Why Are BCAA Essential?

Why are BCAAs so popular? You might have heard a few things about it but still not sure why these are so essential.

What is a BCAA?

Leucine, isoleucine, and valine are three BCAAs i.e. branched chain amino acids. These are named so due to their branched or nonlinear carbon atom configuration. Amino acids serve as the building blocks of the proteins. Proteins as you already know forms the structure of your body. Either your body produces amino acids (non-essential) or you need to take them through diet (essential).

Why are BCAAs so essential?

BCAAs are essential amino acids. This means your body doesn’t produce these, still they take more than one third place in proteins present in human muscles. Meat, eggs, dairy, fish and poultry are rich sources of BCAAs. BCAAs supplements are also available and taken under sports nutrition. BCAAs are different from other amino acids as they are mainly metabolized in the muscle itself, unlike other amino acids which are broken down by the liver. This phenomena is important for performance as:

  • Quickly absorbed – BCAAs quickly enter the bloodstream. This way it doesn’t follow the usual process of breaking down in the liver. So, active tissues (mainly muscle) readily take them.
  • More fuel – BCAAs offer an extra fuel source for working muscles because breaking down of BCAAs provide energy during long workout sessions. These play an important role in overall protein as well. This means, BCAAs maintain your body either in catabolic (tissue breakdown) or recovery (tissue building) phase.

Of the BCAAs, leucine starts muscle protein synthesis and prevents protein breakdown. 

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