8 Benefits of BCAA and its effects on the body

BCAA stands for  Branched Chain Amino Acids  or  branched chain amino acids (leucine, valine and isoleucine) .

The compound is commonly indicated to assist in muscle repair, favor the entry of proteins into the muscle after training and give more resistance in physical activity.

Below you can learn a little more about the actions of branched amino acids in the body and the effects of BCAA supplementation:


Reduces muscle fatigue

During exercise, the muscle undergoes  fatigue  due to decreased concentrations of branched-chain amino acids. In the brain, BCAAs and tryptophan are competing substances. That is, if one rises, the other has its action reduced.

Therefore, the reduction of BCAA allows tryptophan to reach the brain in greater quantity.

As a precursor to serotonin (a neurotransmitter that regulates, among other things, mood, sleep and appetite), it favors tiredness , sleep and fatigue.

Thus, supplementation with BCAA is intended to prevent it from reaching the brain in large quantities, causing physical resistance to be maintained during exercise.

A study published in the journal Revista Brasileira de Nutrição Esportiva, in 2013, points out that leucine (one of the amino acids of BCAA) has shown an important participation in the anabolic and catabolic processes of muscle, helping in hypertrophy and muscle recovery.

In this process, the amino acid has a degradation inhibiting function (that is, it reduces catabolism) and promotes protein synthesis (that is, it favors anabolism), which are essential for muscle growth.

According to the study, leucine has an anti-atrophic action and, therefore, it is very promising in intense physical activities, but it is also able to slow down the aging process.

Thus, it assists in maintaining the strength and structure of the muscle tissue as a whole.

In addition, leucine intake is able to temporarily promote a slight increase in blood insulin levels, causing protein synthesis to be stimulated.

Studies carried out in 2006 and published in the journal  The Journal of Nutrition , indicate that this may occur because, when insulin levels rise, there is an increase in blood flow and, consequently, a greater distribution of amino acids to muscle tissues.

Briefly, BCAA acts as a nitrogen transporter, which acts as a facilitator for the entry of other amino acids into cells, reducing muscle wasting.

With this, the performance and performance during the activities are high, the practitioner of intense activities feels less fatigue and withstands more weight or more repetitions (with the best execution of the exercises, he obtains better physical gains).

Helps prevent catabolism

Anyone looking for hypertrophy or muscle definition knows the importance that protein intake, in general, has in these processes.

Without proteins, muscle tissue does not recover and physical exercises may have the opposite result: instead of increasing, you will lose lean mass through wear and tear.

A study on the effects of amino acids in athletes, published in  The Journal of Nutrition , in 2006, pointed out that BCAAs, especially leucine, can favor protein synthesis and decrease muscle breakdown during exercise.

That is, the fabric is better preserved.

Assists in fat reduction

It is not only those who want to work their muscles that should be aware of BCAAs, because if the goal is to reduce measures, paying attention to the muscle-fat ratio is essential.

In general, when thinking about losing weight, diet (reducing or restricting food intake) and increasing exercise are the first things that come to mind.

As the preference is for reducing fat and not muscle mass, prioritizing muscle maintenance is essential, as food restriction tends to reduce the supply of proteins, making it difficult to repair the body after activities.

Along with an increase in exercise, the result is that there is a significant loss of lean mass .

This may not even sound so bad for those who just want to lose weight without defining their bodies. But the muscles are lean tissues that can even favor the reduction of fat, because the body spends more calories to maintain 1 kilo of muscle than to maintain 1 kilo of fat.

That is, more muscle equals less fat.

Improves muscle recovery

A study carried out in 2012 and published in the  Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition , pointed out that the consumption of BCAA before and after training can increase muscle recovery, reduce pain resulting from microlesions generated by exercise and favor mass gain muscular.

It is worth mentioning that, in the study, the participants ingested 10g of BCAA before and after training, in addition to the food already adequate to the required physical performance.

Therefore, despite the results pointing to the promising effects of supplementation, it is perceived from large dosages, which may not produce similar actions in small doses (even those recommended in BCAA packages).

Reduces pain after exercise

That pain due to physical exercise has a name: DOMS, from the acronym  Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness  or late-onset muscle pain. In general, these late pains occur when the person is not used to physical activities or has changed training (inserted new exercises or changed their routine).

Studies published in the sports journal Jornal Internacional de Nutrição Esportiva e Metabolismo Desportivo show that participants who ingested BCAA supplements before starting a training had up to 30% less late pain in up to 48 after the activity.

But there are studies published in the journal ISRN Nutrition that do not confirm previous results. Thus, it is also necessary to take into account the perception of pain, the biological, physical and daily factors of the participants.

Assists in hypertrophy

BCAAs will not make you gain muscle directly, but they do play a secondary role in hypertrophy.

First, to gain lean mass, you need to maintain what you already have. For this, BCAAs help prevent the catabolism of your muscle tissue.

Whether the goal is to define or just not lose muscle, providing the body with branched amino acids is essential. And in that case, maintaining the pace of physical activity is sufficient.

But if the goal is to improve fitness and gain muscle, BCAAs act indirectly by reducing muscle fatigue, giving you more resistance and helping you to endure one more repetition or increase weights.

If the demand during exercise is high, your muscle undergoes more microlesions and this leads to hypertrophy. Of course, it is necessary that the food is also adequate for the action of BCAAs to have good results.

Action on blood sugar rate

In addition to direct action on muscles, there is research directing and investigating the action of branched amino acids also on the hormone insulin.

Although some researchers have indicated positive results in reducing blood sugar rates, the controversy is still great and the data are quite inconclusive.

A study published in the journal of Biochemistry and Biophysics Studies indicates that the action of leucine and isoleucine can promote greater insulin secretion, combating the higher blood glucose index.

But the hypothesis is countered by other research that does not prove the action, as in a study published in the medical journal Metabolismo, in which the participants did not present any glycemic alteration with the supplementation.

Also considering a study that evaluated 27 participants who used BCAA, 10 showed a reduction in sugar rates, while 17 of them had an increase or no change in sugar rates.

Hepatic action

Scientifically, there is no recognized action of the supplement on kidney dysfunction.

But a study published in the Chinese journal of Hepatology suggests that the patients analyzed had better liver function, reduced risk of complications and reduced hospitalizations due to complications of liver disease.