"BCAA" is the acronym that stands for "branch chain amino acid." Branch chain amino acids are a group of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are amino acids that the body needs to function correctly, and because the body cannot make them on its own, it must be consumed through food or through a supplement.
BCAA's are the building blocks for protein and muscle, and they also help regulate blood sugar. They reduce fatigue that is often felt in exercise by reducing the production of serotonin in the brain. Of all of the three essential amino acids, leucine is thought to have the most significant impact on muscle growth, development, and maintenance. On the other hand, isoleucine and valine mostly help the body produce energy (ATP) and regulate blood sugar levels.
The Main Benefits of BCAA's:
Reduces muscle soreness
Increases muscle mass
Lowers blood sugar levels
Enhance weight loss
Enhances liver health
The recommended dosage for women is 9 grams of BCAAs per day, and for men, 9 grams is the suggested daily amount.
Most people who eat a sufficient amount of high-quality animal protein do not need to supplement BCAA's, as meat contains all amino acids. However, it can be extra beneficial for those that are on a plant-based diet, or who engage in strenuous exercise or weightlifting.
As always, it is best to look for food sources for nutrients. Some of the best food sources of BCAAs include:
Meat, poultry, and fish
Beans and lentils
Tofu and tempeh