Considering the attention surrounding supplements derived from dairy products – whey and casein, in particular – it’s no surprise that there’s some confusion regarding whether you can get the same benefits from plant-based products. This uncertainty applies to a number of different supplements, too – not just protein shakes and powders. As one of the newer, more advanced types of supplements being used by athletes around the world, BCAAs have begun gaining popularity among those focused on fitness, so if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, it’s reasonable to ask, “Can you get BCAAs from plants?” To find out more about where you can get BCAAs and how they can help improve your workouts, keep reading as the team at aminoVITAL® provides some answers.
Are There BCAAs Made from Plants?
Though they exist in many different foods, BCAAs are found in relatively few plants – which probably doesn’t come as a surprise, given that plants aren’t typically known for their protein content. Also, keep in mind that just because a plant-based food does contain some amount of protein doesn’t mean that it automatically contains BCAAs; few plants are “complete” sources of protein, meaning those that contain all nine essential amino acids. Some of the plant-based foods that can offer you BCAAs include the following:
- Baked beans
- Whole wheat
- Pumpkin seeds
- Almonds and cashews
- Brown rice
While integrating any of these foods into your diet will mean you’re getting some BCAAs, keep in mind that using a supplement may be a more efficient method of obtaining these fitness-boosting nutrients. Granted, most supplements are made with animal products, but two of the aforementioned plant sources of BCAAs are widely used to make BCAA supplements: soy and corn. And while the former is a potential allergen for many people, a corn allergy is rare, so more people may be able to take advantage of corn-based BCAAs than those made from soy.
What Do BCAAs from Plants Do?
For those unfamiliar with it, the term “BCAA” is an acronym for “branched-chain amino acid,” a group that comprises the compounds leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Of the 20 amino acids our bodies need to operate properly, the BCAAs belong to the group of nine called the “essential” amino acids, which refers to amino acids that can’t be made internally by our bodies and so must be obtained from outside sources, making then an “essential” part of our diets. Whether these compounds come from plants or some other type of food doesn’t really matter, so those on vegan or vegetarian diets can still get these important nutrients.
In recent years, BCAAs from plants and other sources have become more popular among those who exercise, thanks to the advantages each of these compounds offers; benefits provided by plant-based BCAAs include the following:
- Leucine is probably the most important BCAA to get from plants, since it’s the amino acid responsible for triggering the process of muscle protein synthesis. This fact means that leucine is critical for the growth and repair of muscle tissues and, therefore, an important amino acid for those looking to build mass and strength. Leucine has the added benefit of providing useful metabolites – the compounds produced when leucine is processed by the body. This includes the compound beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate, which can protect the muscles from being broken down by the body for fuel during periods of intense exercise.
- As an amino acid that can provide an extra dose of energy in the middle of a long workout, isoleucine is almost as important as leucine. This compound works to direct the flow of glucose to the muscles, where it also helps cells turn the substance into energy. In the midst of a lengthy run or hours-long weightlifting session, this function makes isoleucine indispensable for those on a plant-based diet. In addition, this amino acid is thought to hasten recovery, helping you get ready for your next workout faster.
- The final BCAA, valine, serves many roles in the body; the one of greatest relevance to fitness buffs is its ability to help limit damage to muscle tissue during prolonged workouts. The result of this benefit is that valine can reduce the amount of healing that’s needed after exercise and can help preserve existing muscle mass, too.
Other Benefits of BCAAs From Plants
In addition to the obvious appeal to vegans and others who prefer to refrain from consuming animal products, plant-based BCCAs offer a few advantages over traditional supplements, such as whey. For instance, amino acid supplements can take effect much more quickly than those made from whole proteins, since they require far less digestion.
Also, supplements made with BCAAs from plants are typically leaner than your average protein shake or powder; while most popular protein supplements contain significant amounts of calories and sugar, an amino acid supplement like those from aminoVITAL® has much less. For example, our Action mid-workout mix has only 15 calories and no sugar at all, making it a superior choice for building lean muscle and supporting athletic performance in the gym or on the field.
Try the Plant-Based BCAA Supplements Available from aminoVITAL®
While other brands may take their amino acids from animals, aminoVITAL® offers BCAAs derived from vegetables through a patented fermentation process. This allows us to provide top-quality amino acids that can be enjoyed by everyone, including vegetarians and vegans. Whether you’re looking to switch to a more efficient product or you simply want to explore your options, take a look at the supplements offered by aminoVITAL®. To learn more, visit us online or call (888) 264-6673 today.