. Think of certain types of natural foods and BCAA supplements.
Below I explain the following three groups: Essential amino acids, semi-essential amino acids, and non-essential amino acids. I also mention which types of amino acids can be classified under those three groups.
Essential amino acids
Essential amino acids (BCAAs) are amino acids that the body cannot make on its own. We must get these amino acids through food. There are a total of 22 amino acids, of which 9 are essential. Examples of essential amino acids are valine, tryptophan, and histidine.
Semi-Essential and Non-Essential Amino Acids
In addition, there are semi-essential and non-essential amino acids. Semi-essential amino acids are amino that can be made by the body itself under normal circumstances.
Under certain circumstances, these become essential amino acids, because the body is then unable to make these amino acids. This can happen, for example, in the event of illness and heavy intensive, long-term sporting efforts. Arginine, glutamine, and asparagine are examples of the 6 semi-essential amino acids.
There are 7 non-essential amino acids, including alanine, cysteine, and tyrosine. In addition, BCAA supplements (as being essential amino) are sometimes sold that contain non-essential amino acids. It is good to pay attention to that. Examples include ornithine and citrulline. The body can make the non-essential amino acids itself.
What is the effect of BCAAs?
Studies show that an essential BCAA can support a faster recovery of muscle strength after intensive strength training. This means that there is still insufficient certainty to call it a causal relationship. For example, it could be a coincidence.
To gain more clarity, more research needs to be conducted into the effect of BCAA amino. With adequate intake, also appears to reduce muscle breakdown. However, the body needs all kinds of essential amino acids to achieve this.
Much research into BCAA amino acids is still of limited quality. As a result, no conclusions can be drawn yet.
Natural Sources With BCAAs
If you are a vegetarian, it is important to vary between the different vegetable sources. This way you get all BCAA types in sufficient quantities.
Need for BCAA amino acids
With a varied diet with sufficient calories, you would in principle get enough BCAAs.
Take into account the increased need for energy and proteins if you do a lot of sports such as fitness. If you don't get enough protein, you also have a greater chance of getting too few BCAA amino acids.
When you are sick, you also have an increased need for energy and proteins. In case of illness, ask a doctor or dietician for advice. A supplement with BCAAs is in principle not necessary if you pay close attention to your needs and diet.
In addition, an excessive intake of amino acids can be stored as fat. This can lead to obesity. This may conflict with your nutritional or sports goals.
In people with kidney damage, an excessive intake of amino acids can be harmful. While some people, such as athletes, can benefit from dietary supplements with BCAAs, there are certain groups of people who should be extra careful with these types of supplements.