Vegan BCAAs (branched-chain amino acids) are essential for anyone that has cut meat, and dairy out of their diet, yet still wants to work out and grow, or maintain muscle.
Branched-chain amino acids are what proteins are made up of, There are 20 amino acids in all, 11 being non-essential, and 9 being essential.
What does essential and non-essential mean?
- Essential amino acids – Histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine cannot be made naturally by your body, so it is “essential” that you create a nutrition plan that includes foods high in them.
- Non-essential amino acids – Alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamine acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine, and tyrosine are produced naturally by your body, so they are “non-essential” in your nutrition plan.
Why Do You Need BCAAs
Proteins are very important to every cell in your body, protein is known as your body’s building blocks since it’s is used to build, and repair tissue, make enzymes, and hormones. If that wasn’t enough it is the foundation of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
The process that builds and maintains your muscle mass is known as protein synthesis, this happens when you stress your muscle during a workout and cause micro-tears in the fiber of the muscle.
Your body then repairs the damage by building new tissue and cells making your muscles bigger and stronger.
You can see by now why it’s so important to include these in your diet, but what do you do if you’re a vegan and you don’t eat meat and dairy which is where most of your amino acid sources come from?
This article will explain the correct way to research Vegan BCCAs, how you can get them naturally, how are they made, and the benefits of taking them.
Top Ten Rated Vegan BCAAs
- NSF certified
- A multi-source blend of plant-based proteins
- A little pricey, but worth it
- Good for pre and post workouts
- 4 grams of leucine and then a 1 to 1 ratio
- A little chalky and hard to dissolve 100% percent
- In the form of a convenient tablet instead of a powder
- 4 times stronger than other brands
- Competitive price
- The pill is a bit big and can be hard to swallow, you can fix this by breaking it in half.
- A soft gel capsule made without any gelatin is hard to find
- Convenient capsule form
- Mixed reviews on the effectiveness of the product
- No synthetics, only fermented plant-based ingredients
- Taste is off, the watermelon tasted like bubblegum
- Gentle on the stomach due to it being made from fermented foods
- Anti bloating
- One of the cheaper choices
- A very strong smell that can make it tough to swallow
- Good for pre and post workouts
- The highest amount of value per serving than other brands
- Has a healthy ratio of 2.5:1.25:1.25
Has a bad smell, but once you get past that a really good product
- No artificial sweeteners
- Proper 2:1:1 ratio
- Dissolves easily
Not a very sweet taste, a little sour. I liked it but other people may not.
What Are Plant-Based BCAAs
They are BCCA supplements made up of plant-based materials rather than traditional BCAAs that are made of keratin.
They’re for people who want to exclude any type of food that had to have an animal killed in order to eat it, and any type of animal product including eggs and dairy products.
What Are Vegan BCAAs Made From
The majority of them are made from fermented corn, sunflower lecithin, coconut water extract, and sesame seeds. A few still use soy, but since this is a common allergen manufacturer are starting to frown upon using it.
They should always contain a ratio of at least 2:1:1 of Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine.
Are All BCCAs Vegan
Not even close.
Your non-vegan BCAAs are made from Keratin, you know, the same material your nails and hair are made from.
Yes, that’s right.
I know this sounds disgusting, but it actually makes sense. Keratin is basically pure protein and contains all of the amino acids your body needs.
The other products companies use to allow for cheaper manufacturing costs is duck feathers and pigskin. I swear I’m not making this stuff up.
What they all have in common is their by-products of other manufacturing processes which make them very cheap to buy.
Some BCCAs are bad news
You may think this is a good thing because it cuts down on the waste, but it’s not that simple. Due to air pollution, heavy metals and foul water supplies using these types of products in your BCAAs may cause unwanted side effects and disease.
Plus the chemicals used to break down these tough materials are extremely hazardous, and couple that with the possibility of unsafe, unlicensed manufacturing processes, you’re playing Russian roulette by not researching your best options first.
Lots of websites want to e-mail you.
We do, too. Unlike the rest, we’ll send you e-mails you care about: The latest diets, exercises and info that is actually worth a damn.
Do Vegans Need BCAAs
Veganism is considered an extreme diet, due to all of the foods it restricts you from eating.
When you’re not eating such a large part of the food spectrum you’re also going to exclude a lot of vitamins, and minerals that you would normally receive from these foods.
Not eating meat or dairy products can severely diminish the amount of protein that you receive in your diet.
This can be a big problem since protein deficiency can cause…
- Loss of muscle mass – Protein synthesis is the process of your body growing and maintaining your lean muscle mass, once you don’t have enough protein your body will try to find it in other places, your muscle will be the first place it goes.
- Edema – One of the earliest signs of protein deficiency is edema, which is the build-up of fluids in your tissues, normally in your legs and abdomen. This is due to protein controlling the level of serum albumin. Serum albumin is the main protein found in your blood and its main function is to keep the water in your blood through oncotic pressure. when it starts to fail to do this the water starts to accumulate in your body.
- Weak bones – Protein is a big component of what makes up your skeletal system, without it, your bones will become brittle.
- Inhibited growth – I already said how protein is the building block for the body and I wasn’t exaggerating, lack of protein, especially in adolescence, can severely deter normal growth.
- Fatty liver – Protein is responsible for the synthesis of lipoproteins which distribute fats throughout the body. When you don’t have enough protein this process results in fat accumulating around your liver and causing the fatty liver syndrome.
- Skin and hair problems – Have you ever seen a shampoo commercial that brags about being high in proteins, that’s because your hair is made from Keratin which is basically pure protein. When you are protein deficient your hair and nails become weaker.
- Frequent infections – A weak immune system can’t heal your cuts quickly and will have a harder time warding off the bad bacteria that lacerations and bruises cause.
- Increased appetite – Foods high in protein take longer to digest leaving you feeling satiated for extended periods of time. Other foods high in carbs or fat are digested quicker leaving you looking for the next bite to eat.
- Moodiness and forgetfulness – Proteins are made up of amino acids that help control moods by balancing the amount of dopamine and serotonin in your brain. When you have a protein deficiency these levels will drop causing you to feel sad and moody
- Poor immunity – Proteins support the immune system by making your blood rich in white blood cells, white blood cells most notably fight off infections. Proteins also help produce antibodies and cytokines which help kill free radicals.
Benefits Of Taking Vegan BCAAs
- Helps reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) – When you stress your muscle you cause micro-tears in the muscle fiber which also causes muscle soreness 24 to 48 hours later. BCAAs have been recorded to lower creatine kinase, and lactate dehydrogenase, these enzymes actually are responsible for muscle damage.
- Improves your workout – A study done by the national library of medicine shows that when a group is given BCAAs the duration of their exercise routine lasted 17% longer than the group given a placebo. If you’re not as tired during a workout you’ll be able to train with more intensity making your results greater in the end. If your trying to lose weight more intensity will bring a higher heart rate which results in more calories being burned, If you’re trying to build muscle the law of intensity and progression is the most important rule to follow if you want to see any results.
- Increases your metabolism – Studies have shown that weight loss and weight maintenance can be progressed and helped by taking an average of 15 grams of BCAAs per day.
- Increases muscle mass – Amino acids are the building blocks of your muscles and Leucine is one of the most important amino acids. Its role in muscle growth is undeniable, so if you’re not getting enough through natural whole foods then you need to start supplementation.
- Helps your immune system – Protein is digested by your body to help support your immune system, either by being used as a fuel source once the amino acid turns into glutamine or glucose. the other way is by your body pumping protein-enriched white blood cells throughout your system to help fight infections.
- Keeps your hormones balanced – Proteins help maintain adequate productions of chemicals like testosterone, serotonin, and dopamine. when these levels get low you will feel moody, tired, and depressed.
- Lowers your blood sugar levels – BCAAs increase insulin secretion especially, leucine, and isoleucine, they actually make your muscles absorb sugar from your body. Which, in return will drop your blood sugar levels.
- Reduces liver disease – Studies have shown that people with hepatic encephalopathy have seen drops in the severity of the disease by supplementing with BCAAs. However, they didn’t see an improvement in the survival rate.
What Should You Look For In A Vegan BCAA Supplement
- No gelatin by-products – Many manufacturing companies use gelatin as a thickener, but what a lot of people don’t know is that gelatin is made up of animal by-products such as, ground-up animal skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments. These are obviously products that a vegan would want to avoid (or anyone for that manner)
- At least a 2:1:1 Ratio of leucine, isoleucine, and valine – The three branched-chain amino acids you want to see in your product is Leucine, isoleucine, and valine. For the best results, you want a ratio of 2:1:1 in the same order that I just wrote them.
- Plant-based amino acids – You want to find products that use fresh, naturally sourced plant-based ingredients like, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, corn, etc
- Trusted company – Find companies that have been around for a long time that make their ingredients, and manufacturing habits transparent for anyone to see, and most importantly make sure they use 3rd party testing. This is where a company will send its product to a lab that has no affiliation with them in order to show that their product has met all of their promises.
- CEMP facility – This is a title given to manufacturers by the FDA that stands for Current Good Manufacturing Process. This is only given out to companies that meet every regulation of the FDA upholds.
How Do Vegans Get BCAAs Naturally
If you’re looking to receive your BCAAs through natural whole foods you’ll have to create a diet plan that includes Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine.
I’m going to break down the foods into which plant-based choices are highest in each category.
Vegan Foods High In Leucine…
|Type Of Food||Serving Size||Calories|
|Whole oats||1 cup||603|
|Sunflower seeds||half cup||407|
|Sesame seeds||half cup||410|
Vegan Foods High In Isoleucine
|Type Of Food||Serving Size||Calories|
|Lima Beans||1 cup||208|
|Buckwheat Groats||1 cup||568|
|Swiss Chard||10 leafs||94|
|Navy Beans||1 cup||256|
|Adzuki Beans||1 cup||290|
|Kidney Beans||1 cup||227|
|Pumpkin seeds||1 cup||284|
|Mung Bean||1 cup||210|
|Rye Grain||1 cup||569|
Vegan Foods High In Valine
|Type Of Food||Serving Size||Calories|
|White Potato||1 Potato||250|
|Pine nuts||half cup||381|
|Hemp seeds||3 TBSP||166|
|Fave Bean||1 cup||187|
|Lima Bean||1 cup||208|
|Pistachio Nuts||half cup||210|
How many BCAAs Do You Need Per Day
The average daily intake of BCAAs is between 5 and 12 grams per day, but people who are performing strength training routines or high-intensity cardio sessions should try to aim for 10 to 20 grams per day.
My personal recommendation is to take 5 grams 4 times per day, one in the morning, post and pre-workout, and once before bed.
Vegan BCAAs are essential if you’re a practicing vegan in order to receive the nutrients you may be lacking by not eating meat and dairy. It’s possible to still receive the correct amounts of BCAAs through a natural diet, just be careful because a lot the foods high in them are also high in calories.
You don’t need to be a vegan in order to find a good reason to switch from traditional BCAA supplements, duck feathers, animal skin and pig hair was definitely enough for me.