In mid-December 2010 a study was reported in the online version of the Journal of Nutrition. The results of this study suggest that there is an association between an increased intake of BCAAs (l-leucine, l-isoleucine, and l-valine) and a reduced risk of obesity and becoming overweight.
Over 4,400 non-diabetic men and women from Japan, China, the United Kingdom, and the United States—all between 40 and 59 years old—took part in the research, which was called the International Study of Macro-/Micronutrients and Blood Pressure (INTERMAP) Study. The participants in the study provided the researchers with information regarding their food, beverage, and supplement intake, all of which was analyzed for, among other things, BCAA content.
As part of the study, the researchers noted that 25.3% of the Chinese participants and 26.3% of the Japanese participants were categorized as overweight, far less than the of those from the United Kingdom (69.3%) and the United States (70.3%). Obesity was also less in the Chinese and Japanese research participants, with 1.9% of the Chinese identified as being obese and 3.4% of the Japanese identified as obese. Those figures were significantly lower than the obesity figures for both the United Kingdom participants (22.4%) and the United States (33.3%).
The results of the study? The researchers found that increased intake of BCAAs was associated with a lower adjusted risk of being overweight. For the participants whose intake was among the top 25%, a 30% lower risk of being overweight was noted compared to those participants whose BCAA intake was the lowest. A decreased risk of obesity among both the United Kingdom and United Stated participants was also observed, with a 25% lower risk occurring among participants whose BCAA intake was highest compared to those whose intake was in the lowest percentile.
Two possibilities were discussed in regarding the results that BCAAs may protect against weight gain:
- One of the BCAAs, l-leucine, may increase energy expenditure, stimulate the hormone leptin, and possibly increase the activity of Mamallian Target of Rapamycin (mTOR). As is the case with leptin, mTOR helps regulate energy balance.
- BCAAs may also help reduce impaired glucose tolerance, which contributes to obesity.
While the researches agreed that further studies are necessary, if only to more completely determine a potential/cause relation, they commented that this particular study helps to explain the weight loss effect of increased intake of BCAAs.
There are a number of benefits associated with BCAA supplementation, BCAAs being a primary component of Endurance Amino, Recoverite, and Hammer Whey. Now it appears that we may be able to add protection against weight gain and obesity among those benefits!