In order to rebuild and grow new cells, the body needs the building blocks of protein: amino acids. There are twenty amino acids in total, eleven of which are made in the body (non-essential) and nine that must come from our diet or supplements (essential). The Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are a group of just three essential amino acids: Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine.
The most common use is for muscle loss prevention, but the potential beneﬁts go beyond as BCAAs can play several roles in the body.
The branched-chain amino acid Leucine plays a direct role in appetite suppression. Leucine stimulates mTOR, which is a growth factor for muscles. Supplementation with leucine plays a role in the brains’ detection of nutrient availability. As mTOR levels increase, the brain senses that nutritional needs have been met and signals of satiety are sent to stop eating more.
All three BCAAs perform individual and collective roles. Besides being necessary for protein production, they are also an important fuel source for these cells. Isoleucine increases levels of β-defensin, an antimicrobial compound. Leucine supports the body’s general immune health and how it adapts to pathogens. Valine increases dendritic cell function which sounds the alarm and signals the presence of toxic substances in the body.
* Caution: Consult a health care practitioner prior to use if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, if you have liver or kidney disease, or if you have been instructed to follow a low protein diet.