General Health, Sports Nutrition

Which Branched-Chain Amino Acids are Essential?

Branched-Chain Amino Acids

You may have heard people talk about branched-chain amino acids. However, you might not know all of the important details about them. You will typically hear them talked about by people who are in the fitness industry. Strength and conditioning coaches are people who often praise the effects that branched-chain amino acids can have on the body. Using branched-chain amino acid supplements has become very common for athletes on both the professional and amateur levels. Many people take them in order to improve their strength, recover much faster, and get a larger amount of muscle mass that is lean. Which branched-chain amino acids are essential? Here is some more info that will help you answer this question.

What are branched-chain amino acids?

Branched-Chain Amino AcidsIt is important for you to have a complete understanding of what branched-chain amino acids are and how they can benefit the human body. There are 22 different amino acids that are considered standard. These are all essential for the proper performance of almost all biological processes in the human body. Nine of these fall into the category of essential amino acids. The reason they are considered to be essential is because of the fact that they are not able to be created by your body. Therefore, you will need to acquire them from eating various foods. However, there are only three in this group of nine that are considered to be branched-chain amino acids. These three are known as valine, isoleucine, and leucine. These all are enormously important to your body. Branched-chain amino acids are not oxidized in the liver. Instead, they receive their oxidation in the tissue of your muscles.


Valine is utilized during the process of protein biosynthesis. Some of the foods that can be consumed in order for the body to acquire valine are legumes, soy products, meat, beans, and items from the dairy category. It is generally a protein component when it is consumed. Valeric acid is where valine gets its name. The valerian plant contains this acid within its roots.


The tissue of the muscles and the liver use leucine. It is also prominently used in the adipose tissue. The amount of leucine that is typically used in both of these tissue types is six times more than what is used within the liver. Leucine is a dietary amino acid. This means that it has the ability to cause the synthesis of muscle protein. Studies have shown that leucine has also been able to successfully reduce the time it takes for muscles to degrade. It does this by speeding up the synthesis of proteins in the muscles.


This is both a ketogenic and glucogenic amino acid. The nutritional sources that you will be able to find it in will tend to vary greatly. Fish are known to store vast quantities of isoleucine. It should be noted that animals are not capable of producing it. They can only store it. Lamb, chicken, and turkey are other animals that can be eaten in order to acquire this branched-chain amino acid. People who do not eat meat will be able to get their required amount of isoleucine by consuming cheese, seaweed, soy protein, and eggs.

What is the right amount of branched-chain amino acids to consume?

Branched-Chain Amino AcidsThere is no one answer to this question. The amount that will have the most significant impact on you will depend on your particular body chemistry. Studies have shown that a person can take as little as three grams every day and still experience results that are quite outstanding. There have also been people who have consumed 50 grams in one day and they reported no problems with the results they received. Factors such as the sport you are training for, gender, and body mass will play a role in determining the proper amount that you should consume. A person’s age will also be a factor that must be taken into consideration.

When should you take branched-chain amino acid supplements?

Branched-Chain Amino AcidsThe type of training session you are about to engage in will often determine the right time for your supplements to be taken. You will also need to consider how long your training session will be.  Pill supplements should be taken before you start. You can also take pill supplements while your workout is in progress. Ingesting a liquid meal after you are finished working out that consists of protein, branched-chain amino acids, and carbs can drastically help your body’s recovery process.