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When Should You Take BCAAs for the Best Performance Benefits

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When Should You Take BCAAs for the Best Performance Benefits
Table Of Contents
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As an athlete, you know that performing well is essential. Not only does it make you feel good, but it also helps you stay in shape and improve your skills. Performing well can also give you an edge over your competitors.

When you're performing well, you're both physically at your best and mentally sharp and focused. You have the confidence to take on anything that comes your way. When you're not performing well, it's easy to get down on yourself and lose sight of your goals.

Whether you're a professional athlete or just someone who likes to stay in shape, you know that working out is essential. But you may need to realize that the quality of your workout is just as important as the quantity. And one of the critical factors in having a high-quality workout is ensuring you have enough branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) in your system.

BCAAs are specific amino acids essential for muscle growth and repair. They're also necessary for preventing fatigue during exercise. They're often referred to as "the building blocks of protein."

Here, you will learn all about BCAAs, their functions, and how they help to boost your performance.

What are BCAAs?

Bodybuilders are always looking for anything that will give them an edge in their quest for bigger muscles. So, when they hear about a new supplement that might help them achieve their goals, they're quick to jump on it.

BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, are a type of essential amino acid. This means that your body can't produce and must be obtained through your diet. BCAAs are made up of three amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These three amino acids are essential for muscle growth and recovery.

BCAA supplements have increased muscle growth, reduced exercise-induced fatigue, and improved exercise performance. While all amino acids are essential for building muscle, BCAAs are especially crucial because they comprise a large part of muscle tissue. Leucine alone accounts for about one-third of all the amino acids in muscle protein.

Benefits of BCAAs

There are many benefits to taking branched-chain amino acids, including regulating the mechanisms of different diseases. Some of these benefits are listed below:

Assists in Muscle Growth

BCAAs are essential for muscle growth. Leucine, in particular, is considered the critical amino acid for stimulating muscle protein synthesis. BCAAs can help you build muscle when combined with resistance training.

In one study, participants who took BCAA supplements before and after working out gained more muscle mass than those who didn't.

Prolongs Energy Levels

Delaying the onset of fatigue during exercise is best achieved by consuming BCAAs. They work to keep the body working optimally and steadily during exercises, so you don't get tired halfway through your workout. You can have them before starting your fitness routine or drink them to maintain energy levels.

Less Muscle Fatigue

BCAAs can decrease the mental and physical fatigue you experience during exercise. One study showed that taking BCAA supplements before and after exercise effectively reduced post-workout fatigue.

This is likely because BCAAs help your body produce energy more efficiently and reduce the amount of tryptophan that enters your brain. Tryptophan is an amino acid that makes you feel tired.

Improves Your Endurance

BCAAs can improve your endurance during long bouts of exercise by reducing the amount of tryptophan that enters your brain. Tryptophan is an amino acid converted into serotonin, which can make you tired. Taking BCAAs can reduce the amount of tryptophan that crosses the blood-brain barrier, resulting in improved focus and energy levels.

Helps With Weight Loss

BCAAs can help with weight loss by increasing fat-burning and preserving muscle mass. One study showed that those who took BCAAs lost more body fat and maintained more muscle mass than those who didn't take BCAAs.

Another study showed that BCAA supplementation helped reduce appetite and promote weight loss in obese individuals.

Helps With Muscle Soreness

One of the main benefits of BCAA supplements is that they can help reduce muscle soreness. This is because BCAAs help reduce inflammation and promote recovery, and in this way, you can have a pain-free exercising experience.

Treats Traumatic Brain Injury

BCAA supplementation is known to have a positive association with treating traumatic brain injury. The consumption of BCAA has been shown to improve the management of TBI and even yield better outcomes in severe cases.

Reduces Breast Cancer Risk

Not only do branched-chain amino acids improve metabolism, but they also reduce breast cancer risk. Women near menopause or in the early stages should use these supplements to lower their chances of developing breast cancer.

Better Exercise Performance

BCAAs can help improve your exercise performance, giving you more energy and reducing fatigue. This allows you to work out harder and more extended periods, helping you get the most out of your workouts.

Boosts Metabolism

BCAAs can also help boost your metabolism. The amino acids in BCAAs are used by your body to build new proteins, increasing your metabolic rate. In addition, BCAAs can help reduce the amount of fat your body stores.

Prevents Muscle Breakdown

BCAAs help prevent muscle breakdown and can even help build new muscle. When you work out, your body uses BCAAs for energy, leading to muscle loss. But taking BCAAs before or after your workout can help reduce muscle loss and even promote muscle growth.

How BCAAs Help in Fitness?

BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, are a type of essential amino acid. Your body cannot produce them independently; you must get them from your diet. BCAA supplements are often used by people who want to increase muscle mass or improve exercise performance.

BCAAs comprise three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. These amino acids are metabolized in the muscles rather than in the liver like other amino acids. During exercise, BCAAs are broken down and used for energy. BCAAs can also be used to build new proteins in the muscles.

BCAA supplements have been shown to increase muscle mass and strength when combined with resistance training. They may also help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage and soreness. In addition, BCAAs can enhance fat burning during exercise and help preserve muscle glycogen stores.

Overall, BCAA supplements can benefit people who want to improve their exercise performance or increase muscle mass. However, they are only necessary for some. You likely won't need a supplement if you eat a well-rounded diet with all essential amino acids.

That said, BCAA supplements may be especially beneficial for vegans or vegetarians, who may not get enough of these amino acids from their diet.

When to Take BCAAs?

There are many different opinions on the best time to take BCAA supplements. Some people swear by taking them as pre-workout, while others prefer to take them after. So, when is the best time to take BCAA supplements?

The answer may depend on your goals. If you want to improve workout performance and reduce muscle soreness, taking BCAA supplements before exercise is a good idea. On the other hand, taking BCAA supplements after exercise may be more effective if you're trying to build muscle.

Here's a closer look at the research on when to take BCAA supplements for the best results.

Before Exercise

BCAAs are amino acids that are involved in muscle protein synthesis. Therefore, taking BCAA supplements before exercise can help increase muscle protein synthesis and improve workout performance.

The study suggests that taking BCAA supplements before exercise can help you perform better and reduce post-workout muscle soreness.

After Exercise

While taking BCAAs before exercise can be beneficial, taking them after exercise may be more effective for building muscle. That's because BCAAs can help stimulate muscle protein synthesis, which is the process that helps your muscles grow.

In one study, participants who took BCAA supplements after exercise experienced more significant increases in muscle mass than those who did not take BCAAs.

Taking BCAA supplements after exercise may be more effective for building muscle. However, more research is needed to confirm these findings.

Who Should Be Taking BCAAs?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer to who should take BCAA supplements, but certain groups of people may benefit from them more than others.

If you're an athlete or bodybuilder, supplementing with BCAA can help reduce fatigue and promote muscle growth. If you're trying to lose weight, BCAA can help by preserving muscle mass while cutting calories. And if you have any liver disease, BCAAs can help protect your liver from further damage.

So, if any of those apply, consider trying BCAA supplements. Otherwise, they're unnecessary, but they can still benefit overall health and wellness.

FAQs

1. What are the benefits of taking BCAAs?

BCAA supplementation has been shown to improve exercise performance, reduce fatigue, and decrease muscle soreness. Additionally, BCAA supplements can help you build muscle and lose fat.

2. When should I take BCAAs?

The best time to take BCAAs is before or during your workout. You can also take BCAAs after your workout to help with recovery.

3. How much should I take?

The recommended dose of BCAAs is 2-5 grams before or during exercise and 5-10 grams after exercise.

4. Are there any side effects of taking BCAAs?

BCAA supplements are generally safe and well-tolerated. However, some people may experience GI distress, such as bloating, gas, or diarrhea. If you experience these side effects, reduce your dose or take BCAAs with food.

Additionally, people with liver or kidney disease should avoid BCAA supplements. You should also consult a healthcare provider before taking BCAAs if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Conclusion

While taking BCAAs before exercise is beneficial, you can also take them after exercise. Ultimately, your goals may depend on the best time to take BCAA supplements; taking them before exercise is a good idea to improve workout performance and reduce muscle soreness. On the other hand, if you're trying to build muscle, taking them after exercise may be more effective.

Reading List

Article Sources

  • Wolfe, Robert R. “Branched-Chain Amino Acids and Muscle Protein Synthesis in Humans: Myth or Reality?” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vol. 14, Aug. 2017, p. 30. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-017-0184-9.
  • Duan, Yehui, et al. “The Role of Leucine and Its Metabolites in Protein and Energy Metabolism.” Amino Acids, vol. 48, no. 1, Jan. 2016, pp. 41–51. Springer Link, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-015-2067-1.
  • Peter J. Garlick, The Role of Leucine in the Regulation of Protein Metabolism, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 135, Issue 6, June 2005, Pages 1553S–1556S, https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/135.6.1553S
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  • Kim DH, Kim SH, Jeong WS, Lee HY. Effect of BCAA intake during endurance exercises on fatigue substances, muscle damage substances, and energy metabolism substances. J Exerc Nutrition Biochem. 2013 Dec;17(4):169-80. doi: 10.5717/jenb.2013.17.4.169. Epub 2013 Nov 28. PMID: 25566428; PMCID: PMC4241904.
  • Choi, Sujean, et al. “Oral Branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplements That Reduce Brain Serotonin during Exercise in Rats Also Lower Brain Catecholamines.” Amino Acids, vol. 45, no. 5, Nov. 2013, pp. 1133–42. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-013-1566-1.
  • Gervasi, Marco, et al. “Effects of a Commercially Available Branched-Chain Amino Acid-Alanine-Carbohydrate-Based Sports Supplement on Perceived Exertion and Performance in High Intensity Endurance Cycling Tests.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vol. 17, no. 1, Jan. 2020, p. 6. BioMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-020-0337-0.
  • Novin, Zahra Shakibay, et al. “The Weight Loss Effects of Branched Chain Amino Acids and Vitamin B6: A Randomized Controlled Trial on Obese and Overweight Women.” International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research. Internationale Zeitschrift Fur Vitamin- Und Ernahrungsforschung. Journal International De Vitaminologie Et De Nutrition, vol. 88, no. 1–2, Feb. 2018, pp. 80–89. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.1024/0300-9831/a000511.
  • Weber, Martim Gomes, et al. “The Use of BCAA to Decrease Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness after a Single Bout of Exercise: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Amino Acids, vol. 53, no. 11, Nov. 2021, pp. 1663–78. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-021-03089-2.
  • Oana A Zeleznik, PhD, Raji Balasubramanian, ScD, Yumeng Ren, MS, Deirdre K Tobias, ScD, Bernard A Rosner, PhD, Cheng Peng, ScD, Alaina M Bever, BS, Lisa Frueh, BA, Sarah Jeanfavre, MS, Julian Avila-Pacheco, PhD, Clary B Clish, PhD, Samia Mora, MD, Frank B Hu, PhD, A Heather Eliassen, ScD, Branched-Chain Amino Acids and Risk of Breast Cancer, JNCI Cancer Spectrum, Volume 5, Issue 5, October 2021, pkab059, https://doi.org/10.1093/jncics/pkab059
  • Mann, Gagandeep, et al. “Branched-Chain Amino Acids: Catabolism in Skeletal Muscle and Implications for Muscle and Whole-Body Metabolism.” Frontiers in Physiology, vol. 12, 2021. Frontiers, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2021.702826.
  • Singh Tejavath, Arun, et al. “Impact of Branched Chain Amino Acid on Muscle Mass, Muscle Strength, Physical Performance, Combined Survival, and Maintenance of Liver Function Changes in Laboratory and Prognostic Markers on Sarcopenic Patients With Liver Cirrhosis (BCAAS Study): A Randomized Clinical Trial.” Frontiers in Nutrition, vol. 8, 2021. Frontiers, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnut.2021.715795.
  • Dudgeon, Wesley David, et al. “In a Single-Blind, Matched Group Design: Branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplementation and Resistance Training Maintains Lean Body Mass during a Caloric Restricted Diet.” Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, vol. 13, no. 1, Jan. 2016, p. 1. BioMed Central, https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-015-0112-9.
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  • Kim, Dong-Hee, et al. “Effect of BCAA Intake during Endurance Exercises on Fatigue Substances, Muscle Damage Substances, and Energy Metabolism Substances.” Journal of Exercise Nutrition & Biochemistry, vol. 17, no. 4, Dec. 2013, pp. 169–80. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.5717/jenb.2013.17.4.169.
  • Ra, Song-Gyu, et al. “Effect of BCAA Supplement Timing on Exercise-Induced Muscle Soreness and Damage: A Pilot Placebo-Controlled Double-Blind Study.” The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, vol. 58, no. 11, Nov. 2018, pp. 1582–91. PubMed, https://doi.org/10.23736/S0022-4707.17.07638-1.
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