Keto Amino Acid Supplements: BCAAs [Why You Need Them]

  • Date: April 27, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

Amino acids are a molecule combined to form proteins. The body requires the desired amount of amino acids to break down food easily. But what are the benefits of amino acids? Or what would happen if your body had too much or too little amino acid? Do you need keto amino acid supplements? You can find answers to these questions here.

What are Amino Acids, aka BCAAs?

BCAA stands for a branched-chain amino acid. It represents a group of amino acids, including isoleucine, leucine, and valine. 

Amino acids are building blocks needed for a body’s strength, structure, and function. Two types of amino acids are present in the body, i.e., non-essential and essential. 

Our body produces 13 non-essential amino acids naturally in the body. In contrast, nine essential amino acids come from supplements and food items. 

A balanced level of amino acids in the body is responsible for: 

  • Increasing muscle growth 
  • Decreasing muscle soreness 
  • Reducing exercise fatigue 
  • Preventing muscle wasting 
  • Benefiting people with liver disease 

The best food source for BCAAs include: 

Food Serving size BCAAs
Beef, round 3.5 ounces 6.8 gms 
Chicken breast3.5 ounces 5.88 gms 
Whey protein powder1 scoop 5.5 gms 
Protein powder1 scoop 5.5 gms
Canned tuna3.5 ounces 5.2 gms 
Salmon 3.5 ounces 4.9 gms 
Turkey breast 3.5 ounces 4.6 gms 
Eggs 2 eggs 3.28 gms 
Parmesan cheese ½ cups 4.5 gms 

Why May You Need Supplements when Eating a Keto Diet?

If you’re new to keto and want a bit more information, check out our keto beginners guide.

As a quick summary, if you need it, the keto (also known as the ketogenic diet) is a low-carb, high-fat diet (LCHF).

The whole concept of the keto diet is that your body transitions from burning glucose, in simple terms, sugars or carbohydrates, to burning fat as its primary fuel source.

For a keto diet, people will restrict their macros to eating;

  • 70% of their calories are from fat
  • 25% from protein
  • 5% from carbohydrates

Sticking to these macros for a period of time will put your body into a state of ketosis. Ketosis is when your body has transitioned from burning carbohydrates as its primary fuel source to burning fat for fuel. It is at this point that you will start to see and feel the benefits of the keto diet.

It is the role of the liver to convert amino acids into small amounts of glucose. This process is called glucogenesis. This is when ketone bodies (ketones) are created.

Eventually, your body will become what is known as ‘fat adapted‘. In simple terms, this means that your body is accustomed to burning fat as its primary fuel source and it will function this way as its default setting.

There are a lot of new terms and abbreviations that you may come across, sometimes it can feel like a new language that you need to learn. In order to help you out and keep you on the right track, we have created a keto terms and keto abbreviations guide, bookmark these to make your keto journey easier.

Some people can be put off the keto diet because of the side effects, however, these are only short-lived and the health benefits of keto far outweigh the side effects.

There is no doubt that the process of getting into ketosis and remaining there is a massive change to the way your body is used to functioning.

Supplements may be able to assist your body with this transition and speed up your journey to your health goals.

Keto Amino Acid Supplements: Why Do You Need Them?

The body needs keto amino acids to maintain a balance between human muscle and atrophy. You can increase nitrogen supply to your body by adding supplements to your diet. This way, you can also maintain amino acids level in your skeletal muscles.

Here’s why your body needs amino acids:

  • Muscle Function: The body needs to have a balanced amino acid level to offer strength and support muscle development. The amino acid also helps maintain a balance between human muscle growth and atrophy. 
  • Sports Performance: Athletes regularly consume amino acids and a high protein diet. If you consume amino acids right after or before exercise, your muscle growth can be increased. In addition, the proper level of amino acids in the body also helps in the exercise recovery period. 
  • Blood Glucose Levels: Taking amino acids supplements is beneficial for blood sugar levels. People with type 2 diabetes have reported seeing a decrease in their blood sugar without impacting their insulin levels. But the long-term effect of amino acid supplements on blood sugar is not clear. 
  • Skin Conditions: Regular consumption of amino acid supplements is also known to improve the overall skin condition.

What Are Ketogenic Amino Acids?

A form of amino acids is ketogenic amino acids that can be broken down to form ketone bodies. Ketogenic amino acids are known to be degraded from pyruvate into acetyl-CoA in the citric acid cycle. 

The ketogenic amino acids are then catabolized into acetyl-CoA and acetoacetate. After that, it breaks down into Acetoacetate, Acetone, and β-hydroxybutyrate (three ketone bodies). 

The ketone bodies are water-soluble. When the glucose level drops in the body, they provide energy through ketogenesis. The ketogenic amino acids are introduced to the body following the ketogenic metabolic pathway. 

Later ketogenic amino acids degrade into water-soluble ketone bodies that can be easily transported to get energy. Lysine and leucine are examples of ketogenic amino acids. 

#1 Lysine

Lysine is an exclusive amino acid that plays an essential role in metabolizing fatty acids into energy. This ketogenic amino acid is found in meats and fish. It helps in lowering cholesterol levels, assists in the formation of collagen, and aids in absorbing calcium. 

#2 Leucine

Leucine is another ketogenic amino acid that works with isoleucine for producing energy in the muscles. It also promotes protein synthesis. It is found nuts, and beef. 

What Will Happen If You Have Too Few Amino Acids on Keto?

If you have low amino acids in your body on keto, you might experience seizures, lethargy, and hypotonia. It can also include signs related to hypoglycemia. 

Usually, few amino acids in keto result from poor diet, stress, and incomplete breakdown of proteins in the digestive system. Inherited abnormalities in the biochemical mechanisms can also result in few amino acids. 

What Will Happen If You Have Too Many Amino Acids on Keto?

If the body has too much amino acid, it can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, changes in eating patterns and bloating.

During keto, the high amino acid in the body can put extra pressure on the kidney to perform harder. In addition, it can lead to an unhealthy drop in blood pressure.

Are Keto Amino Acid Supplements Safe

For most people, amino acid supplements are considered safe. But one can avoid consuming the supplements if they get enough protein in their diet. 

For people of a certain age, amino acid supplements offer more benefits. Before consuming amino acid supplements, you can consult a medical professional to understand your dietary needs.

For more information on the vitamins and supplements on a keto diet, check out our guidance article. It will take you through what supplements you may need on the keto diet, and which you are not likely to need.

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