BCAAs are the most popular amino acid supplements. They contain:
These 3 amino acids make up to one third of muscle in the body. The body breaks down muscle to get energy, especially during strenuous exercise, to get these amino acids.
BCAAs are converted into 2 other amino acids:
- glutamine and
which are released in large quantities during aerobic exercise. They can also be used directly for fuel, especially when muscle glycogen is depleted.
Foods high in BCAAs:
- Meats: red meat is the highest in BCAAs. Other meats (poultry etc) are high in BCAAs, too because they're primarily protein. Choose lean cuts, chicken breast without the skin etc
- Eggs: they are packed with nutrition and BCAAs, and easy to add to your diet.
- Dairy products are high in BCAAs: low fat cheese, milk, cottage cheese, yogurt, frozen yogurt. Additional dairy options could be: cheese, cream and butter.
- Liquid and powder protein: very popular source, easy to prepare, drink and digest. If you mix your whey protein with milk, you boost the BCAA content of your shake.
Taking BCAA supplements before and during exercise can reduce muscle breakdown. They may also help preserve muscle in athletes on a low carb diet. It will probably not boost your endurance, however taking 6 – 15 gr of BCAAs daily may help improve your recovery.
Side effects: BCAAs are relatively safe because they are normally found in protein in the diet.