bcaa guide

What Is BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids)-Bodybuilder’s Guide

In the journey of muscle building, any bodybuilder does his best to consume a good amount of proteins like chickens, steaks, eggs, fish and  addition to that, there are our protein shakes . However, we do not stop there. The BCAA have an important role to play.

Even when consuming all this, the most serious and experienced bodybuilders should ask "why would I need to consume more amino acids when there is already in large quantities in all that I eat ?"

The answer is that these simple amino acids can influence muscle growth in different ways, and among all the amino acids, BCAAs are the most important.

bcaa for muscles

The BCAA are among the supplements mostly consumed by bodybuilders and athletes. 

Do these amino acids have so much success with bodybuilders? Should we take BCAAs to optimize muscle gain? When should the BCAA be used ?

You'r about to discover this in our complete guide on BCAA amino acids for bodybuilding 

What Is The BCAA ?


Before knowing when to take BCAAs , it is essential to know what BCAAs represent. 
BCAAs are also called branched amino acids and are formed by 3 amino acids: leucine, iso-leucine and valine.

These 3 amino acids  are  in the category of essential amino acids and can not be synthesized by the human body. 
They should therefore be provided by natural food or by food supplements. 
They alone form 1/3 of the amino acids present in your muscle mass

Role of BCAA for Strength Training

  • The leucine , the amino acid the most powerful of BCAAs is responsible for the regulation of glucose levels in blood, limiting the increase in cortisol levels, increases growth hormone and testosterone, recover muscles damage.
  • The isoleucine has the same effect as leucine, except that it involved less in the recovery of muscle damage, however, it helps to heal the wounds
  • The valine works in an interactive way with leucine and isoleucine maintaining a balanced level of nitrogen to better recover the muscles and help increasing hormone levels.

So if muscle growth is your goal, BCAAs are therefore a must for you!

branched amino acids

The BCAA are therefore very important in our body and do certain essential functions, in particular for the bodybuilders. 
The BCAA for muscle will play a role in two different actions:

BCAA to protect your muscle mass.

During intense workout, the directly available energy reserves (ATP, glycogen) in the human body are rapidly depleted. Once these reserves have been exhausted, the body is forced to degrade its own muscles to obtain amino acids (mostly BCAAs) in order to produce energy. 
This phenomenon is called catabolism , which means the destruction of muscle proteins, unlike the anabolism of creating proteins for muscles.

in other words:

In intense training, your body enters catabolism state. This means that your body destroys tissue (fat, muscle, etc.) rather than build it (Anabolism).

A muscle loss will therefore be felt since your body will use amino acids as a source of energy and not for the synthesis of proteins (to build muscle).

It is therefore important to know how muscle building works.

An intake of BCAA will thus make it possible to provide the body with a dose of branched amino acids (Leucine, Isoleucine, Valine) directly available. Muscle catabolism will therefore be partially completely avoided and your muscle mass preserved! 

The point of that is...

To build muscle, you need to synthesize more protein than you destroy. In the opposite case, you will lose muscle or you will keep the same muscle mass when both rates are equal.

BCAAs stimulate muscle development

Obviously, the BCAA is not only used to protect your muscle mass during your workouts! They will also play a role in:

  • Improved protein synthesis , allowing your body to recover faster post training and accelerate muscle intake.
  • Reduced fatigue due to the lack of serotonin responsible for brain fatigue recovery, to train harder and longer. And yes, the BCAA have an action on your brain!

To support these remarks, here are two very interesting studies that have recently been conducted to determine the role of BCAA's in building weight training:

Mike Spillane's BCAA Scientific Study  released on December 6, 2013

Jim Stoppani's BCAA Scientific Study   published on July 31, 2009

When to take the BCAA?


It is therefore obvious that the BCAA are essential for the bodybuilders wishing to optimize their muscles development. But it is important to know when to take the BCAA in order to maximize their effectiveness!

The best time to take the BCAA is around your workout: before, during and after. In order to optimize the efficiency of these amino acids, we advise you to:

  • Prepare a bottle of water with 10g of BCAA , which you drink before and during your workout
  • Drink a whey protein shaker  just after your session. This post-training shaker will bring you BCAA as well as all the amino acids your body needs.

Best BCAA in the market

Best-Selling BCAA Powder

During periods of dryness, the BCAA are even more important because it is a very favorable time for catabolism! 
Indeed, consuming the calories forces your body to draw from its reserves, both fat and muscle! It is therefore essential to take BCAA in order to avoid a maximum catabolism and preserve your muscle mass.  

During this time, we advise you to add 2 doses of Scivation, Xtend BCAAs (Perfect Before, After, and During Training )each day of workout that you will drink throughout the day. These BCAAs contain 0 carbohydrates, 0 lipids and are gluten-free, ideal for drying. 

Don't forget to check:




As you can see, BCAAs are essential for bodybuilders.  Even though whey protein usually contain BCAA as well as your diet, it is strongly advisable to add a supplement in BCAA. 
The BCAA with creatine and protein powder is the most used food supplement in bodybuilding!

In which foods do you find natural BCAAs?

bcaa in food
BCAA can be found naturally in the diet by consuming dairy products or meat. Nevertheless, these are products that it is difficult (see impossible) to take within 30 minutes before training or during training ... 
BCAA supplementation will therefore be preferred for this period.
There is another important question that you should ask:

Which food contains the most BCAA ?

All BCAAs are known as supplements, but some foods have good quantities of BCAAs too like :
  • Eggs: which have the largest amount of BCAAs . As 9 eggs will provide you with 7 grams of BCAA plus 2 grams of Leucine
  • Chicken breast: a 170gm piece contains 6.6 grams of BCAA 

There is also of course the whey which for each scoop contains about 5g of BCAA (the good whey of course).

Is it better to take BCAA capsules or powder?

It does not matter! Personally, I prefer to mix powdered bcaa with my bottle of water to be able to consume them during all my period of training. With very fresh water, it is very pleasant during the training! But tablets or capsules also do the trick.
BCAA + Glutamine or BCAA alone ? 
BCAA and Glutamine are the most important amino acids to develop your muscle mass. Glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in the muscles since it represents 60% of the total mass! A BCAA + Glutamine mixture is therefore the best solution for optimal results!

Dosage for BCAA capsules

The capsules have different recommendations according to the product. For example, BCAA 1500 can be taken in pairs 2-3 times per day. However, the dosages are often very similar. So it is better to follow the recommendations of the product that you buy.

Optimum Nutrition BCAA Capsules (BEST-SELLING)

MET-Rx® BCAA 2200 Supplement

Natureganics MEGA BCAA Amino Acids Dietary Supplement

Are BCAA amino acids dangerous for your health?

BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, valine) are amino acids found naturally in the diet. It does not represent a danger to your health, from the moment you respect the doses ... Needless to take 100g per day!

BCAA and Weight Loss

If you viewed the second scientific study ,you will see that the BCAA allowed the bodybuilder to lose weight while building muscles at the same time! In addition, BCAAs will protect your muscle mass during your drying.And yes BCAA help you loos weight!
How does this happen ?
BCAAs have the ability to spare glycogen and increase insulin sensitivity. This plays an important role in a goal of fat loss. 

BCAAs are also good for those seeking to gain weight as for those seeking to lose fat. Everyone can take BCAA and they will help you in a different way.

For example: BCAAs are very good to take in pre-training to feed your muscles during a fasting period, and allows you to continue to gain muscle while burning fat.

A BCAA supplementation is definitely not necessary for everyone and will not make you directly lose weight, saying that BCAA are losing weight is wrong. However, if you train hard and want to lose fat, adding BCAA to achieve your goals is a very good idea, especially to preserve your muscles.

BCAA Side Effects

Although BCAAs are generally safe, if you fall into one of the following categories, you'd better avoid them. If you are not sure, you can always ask your doctor for more information.

Pregnant or nursing women: If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is not recommended to consume branched-chain amino acids because there is insufficient evidence of their safety in this condition.

Before surgery: BCAAs affect blood sugar, so it is not recommended to take it immediately prior to surgery. If you take it, stop taking it at about two weeks before the operation.

Other than that, there's no risk. 

BCAA for women

BCAAs are not just for men ... If you do physical activity, the BCAA will have the same benefits for you as well

BCAA replacements

Numerous debates have been launched on the fact that the benefits of BCAA can be obtained from other sources such as Whey Protein . But, it does not bring the same effects as a concentrated source of BCAA.

Whey amino acids must be degraded during manufacturing, so they are not as effective as BCAA alone. We do not say that the Whey is not good, it is not our kind. But if you are really looking to get the benefits of BCAA, it is better to increase your intake with an additional source.

Important message for you

Used properly, BCAAs with a very powerful supplement. They help to increase muscle mass by boosting the rate of protein synthesis in addition to preventing muscle loss during workout.

They also offer a very good source of energy during training especially for an intense training.

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