BCAA’s: What’s the hype?
Lately, I’ve been receiving a lot of questions about BCAA’s. And more specifically about all the BCAA supplements. First, let’s talk about what BCAA’s are?
There are 20 different amino acids that make up all the different proteins in the human body. Nine of these 20 are essential. Which means our body cannot make these on its own and it has to receive them from what we eat. Of those nine, there are three that are considered branched-chain. And they are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are particularly important for muscle health, most notably, leucine.
The hype is that these are the only ones that are necessary for muscle health! This is just simply not true. Your muscles require all amino acids and all 9 essential amino acids in order to rebuild and repair. The idea of isolating the BCAA’s as the only ones we truly need is just simply incorrect. We don’t need a supplement to make sure we are receiving them. And, as mentioned above, leucine is the main one for muscle health and repair to make sure we are getting plenty of. Luckily leucine is in many different protein sources. Check out this list of Leucine Rich Foods to see how much leucine you eat in a day! Leucine requirements per day are around 17mg per pound of body weight. That translates to around 2.2gms for a 130# person. This is very easy to reach!
Far too often I see people making eating and recovering from a workout way more difficult than it needs to be! Be careful of supplement’s “absolute claims”. There can be specific populations in specific situations where these may be beneficial. But for the general population with access to such a variety of food, this isn’t one of those situations!
What is important is that we are eating our protein throughout the day. A general rule of thumb is about 1.2-2gms of protein per kg of body weight (depending on your goals). We require protein at each meal and preferably at most snacks. Our body utilizes amino acids in small doses spread throughout the day versus in large doses less often. So do not be so concerned with what amino acids you are consuming, with as much as working on eating foods with all the amino acids throughout the day.
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Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
Nicole is recognized state-wide and nationally as a Registered Dietitian and is also a Certified dietitian through the state of Wisconsin. She is also a Board Certified Sports Dietitian and a Certified Personal Trainer and Physical Fitness Instructor.
Nicole’s areas of expertise include: Wellness and lifestyle coaching, weight management, behavior modification, eating disorders, vegetarian lifestyles, gluten-free living, sports nutrition, recipe and menu design and development.