Branched-chain amino acid drink refers to the beverage that contains three amino acids – leucine, isoleucine, and valine. It’s commonly taken to improve muscle growth, exercise, reduce fatigue during exercise, and aid in weight loss.
What are BCAAs?
BCAAs are essential because they can’t be produced by your body and you have to take them from foods.
What are the benefits and functions of BCAAs?
- They make up 35 to 40% of the essential amino acids in your body and about 14 to 18% are found in muscles.
- Your body can use BCAA as building blocks for muscle and protein.
- You can use BCAAs to decrease fatigue in exercise by reducing serotonin production in the brain.
- They may function as regulators of blood sugar levels by preserving sugar stores in muscle and liver and stimulating cells to get sugar from the bloodstream.
What are the sources of BCAAs?
- Baked beans
- BCAA supplements that include drinks
- Brazil nuts
- Dairy products
- Lima beans
- Milk proteins
- Pumpkin seeds
- Soy proteins
- Whole wheat
What are the BCAA drinks?
BCAA drinks are supplements available in powder or liquid form. Here are some BCAA drinks found in the market.
- Core series BCAA Glutamine by Transparent Labs
- Scivation XTend
- Post JYM Active Matrix
- Muscle Pharm BCAA – 3:1:2 Energy
- BSN Amino X
- Xtend RAW BCAAs
Labdoor ranked the following BCAA drinks based on quality scores
- Do Vitamins BCAA – 86.6
- Bulk supplements BCAA – 88.3
- Muscle Pharm BCAA – 87.6
- MyProtein BCAA – 87.6
- Now Sports BCAA powder 87.4
- Sheer Strenght – Labs Sheer Strenght BCAA 87.4
- Optimum Nutrition – Instantized BCAA 5000 87.3
And it provided the low scores on the following drinks
- Legends Body Sports Smart Recovery 61.0
- USP Labs Ultra – Micronized Modern BCAA+ 60.8
- Ultra Champ – BCAA Powerflex Recovery 59.7
Muscle pursuits site ranked the following drinks:
- Battle ready fuel
- Scivation Xtend HKydrasport
- Evluton Nutrition BCAA Energy
- BCAA Lean energy
- MP Essentials BCAA
- Scivation Xtend Raw BCAA
- BCAA5000 Pills
What are the effects of Branched-Chain Amino Acid Drink?
BCAA drink as a supplement may or might have these effects.
- BCAA may aid in reducing muscle soreness after intense exercise – The three amino acids do this by lowering lactate dehydrogenase and creatine kinase – enzymes found in muscle damage. This process may increase recovery and protect against muscle damage.
- BCAA might in aid in lowering muscle soreness more than that of placebo – A study found that BCAA lowered the muscle soreness by 33%.
- May lower levels of blood sugar – Scientists thought that leucine and isoleucine can increase the secretion of insulin by causing muscles to get sugar from the blood, thus reducing levels of blood sugar.
- May raise muscle mass – Research shows that BCAA activates the enzymes involved in muscle building. Another study showed that BCAA supplements may increase muscle mass if they make up higher portions of leucine over isoleucine and valine. On the other hand, there’s no present evidence that BCAA supplements are beneficial compared to the consumption of soy protein and whey.
- May enhance weight loss – According to some studies, people who took 15 grams of the supplements from diet daily may get a 30% lower risk of being obese than people who take 12 grams of supplements daily. It can be noted the participants who drunk a few BCAA also used fewer 20 grams of protein daily – a factor that may influence results. Second, another study showed that weightlifters who consumed 14 grams BCAAs daily lost more 1% of body fat during the 8 weeks observational study compared to the group who drunk 28 grams whey protein daily. However, this study comprises flaws as they give little info about the supplement composition and the succeeding diet – factors that might influence outcomes.
- May reduce liver disease complications – Hepatic encephalopathy is a liver complication that can lead to coma and confusion. A review reported BCAA could bring more benefits compared to other supplements in reducing HE severity. On the other hand, another study reported that BCAAs didn’t lower the complications such as gastric bleeding and infections nor it improved the survival rate. A review report about patients on liver surgery reported that BCAA cocktails may reduce hospital stay and the risk of liver complications.
What are the recommended dosages?
According to a 1985 report, the world health organization recommends 34 mg per kilo of BCAA of body weight daily. In contrast, research reported that daily BCAA requirements could be up to 144 mg per kg/ body weight daily. People who are taking a protein-rich diet won’t likely need supplements. Further, most experts agree that protein supplementation must be 1.3 to 1.6 grams/kg of body weight every day for athletes undergoing strength training.
Male: Minimum grams of BCAAs daily
Female: Minimum 12 grams BCAAs daily
Are there any risks involved in taking too many BCAAs drinks?
Apart from the potential effects of other ingredients included in BCAA powder drinks, a study from October 2017 Journal Oncotarget studied the link between the increased cardiometabolic risks and BCAA circulation. The researchers made a test involving people from ages 21 to 110.
They concluded that there are quantifiable risks in adults but such risks didn’t show in older people. Second, a test published by the Diabetes journal from July 2018 showed that the BCAA level increased raised the risks of cardiovascular disease and heart failure. This risk is regardless of the person’s weight although initially, obesity was cited as the one causing the link between heart disease and BCAA levels.
What are the pros and cons of protein shakes?
The pros are that BCAA drinks which are a protein shake offer a quick supplement without the need for you to make homemade protein shakes. They could also offer a balanced amount of protein shake servings.
The cons are that it may contain artificial sweeteners, fat, and caffeine that could cause a problem to your diet and health. Second BCAA drinks can be expensive for many people. You may only get a few grams or half a kilo of a bottle per fewer hundreds of dollars.
The Bottom Line
BCAA drinks or ready to use powders are heavily marketed on the internet. It’s important to avoid taking too much protein supplements if you’re already taking protein from the natural sources. It’s helpful to follow the recommended dosage daily.