Amino acids are substances which are vital to human health. In the body, amino acids are involved in the synthesis of protein, needed by every cell in order to function properly.
There are 20 amino acids; 10 of them can be manufactured within the body, but the other 10, known as essential amino acids, must be sourced from the diet and consumed regularly.
Branched chain amino acids are three essential amino acids which have a particular chemical structure: valine, leucine and isoleucine. Branched chain amino acids are often taken as supplements by athletes and sportspeople, because of the role they play in reducing fatigue and aiding muscle recovery.
Leucine has been shown to help increase muscle mass, and it can also either raise or lower blood sugar, depending on the circumstances. Isoleucine increases the uptake and usage of glucose during exercise. Valine appears to have a similar but lesser effect to both of the others, and is usually taken in a combination mix of all three branched chain amino acids.
Branched chain amino acid supplements are typically available in either powder or capsule format.