Of the nine essential amino acids (histidine, valine, isoleucine, leucine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, methionine, and lysin), three of them stand out even further: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These are known as branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs. BCAAs are essential because they stimulate muscle protein synthesis, aka muscle growth, and prevent muscle wasting or muscle breakdown.
Why is muscle mass significant? Because when you increase muscle mass, you boost your resting metabolism, and that makes your body burn more calories which is especially helpful for people trying to lose weight.
In other words, eating protein looks like this:
Eat protein > build muscle > burn more calories while resting
Burning calories brings me to another significant point regarding protein. Your body will “heat up” when you eat protein (this is known as the thermic effect). This happens because the body works harder to digest protein. (This explains why some people experience “the meat sweats” when eating high amounts of meat.) The body uses more energy to digest protein than it uses to digest other macronutrients. In fact, it’s possible to burn 30 percent of your protein calories just while digesting them (that is if the protein comes from lean protein foods).
In other words, eating protein also looks like this:
Eat protein > create heat > burn calories during digestion
From these two examples, we see that eating protein (especially from BCAAs) causes the body to burn more calories both while resting and eating. Therefore protein should play an essential part in any weight loss strategy.
That being said, do not begin taking a high-dose BCAA supplement or dramatically increase your dietary intake without first consulting your doctor. In one study a high-sugar or a high-fat diet with BCAAs induced anxiety-like behavior in rats, which was not reversed with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. (1)
Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. None of the information on this site is intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. All information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and are not intended to replace the advice of a medical doctor. Stacy Mal is not a doctor and does not give medical advice, prescribe medication, or diagnose illness. Stacy is a certified health coach, journalist, and independent Plexus ambassador. These are her personal beliefs and are not the beliefs of Plexus Worldwide or any other named professional. If you have a medical condition or health concern, it is advised that you see your physician immediately. It is also recommended that you consult your doctor before implementing any new health strategy or taking any new supplements. Results may vary. Excerpt taken from Rebuilding Your Temple: Blueprints for True and Lasting Health by Stacy Mal References (1) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23249694