Foods Containing Branched Chain Amino Acid

Branched chain amino acids are involved in your body’s regulation of protein metabolism, body composition and weight loss. The branched chain amino acids, or BCAAs, are so called because they each have a carbon chain that branches off from the amino acid’s main chain, or backbone. There are three BCAAs-- leucine, isoleucine and valine.


Leucine Foods

Leucine can be found in higher concentrations in food than the other BCAAs, according to Eric R. Braverman’s book, “The Healing Nutrients Within.” The ratio is highest in pork, with 7 to 8 g leucine per serving compared to 3 to 4 g valine and isoleucine combined. One cup of wheat germ has 1.6 g leucine compared to 1 g of the other two combined. A cup of milk has 800 mg leucine and 500 mg valine and isoleucine combined. Other good sources of leucine include poultry, red meats, dairy products, beans and brown rice. Leucine is essential for growth because it stimulates protein synthesis in your muscles.


Isoleucine is found in high amounts in cheese and relatively high amounts in nuts and wheat germ, according to “Staying Healthy With Nutrition,” by Elson M. Haas and Buck Levin. Isoleucine helps in energy production in your body.


Valine, in fact, is found in most foods and is an essential part of many proteins. It can spare glucose in your body due to the fact that it can be metabolized to make energy. You’ll find valine in cottage cheese, turkey, wild game, sausage and duck. To a lesser degree it’s in avocado, granola, egg, milk and rolled oats. Isoleucine and valine are found together in relatively high amounts in soy protein and nuts; nuts and soy flour also are good sources of leucine. Lentils, chickpeas, chicken, rye and liver are good sources of valine and isoleucine as well.


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