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BCAA stands for Branch Chain Amino Acids. They are one of the most overlooked and most effective supplements for anyone looking to build muscle and increase performance. Most people don't know how BCAA's affect their body, when they should be used, or what they even are.

A Little Background:

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and muscle growth. When you eat protein, your body converts the protein into its basic amino acids so you can absorb and use them. The amino acids you get from protein sources are called Essential Amino Acids (EAA). The reason they are called essential amino acids is because our bodies do not produce them naturally, and they must be obtained from outside sources, i.e. complete proteins. There are nine essential amino acids and they are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, tryptophan, and valine. On the other hand BCAA’s only have three amino acids; leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAA's are simpler amino acids that are used to form muscle tissue.

BCAA's make up 35% of our muscles and have to be present in the body for muscle growth. On top of that, they are used to balance hormonal release and brain functions. When you are working out with heavy weights or doing extended periods of cardio, having a supply of branch chain amino acids can benefit you greatly. This is because, when you work out your body quickly depletes your glycogen storage and starts sending a signal to stop protein synthesis. This makes your body become catabolic, which is exactly what we don't want. When you introduce BCAA into your body during a period of high stress (weight lifting), you can reverse this effect and allow your body to continue its protein synthesis. This can lead to better muscle gains, faster recovery between sessions, and greater performance.


When supplementing branch chain amino acids, you should have around 4-8 grams prior to your workout and 4-8 grams post workout. If you are taking a whey protein supplement that has the full range of essential amino acids, you do not need the post workout BCAA. With BCAA's you can take up to 15 grams to get an even greater effect on recovery and performance.

Another benefit is if you want to do weight training and cardio in the same session it is recommended to take your BCAA drink during your workout or right before your cardio session. This will prevent any unwanted muscle lose during your aerobic exercise and provide extra energy to finish. By ingesting BCAA's prior to cardio you will not hurt your fat burning power. This is because they do not get digested the same way that a normal protein source would.

Also, if you are doing an extended period of cardio, weight training, or sports activity lasting longer than 1 ½ hours, you should consume BCAA's sometime during the activity. This will help stop muscle breakdown that usually happens after an extended period of stress.


Overall, branch chain amino acids are one of the most beneficial supplements you can add to your workout or sports training. They are very well researched and have been proven for a long time. If you already have a whey protein, multivitamin, and creatine supplement, this is a great choice to boost your gains to the next level and help retain muscle during a fat loss session.

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