Branched Chain Amino Acids are a fitness professionals secret weapon. If you workout often and are not supplementing with these, I would highly recommend them. They have many benefits and are surprisingly are very affordable.

What are BCAA’s?

Amino acids are the broken down form of a protein molecule. There are 20 amino acids total. 3 of these, Valine, Leucine and Isoleucine each have a special structure and also a “super power” that the other amino acids do not have. Because of that, these 3 aminos are known as the Branched Chain Amino Acids.

When you eat protein, it is digested into amino acids which are then sent to the liver before they can be used throughout the body. BCAA’s have a superpower that allows them to skip a visit to the liver, and instead they are directly absorbed into the bloodstream and sent to the body for use. Because of their quick ability to be used, they are a great source of fuel to muscles before, during or after a workout. BCAA’s are also broken down for energy during a workout, thus giving you a quick source of energy and fuel during your workouts.

What are the benefits of BCAA supplementation? 

If BCAA’s are taken before a workout, they will be sent to the muscles and kind of “hang out” until they are needed as a quick source of fuel for the muscle. This is helpful because BCAA’S have been shown to:

  • decrease lactate levels in the muscles, causing you to be less sore following a workout and also help give your energy systems a boost during exercise
  • stimulate muscle growth (if you’re a female, don’t worry…I have found this helps my muscles shape and give them more definition, but it doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly look like a body builder)
  • decreases muscle damage during and after your workout
  • improve muscle recovery following your workout

I have also a lot of clients who prefer to train in a fasted state. While this can be dangerous for the protein levels and damage done to your muscles, supplementing with BCAA’s during your fasted state will not only reduce the damage, but preserve your muscle breakdown and supplement your energy systems during the workout.

I personally love using BCAA’s because:

  • I have more energy in my workouts, thus allowing me to push harder and longer.
  • I recover quickly with minimal soreness.
  • My muscles feel strong and don’t fatigue easily during exercise.
  • It preserves my muscle shape and gives me more definition by keeping protein sources readily available to the muscle fibers and preventing excess muscle breakdown (giving you that sometimes flabby look).
  • They taste good, motivating me to drink more water before/during/after a workout.
  • They are a natural supplement!

Some research has also shown that individuals with Fibromyalgia who supplement daily with BCAA’s have increased energy production.

How much BCAA’s should I take daily?

A good rule of thumb is to take 5 grams of BCAA’s for every hour you workout. If you are on a calorie restricting diet and still working out, you will want to supplement every 2-4 hours with 5 grams of BCAA to prevent muscle breakdown and loss.

What’s the best way to take BCAA’s?

BCAA’s can be found in both a capsule and powder form. I have used both, but prefer the powder form. Most powder forms are quite tasty, and when I mix them with water, not only am I getting my BCAA’s, but am increasing my water intake WHICH IS SUPER IMPORTANT. I have also found that most capsules do not has as much BCAA’s in them – so I have to swallow quite a bit of them to equal the amount of 1 scoop of powder I use. Some people prefer the capsules because you can take them on the go without having to mix them with anything.

Brands Kaitlyn uses and loves:

Ideal Lean BCAA’s for Women

Aminolast

BeachBody’s Recover Post-Workout Formula

Fermented BCAA + Creatine