Non-essential and essential branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)

(BCAAs) are the most broken down protein forms possible. There are 9 essential amino acids, vital for good health, weight loss, muscle building, and overall metabolic maintenance.

The difference between non-essential and essential amino acids is that the 9 essential BCAAs can’t be made by the body, which means you need outside nutrition, supplements, and healthy foods that are high in protein to get your amino acid requirements for the day

There’s a lot of skepticism surrounding the use of BCAAs and their effects on long-term health.


A branched-chain amino acid can be defined as (BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS), an amino acid with an aliphatic side-chain with a branch (this is a middle carbon atom attached to three or more carbon atoms).  There are two categories of branched-chain amino acids: Proteinogenic and proteinogenic. However, this study will focus on proteinogenic branched-chain amino acids. These proteinogenic branched-chain amino acids are divided into three: Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. They will be treated in full detail later on as they are important and among the nine essential amino acids needed by the human body. They account for thirty-five percent of the essential amino acids in muscle proteins and forty-percent of the performed acids needed by mammals.


Branched-chain amino acids are often abbreviated as BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS, and like I have said earlier, in the proteinogenic category, there are three types, namely: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. And in the Non-proteinogenic BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDSs category, we have the 2-aminoisobutyric acid. They all have their respective functions in the body.

Let’s critically look at each of the types of proteinogenic types of amino acids:


Valine is among the essential amino acids needed by the human body. It is aliphatic and tremendously hydrophobic and related to leucine. It acts as a stimulant. Valine can be found in almost all proteins, especially in the inner spherical proteins facilitating the three-dimensional structure. Valine is responsible for retaining mental strength, coordination of the muscles, and emotional calm. Valine can be gotten from foods like soy, cheese, meats, and fish: and vegetables. Valine supplements can be used for muscle growth, repair of the tissues, and energy.


Leucine is not left out in the list of essential amino acids. It also signals the synthesis of proteins. After incubation for about an hour, it can quash glucose uptake into a cell, since it can act as a stimulant. It is responsible for regulating blood sugar levels, growth and repair of muscle and bone tissue, growth hormone production, and wound healing. After stress or severe trauma, it prevents the breakdown of muscle proteins and may benefit people suffering from phenylketonuria. Leucine can be gotten from many foods, and its deficiency is uncommon.


Isoleucine is also among one of the essential amino acids needed by the human body. It is famous for promoting the uptake of glucose by the muscles. It can secondarily reduce gluconeogenesis of amino acids. It has various physiological functions, such as helping wound healing, decontamination of nitrogenous wastes, stimulating immune function, and promoting several hormones. It is essential for the formation of hemoglobin and the regulation of blood sugar and energy level.  Isoleucine can be gotten from meats, fish, cheese, eggs, and most seeds and nuts.


Have I ever mentioned that we have twenty different amino acids that form the thousands of different proteins found in the body? Well, I hope you haven’t forgotten about the scope of this article; we’re dealing with the essential branched-chain amino acids. There are several health benefits of branched-chain amino acids, but we’ll focus on their major benefits.

Decreases physical and mental fatigue

Several researchers have proven that Branched-chain amino acids tend to decrease physical (or exercise fatigue) and mental fatigue or tiredness, as seen in the patients studied.

Reduces Muscle soreness

Researchers suggest that BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS can reduce the soreness of the muscles after exercise. They termed this soreness as ‘delayed onset muscle soreness’ (DOMS), and it is believed that it occurs twelve to twenty-four hours after exercise or workout. From our understanding of the types of BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS, we can assume BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS decreases the muscle’s damage, and we’ll be right as researchers have proven it. 

Increases muscle growth

It has been discovered that BCCA enhances the growth of the muscles, and thus it is popularly used. From our understanding of BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS Leucine, we learned that leucine creates a pathway that speeds up the synthesis of protein, and this is also the process of making muscles. However, to get the best results from BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS, the body needs all the essential amino acids.

Maintains normal blood sugar level

Earlier on, we learned how leucine and isoleucine act like a stimulant and are responsible for controlling the normal sugar level by quashing glucose uptake into the cells. Surprisingly, two studies have proven that leucine and isoleucine may facilitate insulin production and thus help the muscles in dealing with glucose and finally maintain the normal sugar level.

Enhances fat loss

This might sound shocking to some people as opposed to weight gain. A study published in 2011 in the international journal of nutrition showed that subjects who consumed a daily BCCA’s fifteen grams had a thirty percent lower risk of obesity or weight gain than those who consumed twelve grams. This implies that BCCA can assist in the loss of fat.

Beneficial to patients with liver diseases

BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS might improve people’s health from cirrhosis—this is a chronic disease that makes the liver not function normally. It has been estimated that half of the total number of people suffering from cirrhosis will develop hepatic encephalopathy, which is said to be the brain’s none function that occurs when the liver cannot remove toxins from the blood. Let me remind you that isoleucine is responsible for decontaminating or removing nitrogenous wastes. Hepatic encephalopathy causes confusion, coma, and even worst, lack of consciousness. Several studies have proven that BRANCHED CHAIN AMINO ACIDS increases liver functions and prevents further complications.


So far, we have learned the meaning of branched amino acids, their types, and how essential they are to our health. Some people might take a break and call it a day, and that will be very bad because we aren’t done. As there are benefits of amino acids, there are also side effects of branched amino acids, which should be considered as though our life depends on it. When branched amino acids are consumed in foods, it can be found in, there should be little or no side effects.  When branched-chain amino acids are taken by mouth appropriately, there should be side effects to occur. The most popular of these side effects are fatigue and loss of coordination, stomach problems, including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach bloating. In uncommon cases, branched-chain amino acids might cause high blood pressure, headache, or skin whitening.

Whole proteins should not be substituted for branched-chain amino acids

Some people will abandon whole proteins or consume fewer proteins because they believe that branched-chain amino acids are more nutritious. Consuming a whole protein source can go a long way in improving absorption.

The evidence and effectiveness of Branched-chain amino acids are mixed.

I know that some people will grin over this one. While all the studies on branched-chain amino acids can be correct in some respects, we should be noted that the side effect of branched-chain amino acids varies with the individual. For instance, not all studies show that they increase fatigue. And some studies show that branched-chain amino acids may not enhance the growth of the muscles.

People suffering from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are advised to desist from taking branched-chain amino acids.

This is very important because taking branched-chain amino acids can cause many problems. Over time, using branched-chain amino acids with patients suffering from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has been linked with lung failure and a higher death rate.  I’d like to emphasize this again. Taking If you have ALS, do not use branched-chain amino acids until more is known. There’s an uncommon congenital disorder called maple syrup urine disease when the body cannot effectively process branched-chain amino acids.

Pregnant and breast-feeding mothers should desist from taking branched-chain amino acids

Since there is not enough trustworthy information about the safety of taking branched-chain amino acids, pregnant and breast-feeding mothers should desist from taking branched-chain amino acids.

The use of branched-chain amino acids with alcohol is dangerous

Taking branched-chain amino acids with alcohol is hazardous to the health as it can cause liver diseases. From studies, it has been connected with liver disease, which leads to hepatic encephalopathy.

Branched-chain amino acids cause low blood sugar in infants

 Ingestion of one of the branched-chain amino acids, leucine, has been said to lower blood sugar in infants forming a condition known as idiopathic hypoglycemia. This indicates they have low blood sugar, but the cause is unknown. A few research proposes leucine causes the pancreas to release insulin, and this lowers blood sugar.

Branched-chain amino acids should be avoided before and after surgery

Research has shown that branched-chain amino acids may affect the blood sugar levels, which can interfere with blood sugar control during surgery and post-operation. It is advisable to stop using branched-chain amino acids at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.


BCAA Dosage?

Do you know that during an exercise, you could be cutting calories? And your body will be in what is called a state of catabolism. This implies that the amount of tissue, fats, muscles, and other molecules will be broken down within the body.

BCAA powder is a supplement extracted from branched-chain amino acids made up of leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which we have learned so far are among the essential amino acids. As I have stressed so far, you need to know how to take BCCA, when to take it, and what daily dose to take.

How to take BCAA? 

BCAA supplements usually come in two forms: tablets and BCAA powder. They can be taken thrice daily depending on the serving size and the concentration (so it’s advisable for you to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions). The powder can be dissolved in water and used as a sports drink during the workout. Everyone knows that tablets are usually swallowed whole with water. BCAA can also be taken before or after a workout provided that the recommended daily dose is not exceeded. 

How much BCAA should be taken?

I have heard so many people ask this question, and this is why I’ll give a simple answer. The truth is that it’s hard to provide an exact dosage that is suitable for everyone on the planet. Research suggests that 0.03-0.05g/kg body weight per hour or 2.4g per hour during exercise after a workout. However, it’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and not try to exceed the recommended daily dose.

In conclusion, the advantages of regular and adequate intake of branch chain amino acids to us as an entity and the general population can’t be overemphasized. You can spend the whole day thinking about why it is important to supplement our diet. However, numerous diseases in our society at large occur due to inadequate intake of these supplements because they are missing in our diet. With the adequate intake of this supplement, all these diseases can be reduced in our society. Therefore, it’s crucial and mandatory that regular intake and adequate intake diet rich in branch chain amino acids should be encouraged in religious, educational, and commercial institutions.


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