Today we are going to build on our last protein post, and look at BCAA (Branched-chained Amino Acids). In the last post, looking at vegan vs animal-based proteins, we mentioned BCAA supplements as a method to fill in some of the harder to get Amino Acids from a vegan diet.
Quick Note: if you are ever looking at BCAA supplements and it does not specifically say, “Essential Amino Acids” find a different type of BCAAs.
Proteins, at their core, are different types of Amino Acids. There are non-essential Amino Acids, non-essential because the liver can create them on its own; however, there are essential amino acids that the body cannot create on its own. BCAA’s are a great way to make sure you are getting all the amino acids the body needs, especially if you are someone who is a picky eater, or do not have the means for a highly variable diet.
Research bounces back and forth regarding the validity on whether BCAA’s are beneficial during a workout, post workout, or in general. My educated opinion: most people do not get a sufficient amount of all essential amino acids, this can help fill that gap. Furthermore, research supports the fact that protein does not get converted into fat when taken in excess beyond the needs of the body to maintain muscle mass.
There are many benefits to taking BCAA supplements such as making sure you are getting all your essential amino acids. If you are supportive of them or just merely want to give it a try, make sure they are supplying you with the ESSENTIAL amino acids, rather than the NON-ESSENTIAL amino acids your body can create on its own.