Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)
You may have heard people talk about and promote a sub-group of
essential amino acids called branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and their benefits for exercise performance, recovery, and muscle growth. These amino acids are leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
BCAAs are unique in their structure, which allows them to bypass metabolism in the liver, unlike other amino acids. BCAAs are readily absorbed in the muscles and have important physiological roles, from regulating carbohydrate metabolism and muscle growth, to serving as an alternative energy source during endurance exercise.
You can now find many BCAA products on the market (in powder and tablet form), which athletes use in the hope of improving exercise performance, growing muscle and speeding-up recovery after a workout.
However, there is limited evidence that supplementation with BCAAs improves exercise performance and promotes muscle growth . This is one of the reasons the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) added BCAAs into the C group of supplements, meaning that scientific evidence does not support benefits for exercise performance amongst athletes . The consistent message coming from multiple research studies is that individuals see no extra benefit from selectively consuming BCAAs when they are meeting daily protein needs.
The key takeaway?
Prioritise your overall protein consumption. If you’re eating enough protein from a variety of sources, it’s very likely that you are consuming enough BCAAs anyway, and there is no need to supplement with a BCAA-specific product. Also remember, that regular foods and protein powders, like Roam Protein, also contain BCAAs.
Check out our protein calculator to estimate your daily protein needs.