All about the Branched Chain Amino Acids (BAAC)

Different amino acids make up the protein in the human body. Nine of them belong to the group of essential amino acids, which means that the human body cannot naturally make them. Hence, these are obtained from the foods we eat in our diets.  Out of all the nine essential amino acids, there are three branched-chain amino acids. These include leucine, isoleucine and lastly valine.

When you hear of the word branched-chain, this basically refers to the particular chemical structure which makes up these amino acids. To obtain the branched-chain amino acids, you must eat foods that are rich in protein such as eggs and meat. Additionally, people can take the BCAAs as a dietary supplement.

The foods that naturally contain the branched-chain amino acids

On several occasion, I have come across people who want to know the foods that naturally contain the branched-chain amino acids. Well, you can get the BCAAs from a number of foods. They include;

  • Chickpeas
  • Whole wheat
  • Brown rice
  • Beef, eggs, fish and chicken
  • Lentils
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Whey, milk, dairy products, soy proteins
  • Almonds, cashew nuts and Brazil nuts

The benefits of taking branched-chain amino acids

There are reasons why people feel quite compelled to take the branched-chain amino acids.  It could be for medicinal purposes or simply to reap the benefits that come with these essential amino acids. They can either be taken by mouth in the form of dietary supplements or administered intravenously. On that note, I will briefly detail the benefits associated with the branched-chain amino acids.

Decreased muscle soreness

Have you ever begun a new workout routine, and two days later you experience severe muscle soreness? If yes, then you must have suffered from a condition referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).  It occurs about 24 hours after a workout and can last up to three days. According to the scientists, the root cause of DOMS is likely to be tiny tears which occur in the muscles after a rigorous workout.

There is proof indicating BCAAs can help reduce the severity of DOMS through decreasing the likely muscle damage. Therefore, taking BCAAs before exercising can work to speed up your recovery.

Increases muscle growth

BCAAs are usually used to increase muscle growth. For instance, leucine, which is one of the branched-chain amino acids, creates a pathway in the body that stimulates and ensures complete muscle protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is actually the process of making muscle in the body. However, you will need all the essential amino acids to effectively build muscles and not just the BCAAs alone.

Reduces fatigue

The BCAAs also help to reduce fatigue after rigorous exercises. Exercise-induced fatigue is a common occurrence, and it depends on a couple of things, including intensity of the workout, nutrition level and fitness.  Since the muscles use BCAAs during exercise, the level in the blood decrease and in turn, the levels of the essential amino acid tryptophan increase in the brain.

In the brain, tryptophan is converted to a brain chemical referred to as serotonin that is responsible for the development of fatigue during exercises. The BCAAs also improve mental focus.  With that said, while they may decrease fatigue, they don’t work to improve exercise performance.

Prevent muscle wasting

The BCAAs are shown to help prevent the occurrence of muscle breakdown. Naturally, there is usually a constant break down and synthesis of protein. For that reason, there has to exist a balance between the protein breakdown and synthesis to determine the amount of protein that make up the muscles. If the muscle protein breakdown exceeds its syntheses, muscle wasting occurs.  That’s why it’s vitally important to continue taking BCAAs and other essential amino acids to prevent muscle wasting or slow down its progression.

Beneficial for people with liver diseases

If you’re suffering from liver cirrhosis, there is a huge possibility BCAAs can significantly improve your health. About 50% of the people with cirrhosis are likely to develop poor brain function due to the liver’s inability to remove toxins from the blood.  Taking BCAAs by mouth is likely to improve the liver function and ultimately counter poor brain function caused by cirrhosis.

What are the risks associated with taking branched-chain amino acids?

When you take them over a short period of time, oral supplement of BCAAs are not likely to have any harmful side effects. For some people, it’s safer to receive the branched-chain amino acids intravenously. A healthcare professional should be able to administer by IV.

The common side effects include;

  • Headaches
  • Pain
  • Nausea

There is no surety of the branched-chain amino acids being safe for use during pregnancy. Therefore, stay on the safe side and avoid using them at this time. Also, there is a possibility of the branched-chain amino acids interfering with the blood glucose levels during and even after a surgery.


Before taking BCAA supplements, first of all consult with your doctor. This is especially if you’re already taking some medications or have a pre-existing condition.  The doctor will check for any likely side effects or interactions with other medications. For instance, there might be a risk for the people taking Parkinson’s medication, diabetes medication, thyroid hormone or corticosteroids.

Bottom line

There is no doubt the branched –chain amino acids are a special and useful group of amino acids.  There are several benefits associated with taking BCAA supplements such as building muscle, preventing muscle wasting and decreasing muscle fatigue. However, many people get enough of the branched-chain amino acids from their food. In most cases, you actually don’t need the supplements to get additional benefits.

For most people, it’s better to always have a stocked pantry with all kinds of foods high in BCAAs. However, the problem comes when pests invade your home and begin unceremoniously reaping where they did not sow. Well, don’t suffer in silence when there is an effective solution. Windermere Pest Control is all you need to get rid of any pesky pests within no time.