If you are new to training, odds are you've heard, or seen, references to "BCAAs" and had absolutely no idea what was being talked about. We get it, we've been there. Or maybe you know what the acronym means but aren't really sure what BCAAs can do for your body. Branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs, are important in your body's recovery process. Many people take them as a supplement but you can also find them in many of the foods you eat. Here is what you need to know:
What are amino acids?Amino acids are the foundation, or "building blocks" of protein. They are essential for metabolic function and without them, your body would not be able to work properly. Some amino acids are produced in the body while others must come from your diet. Generally speaking, when you eat protein, your body breaks it down and what remains is amino acid.
Do you supplement with BCAAs?
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What are branched-chain amino acids?"Branched-chain" references the chemical construction of particular amino acids. There are 3 types of BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These amino acids are NOT produced in the body and must be consumed through diet.
Why do you need BCAAs?BCAAs are essential to rebuilding, growing, and repairing muscle. Many people who train at high levels take them to prevent muscle damage and soreness. If you get BCAAs into your system after a workout, they can help you recover more rapidly. They also have a number of medical uses! BCAAs have been used to treat ALS and some muscular diseases. They promote appetite in patients who are in kidney failure or suffering with cancer. They've also been known to aide brain function in people with advanced liver disease, mania, tardive dyskinesia, and anorexia.
Where do you get BCAAs?If you are eating lots of protein, you are likely getting your BCAAs. You can find them in many of the foods you are probably already eating, like:
- lean beef/red meat
- canned tuna
- wild salmon
- turkey breast
- roasted peanuts