BCAAs and Insulin Resistance in Vegans

BCAA supplementation may not be suitable to vegans. These are some main points from a recent  preliminary study comparing vegans to omnivores supplementing with 15 g (women) or 20 g (men) of BCAA daily for 3 months:

- Excess BCAA is stored and AA-derived carbon serves as a precursor for de novo lipogenesis in adipose tissue (1).
- A lower capacity of BCAA oxidation in adipose tissue has been proposed as a link between IR and higher circulating BCAA levels (2).
- Fasting levels of BCAA can predict the development of T2DM 12 years before its manifestation (3).
- BCAA could have a direct negative impact on insulin sensitivity in healthy humans (4,5,6).
- It seems that only IR subjects may benefit from BCAA supplementation (7,8).
- Adipose tissue capacity of de novo lipogenesis may be impaired in vegans and consequently adipose tissue less capable to buffer excess of BCAA that are directed to skeletal muscle interfering with glucose metabolism (4).

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1. Green CR, Wallace M, Divakaruni AS, Phillips SA, Murphy AN, Ciaraldi TP et al. Branched-chain amino acid catabolism fuels adipocyte differentiation and lipogenesis. Nat Chem Biol 2016; 12: 1521.
2. Herman MA, She P, Peroni OD, Lynch CJ, Kahn BB. Adipose tissue branched chain amino acid (BCAA) metabolism modulates circulating BCAA levels. J Biol Chem 2010; 285: 1134811356.
3. Wang TJ, Larson MG, Vasan RS, Cheng S, Rhee EP, McCabe E et al. Metabolite profiles and the risk of developing diabetes. Nat Med 2011; 17: 448453.
4. J Gojda, L Rossmeislová, R Straková, J Tůmová, M Elkalaf, M Jaček, P Tůma, J Potočková, E Krauzová, P Waldauf, J Trnka, V Štich and M Anděl.  Chronic dietary exposure to branched chain amino acids impairs glucose disposal in vegans but not in omnivores. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2017 Feb 1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28145418
5. Tremblay F, Krebs M, Dombrowski L, Brehm A, Bernroider E, Roth E et al. Overactivation of S6 kinase 1 as a cause of human insulin resistance during increased amino acid availability. Diabetes 2005; 54: 26742684.
6. Robinson MM, Soop M, Sohn TS, Morse DM, Schimke JM, Klaus KA et al. High insulin combined with essential amino acids stimulates skeletal muscle mitochondrial protein synthesis while decreasing insulin sensitivity in healthy humans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2014; 99: E2574E2583.
7. Ouellet V, Marois J, Weisnagel SJ, Jacques H. Dietary cod protein improves insulin sensitivity in insulin-resistant men and women: a randomized controlled trial. Diabetes Care 2007; 30: 28162821.
8. Jakubowicz D, Froy O, Ahrén B, Boaz M, Landau Z, Bar-Dayan Y et al. Incretin, insulinotropic and glucose-lowering effects of whey protein pre-load in type 2 diabetes: a randomised clinical trial. Diabetologia 2014; 57: 18071811.

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