You hear about BCAAs all the time at the gym and always contemplating taking them; however, are BCAA supplements safe? Supplements as a whole are controversial in their own aspect, but what does the research say on branched-chain amino acids in the form of supplements.
In today’s article, we’ll be discussing the risks, if any, that come with taking branched-chain amino acid supplements. Not even the people taking BCAA supplements know exactly what risks they’re running, so we’ll be clearing that up today.
What are BCAAs?
Let us first discuss what exactly BCAAs are in terms of composition. First off, BCAAs are short for branched-chain amino acids. This bunch of amino acids is categorized separately from the rest of the amino acids due to their effects on body composition, specifically lean body mass.
Out of the 20 amino acids for the human body, branched-chain amino acids make up three, including leucine, valine, and isoleucine. The three branch chain amino acids are also part of the essential amino acids humans have to consume since they cannot produce on their own. (1✔)
Out of the three, the main BCAA is leucine since that’s where the bulk of the benefits will be coming from. As the most researched and investigated BCAA, leucine is looked at as the desired amino acid due to its effects on lean muscle mass and insulin levels.
The question at hand here is around the subject of the supplement’s safety. Are there any risks people run when consuming BCAAs? Generally, taking BCAA supplements is quite safe without side effects for many people.
Research has been conducted on upper-level intakes of BCAAs, around 15-35 grams, and still, the supplement proves to be quite safe. A normal sedentary person does not require anywhere near that many branched-chain amino acids, around 5-12 grams. (2✔) (3✔)
It’s safe to say that BCAAs are quite safe given all the research put into them and the lack of side effects found. It’s typical for heavily researched supplements, like creatine and BCAAs, to have little to no side effects.
Should You Even Take BCAA Supplements?
Another question brought up after, or even before, the discussion of BCAA safety is the reason for taking it. Is investing in a BCAA supplement worth it in the long run, or is it a waste of money?
To put it simply, you could definitely be investing your money in other supplements when it comes to BCAAs. The fact of the matter is that BCAA does also come naturally in whole foods that can be easily incorporated into most people’s diets. Some of these foods include:
You may be realizing that you already consume these foods in your daily diet. If that’s the case, then your branch-chain amino acid needs are more than sufficient with these whole foods. You only need between 5-12 grams, and each one of these foods provides just about that. (2✔)
Even other supplements that aren’t labeled BCAAs contain all the branched-chain amino acids. Take, for example, whey protein powder, a protein powder derived from cow’s milk. Since milk is a complete protein, a protein containing all nine essential amino acids, whey protein is going to have all the BCAAs.
In conclusion, are BCAA supplements safe? The research and the studies show that, without a doubt, branch-chain amino acid supplements are quite safe. Little to no side effects have been documented with the consumption of the supplement.
However, compared to other supplements, BCAAs simply don’t stack up as versatile as, say, whey protein. If you’d like to invest in a supplement, BCAAs might not be the best when there are plenty of products that are worth the bang for your buck.
Got any questions? Leave them down below, along with comments you may have!