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Branched-Chain Amino Acids - Side Effects and Cons

Updated on February 24, 2014

<< Part 4 - Research Proven Benefits <<

Now that we’ve gone over all the benefits that can be attained from supplementing with branched-chain amino acids we need to look at the other side of things.

You should always look for the possible side effects from using a certain supplement before you start to consume it yourself.

That being said, let’s look at the side effects of BCAAs.

Side Effects of BCAAs

Studies have shown that supplementing with branched-chain amino acids for up to 6 months is safe for most people. But not everyone’s the same, and more long-term research needs to be done before it can get the stamp of approval for long-term continuous usage.

So what kind of side effects can occur?

Well, for some people, BCAAs can cause them to feel fatigued or cause them to lose coordination. These are somewhat minor side effects, but it’s the reason why you’re sometimes cautioned not to use branched-chain amino acids before or during activities like driving, which requires coordination.

What are some of the more major side effects?

If you have Lou Gehrig’s disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, then you should NOT supplement with BCAAs. They are believed to cause lung failure and higher death rates when given to ALS patients.

If you have Maple Syrup Urine Disease, or branched-chain ketoaciduria, then you also should NOT supplement with BCAAs. Increased amounts of BCAAs have been known to cause seizures and severe mental and physical retardation for those with this condition.

And, if you’re an alcoholic then you should also avoid supplementing with branched-chain amino acids, to help avoid liver disease and brain damage.

It is also recommended to not supplement with BCAAs within two weeks of surgery, because of how they affect blood sugar levels.

There are also some medications that branched-chain amino acids interact with in a bad way.

BCAAs Interactions with Medication

Branched-chain amino acids can actually decrease the amount of levodopa your body absorbs, so try to avoid taking these two together.

And, as I already mentioned, BCAAs can affect your blood sugar levels and this should concern you if you’re a diabetic. If you were to take branched-chain amino acids AND your diabetic medicine then you might end up with severely low blood sugar levels.

Here are some antidiabetes drugs that you should avoid taking with BCAAs:

  • Glimepiride (Amaryl)
  • Glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase)
  • Insulin
  • Pioglitazone (Actos)
  • Rosiglitazone (Avandia)
  • Chlorpropamide (Diabinese)
  • Glipizide (Glucotrol)
  • Tolbutamide (Orinase)

Heed these warnings when dealing with branched-chain amino acid supplementation! If you have none of the conditions or diseases listed above, or don’t take any of the medications listed above, then you should be able to supplement with BCAAs without any side effects.

I feel like you should know a good amount of information about branched-chain amino acids by now, and we can move onto talking about the proper dosages to supplement with.

>> Continue Reading Part 6 - How Much Should I Take and When? >>

Have You Experienced Any Side Effects from BCAAs?

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    • Bendo13 profile image

      Ben Guinter 2 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      Everyone's different, Alan... can't say all supplements will work for everyone. Did you drink a gallon of water a day before you started using BCAA's though? If so, try drinking a little more and see if it helps. If not, did the constipation start soon after you started using BCAA's? Did you start supplementing with other things at the same time? If you were constipated at times before you started using BCAA's, then you may want to tweak your diet some, as it could have just accelerated a problem that was already there.

    • profile image

      Alan 2 years ago

      I take one scoop and almost 1 gallon of water a day. I still get constipated.

    • Bendo13 profile image

      Ben Guinter 3 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      Hey Mike, that can be an issue for some. If that's the case, up your intake of fluid to even things out.

    • profile image

      Mike 3 years ago

      MAJOR constipation for me. So bad that i just cant do BCAA's at all.

    • Bendo13 profile image

      Ben Guinter 5 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      Hey Tony,

      I think that, because they are branched chain amino acids and not a really long chain amino acids, someone with coeliac disease might be OK to take BCAAs. Leucine, isoleucine and valine should break down just fine, but the person with coeliac disease should definitely speak with their doctor about it, just to be sure.

    • profile image

      tony 5 years ago

      is it safe to take branch chain amino acids when you have coeliac disease

    • Bendo13 profile image

      Ben Guinter 7 years ago from Colorado Springs, Colorado

      Thank you katiem2! I think that's the best way to be rich...

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 7 years ago from I'm outta here

      Great Hub, Your an amazing wealth of information. Thanks :)