Chugging down lots of protein shakes might not be such a good idea if you want to lose weight, according to new research.

While amino acids have long been touted to build muscle and help eliminate fat, a new research from University of Sydney’s Charles Perkins Centre reveals that consuming too much branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) can actually do you more harm than good.

Dr. Samantha Solon-Biet has been investigating the role of nutrition in metabolic health, reproduction, appetite, and ageing. According to her research, too much BCAAs in the body can lead to negative health effects in the mid-late life and also a shortened lifespan.

In her research, mice were fed BCAAs in different doses – some double the normal amount, some the standard, others were fed smaller doses. The mice that were fed double the amount of BCAAs increased their food intake, which eventually brought about obesity and shorter life.

Furthermore, it was found that BCAAs could influence mood, which can also lead to overeating – making you fatter and not the other way around.

“Supplementation of BCAAs resulted in high levels of BCAAs in the blood which competed with tryptophan for transport into the brain,” explained Professor Stephen Simpson, Academic Director of the Charles Perkins Centre.

Simpson explains that tryptophan is needed to produce serotonin, which is the “happiness hormone” that promotes positive mood and sleep. And because BCAAs compete with serotonin levels in the brain, this leads to the brain not producing enough serotonin. Thus, lack of “happiness” leads to overeating.

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“What this new research has shown is that amino acid balance is important—it’s best to vary sources of protein to ensure you’re getting the best amino acid balance,” says Dr. Solon-Biet.

However, it doesn’t mean that you should completely quit on protein shakes as your post-workout staple. A good alternative is to increase the variety of food where you get protein from.

Dr. Rosilene Ribeiro, a qualified dietitian and public health nutritionist of University of Sydney’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences, recommends getting your proteins from other sources. BCAAs are present in red meat, eggs, chicken, and fish. These essential amino acids could also be found in nuts, lentils, and beans.

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Protein is only one of the important nutrients that we need for our body to function properly. Being fit is made up of different factors, and weight loss trends like fad diets and excessive protein shake consumption can easily be thought of as “magic bullets” to losing fat.

Without the right medical guidance, diets and supplements may do you more harm than good. That’s why it’s always important to seek professional help when trying to lose weight. Companies like Mediweight can help you achieve your fitness goals with friendly, medically-supervised programs. Created by doctors, Mediweight’s meal plans are delicious and won’t leave you feeling hungry and tired. Their diet experts work together to give you the proper guidance on nutrition to make sure that you’re getting the right amount of essential nutrients that your body needs.