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BCAA 101

BCAA 101: All About Branched-chain Amino Acids

BCAA 101

Working out in the gym for hours can sometimes be too draining. It’s not easy to have the right amount of energy, stamina, and perseverance to endure long hours of training.

Supplements help bodybuilders to keep going. They give them the necessary boost needed to achieve their goal. Apart from creatine and casein, BCAA is among the most popular ingredients that are consumed by bodybuilders.

Let’s take a look at what BCAA Supplementation is and why bodybuilders need it.

What are BCAAs

BCAA 101: Getting to Know It Better

BCAA stands for Branch Chain Amino Acids.

As you know, amino acids are the protein’s building blocks. Proteins are the building blocks of every tissue, cell, and organ in your body. Therefore, it’s important to understand that your body can’t fully funciton without amino acids.

There are a total of 20 amino acids, nine of which are essential. These are:

  • Threonine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Lysine
  • Tryptophan
  • Histidine
  • Methionine
  • Valine
  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine

The final three, Valine, Leucine and Isoleucine,are what make up the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs).

BCAAs represent around  35–40% of all essential amino acids found in your body. Also, 14–18% of those are present in your muscle. Unlike other amino acids, the break down of BCAA occurs in the muscle. Because of this, they play an important role in producing energy during exercise.

Out of the three essential amino acids that make up BCAAs, leucine has the biggest impact on your body’s production of muscle proteins. Valine and isoleucine, on the other hand, are more effective in regulating blood sugar levels and producing energy.

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BCAA 101: Sources

Our body can’t produce all of these essencial amino acids, so you must get them from your diet.

All protein-containing foods are good sources of BCAAs. The richest sources of branched-chain amino acids are dairy foods and red meat. This includes yogurt, milk, cheese, goat, lamb, bison, and beef. Other sources of BCAAs are eggs, fish, chicken, soy protein, nuts, lentils, and beans.

Since we can’t possibly have all of these foods in our diet, we rely on dietary supplements to provide for our dietary needs. BCAAs have been an important ingredient to fitness supplements because of the benefits they provide. Taking supplements that contain BCAAs can help boost your workout performance and your muscle growth as well.

BCAA 101: Proven Benefits

Below are the helpful benefits of BCAAs.

Increases Muscle Mass

One of the major reasons why people use BCAA supplements is to increase their muscle mass.

Research has proven the effectivity of BCAAs in increasing muscle mass. BCAAs activate enzymes that are responsible for muscle building. BCAAs supplements that have a higher content of valine and isoleucine are effective at increasing muscle mass.

So if you want to boost muscle growth, you must have a BCAA-rich diet or take supplements.

Reduces Muscle Soreness

BCAAs can lessen your muscle soreness after a workout. They lower blood levels of the enzymes lactate dehydrogenase and creatine kinase. These enzymes are involved in muscle damage. As a result, you get protected from muscle damage and have a faster recovery.

Also, a study conducted where 20 participants were given  BCAA supplements. These participants reported that after taking the supplement, their muscle soreness level was lowered by 33%.

Reduces Fatigue During Exercise

Eating food rich in BCAAs or taking BCAAs supplement can reduce not just your physical fatigue during exercise but your mental fatigue as well. This increased resistance to fatigue can help you work out longer.

Additionally, there is one study where participants were given BCAAs during their exercise. They have reported that their fatigue lessend by 15%.

Helps In Weight Loss

BCAAs are helpful in maintaining your weight and accelerating weight loss.

They help you cut unnecessary cravings by providing aid to your brain in lowering a neurotransmitter called serotonin. They also help you in losing fat instead of muscle. When you take BCAA supplement, your body gets an added boost of energy needed and muscles are prevented from being broken down.

Moreover, BCAAs give you more energy and lowers fatigue. You’ll be able to burn more fat if you’re working out longer.

Other Health Benefits of BCAAs

BCAAs are not only beneficial to bodybuilders. Below are other health benefits that you must know:

  • Lowers blood sugar level
  • Lowers the risk of liver disease and reduces its complications
  • Enhances mental focus
  • Manages insomnia and sleep disorders
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BCAA 101: Side Effects and Risks

Taking BCAA supplements is generally safe as long as you follow the recommended dosage and manufacturer’s instruction. Most users don’t experience side effects either.

However, you should stop taking these supplements and consult medical assistance if you are experiencing serious side effects.

Several kinds of research are suggesting that BCAAs can be linked to certain diseases such as:

  • Heart disease – A study suggests that high levels of BCAAs can be a marker for heart diseases.
  • Cancer – A 2018 review suggests a link between BCAA metabolism and cancer. According to them, tumors use BCAAs as a source of energy which helps promote the growth of cancer.
  • Liver problems – A 2016 study shows a link between high levels of BCAAs and liver injury and nonalcoholic liver disease.
  • Diabetes – Research shows that type 2 diabetes may be linked with increased BCAA levels.

Just like with other things, excessive consumption of BCAAs can have potential negative side effects. This includes headaches, nausea, loss of coordination, fatigue, and increased insulin resistance (which can lead to Type 2 diabetes).

You should avoid taking BCAA supplementation if you have conditions like heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, and Maple Syrup Urine Disease. It’s also not recommended for those who drink excessive alcohol.

BCAAs are not only good for you but they are also critically important. By incorporating them on your diet and/or taking BCAA supplements, you can have more confidence that you can endure any workout sessions.


Agnew, L. (2019). Benefits & Side Effects of BCAA (Branched-Chain Amino Acids). Retrieved from

Cooper, E. (2019). BCAAs: Everything You Need to Know. Retrieved from

Petre, A. (2016). BCAA Benefits: A Review of Branched-Chain Amino Acids. Retrieved from

Stinson, A. (2019). Health benefits of BCAAs. Retrieved from

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