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Do BCAA’s help with insulin resistance and weight loss?


By Monica Perry

Branch Chain Amino acids are not only the building blocks of muscles they assist in building red blood cells, energy source during exercise and repairing tissue in the body.   BCAA make up 40% of the free essential amino acids in the blood.  Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are made up of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.  They are called essential because the body can not make them, so there must be supplementation in the form of food or synthetic to get them.

You can certainly get your BCCA’s from foods like chicken, beef or eggs.  The benefit of taking BCAA in supplement form is that it bypasses the liver and goes straight to the bloodstream.  This makes it readily available for energy or protein synthesis (building muscle).

Dieting is naturally catabolic (muscle loss) over time.  The effect of BCAA, especially leucine, allows the body to promote protein synthesis  and limit catabolic actions that cause muscle loss. Catabolic, muscle loss leads to a decrease of metabolism making it harder to lose weight .

Insulin resistance

Insulin is an important role in weight loss.  When you digest carbohydrates, the body will release insulin to get rid of excess glucose( sugar) in the blood stream.  Any excess sugar in the blood will be stored as fat.  When you become insulin resistant muscle, fat, and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin and cannot easily absorb glucose from the bloodstream. As a result, the body needs higher levels of insulin to help glucose enter cells

This is when the need for medication comes in to regulate blood glucose levels.   We call this diabetes.   With the proper diet and exercise routine this can be reversed.

BCAA role in weight loss.

As I mentioned before BCAA prevent muscle loss and promote building lean body tissue( muscle).  Studies have found that BCAA decreased significantly with weight loss.  The correlation being the less BCAA’s you have the more likely you are to burn off muscle tissue.  One study in particular have found a correlation of BCAA and an improvement insulin resistance.

The Study

To study the role of BCCA and insulin resistance, they looked at 1,032 individuals over a 6 month period.  The scientist not only measured weight loss, but  insulin , amino acids, ketones, glucose and other coefficients.

The purpose of the study was to indicate bio markers that would cause the insulin resistance to decrease over time.  Naturally, with weigh loss insulin resistance improves.   For example, a mean weight loss of 5.5 kg in overweight individuals with insulin resistance reduced the incidence of type 2 diabetes by a staggering 58%.  They found this not to be true in all cases of the study, however.  Individuals with weight loss of 22.2 kg, 28.2 g and 18kg respectively, saw a minimal change in insulin resistance.  The linear relationship of weight loss to insulin resistance improvement should be similar.  In these cases, the linear change was not that same.

Of all the bio markers studied they found that the role of BCAA’s played a most significant roll in insulin resistance.   When looking at the BCAA factor levels and weight loss, there was a direct linear relationship of insulin resistance.  Meaning the greater the BCAA level the greater the improvement of insulin resistance and weight loss.  Leading the study to conclude that BCAA supplementation may benefit certain individuals.

Here are some reputable products to help you with your BCAA supplementation.


Shah, S. H., D. R. Crosslin, C. S. Haynes, S. Nelson, C. B. Turer, R. D. Stevens, M. J. Muehlbauer, B. R. Wenner, J. R. Bain, B. Laferrère, P. Gorroochurn, J. Teixeira, P. J. Brantley, V. J. Stevens, J. F. Hollis, L. J. Appel, L. F. Lien, B. Batch, C. B. Newgard, and L. P. Svetkey. “Branched-chain Amino Acid Levels Are Associated with Improvement in Insulin Resistance with Weight Loss.” SpringerLink. Springer-Verlag, 08 Nov. 2011. Web. 06 Apr. 2017.

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