Should I Drink BCAAs During My Workout?

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Should I Drink BCAAs During My Workout?

The Function of BCAAs

Proteins are made up of tiny units called amino acids. Different proteins are made up of distinct amino acids linked together in different patterns. Amino acids are vital in enzyme activity and chemical synthesis in the body, in addition to being the building blocks of proteins.

Three essential amino acids make up branched-chain amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Because their side chains "branch," they are known as branched-chain amino acids. The BCAAs are one of the eight amino acids that are required for life. They're dubbed "essential" since the body can't produce them and must get them from diet.

While you can obtain enough of these aminos by eating enough protein-rich foods, taking them via a drink offers its own set of benefits. Pure BCAAs, for example, bypass the liver and intestines and enter the bloodstream immediately.

Although getting enough BCAAs is vital for everyone, it's especially crucial for people who want to grow or maintain muscle. These chemicals, particularly leucine, aid in protein metabolism regulation by boosting protein synthesis while inhibiting protein breakdown.

Sources of BCAAs in Food

Whey protein, casein, eggs, soy, milk, and cheese all contain leucine.

Meat, chicken, fish, whey protein, casein, eggs, soy, cottage cheese, milk, and cashews all contain isoleucine.

Whey protein, casein, egg whites, soy, cheese, milk, and cottage cheese are all high in valine.

BCAA Supplementation's Advantages

BCAA intake before an exercise can assist boost protein synthesis, limit muscle protein breakdown, lower muscle damage signs, and alleviate delayed onset muscle soreness symptoms (DOMS).

Gains in Muscle

Branched-chain amino acids can aid protein synthesis, which leads to muscle growth, in a variety of ways.

The majority of amino acids are absorbed by the intestines and transported directly to the liver. Before they reach the rest of the body, the liver determines what to do with them. If the body requires additional energy, the liver will break them down for fuel instead of repairing and building muscle and other tissue.

BCAAs, on the other hand, are largely ignored by the liver and have direct access to tissues such as muscle. The muscle fibers must then decide what to do with the amino acids based on their requirements. One of these requirements could be to increase muscle mass, which is a positive thing!

Leucine is the most useful of the three BCAAs for increasing muscle growth in terms of protein synthesis. Leucine starts the protein synthesis process in the same way that the ignition starts a car engine. Leucine stimulates a complex mechanism known as mTOR, which increases protein synthesis and, as a result, muscle tissue growth.

Anti-catabolic properties of branched-chain amino acids may help with muscle recovery. This means they aid in muscle breakdown (catabolism) and recovery following exercise.

Muscular synthesis and muscle breakdown both rise after resistance training, but breakdown actually outnumbers growth. Amino supplements can help with this. Muscle loss outweighs growth until protein or leucine is consumed after exercise.

Pre-workout, a drink containing 6-10 grams of BCAAs can help you recover faster and with less soreness.

Increased Energy And Fatigue Delay

BCAAs are broken down and used as an energy source during exercise.

A decrease in circulating BCAA levels causes a rise in serotonin concentrations in the brain, which is hypothesized to have a role in exercise tiredness.

Valine is important for supplying energy during workouts. Tryptophan is rapidly absorbed by the brain during exercise. The brain converts tryptophan into serotonin.

Valine, on the other hand, competes with tryptophan for brain access and usually wins. 9 As a result, Because less tryptophan is converted to serotonin, your muscles can contract with greater force for longer periods of time before becoming weary.

More branched-chain amino acids will be needed for fuel as the workout becomes more severe and longer. Supplementing with them allows you to workout more vigorously and for longer periods of time, which is essential for dramatic body composition changes. This effect is amplified if you exercise while fasting.

Keep in mind that if you consume BCAAs while fasting training, you are technically no longer fasted. However, because they assist you maintain your lean muscle mass, it's still a victory for your metabolism.

Fat Loss

The BCAAs, or even just leucine by itself, may aid in weight loss, particularly when dieting. Satiety, leptin (a hormone that makes you feel full), glucose, adiposity, and body weight have all been linked to them in studies.

A 1997 experiment on competitive wrestlers was one of the first to demonstrate this benefit. It was discovered that patients who supplemented with branched-chain amino acids while following a low-calorie diet lost more body fat, particularly around the waist, than those who took a placebo.

In addition, a Brazilian study indicated that six weeks of leucine supplementation combined with a low-calorie diet resulted in a significant reduction in body fat in rats. The researchers hypothesized that leucine's stimulation of protein synthesis enhanced energy expenditure to the point where the rats on the leucine-enriched diet burned off more body fat than the placebo group.

In a more recent investigation on the fat-loss effects of BCAA supplements, Japanese researchers reported that mice given isoleucine while consuming a high-fat diet accumulated considerably less fat than mice who did not receive isoleucine supplements.

The capacity of isoleucine to activate specific receptors known as PPARs, which boost fat burning and prevent fat accumulation, appears to be responsible for these benefits. PPARs work by increasing the activity of genes that promote fat burning while lowering the activity of genes that promote fat accumulation in the body.

We don't know how much BCAA-enriched drinks will affect weight loss because these effects are still being studied. But things are looking up.

Should I Drink BCAAs During My Workout?

When Should You Take BCAAs?

During workouts, consume liquids containing leucine, isoleucine, and valine to avoid a drop in these amino acids' levels. This aids in the prevention of weariness and the enhancement of both mental and physical performance. In a glycogen-depleted state, it can also reduce tiredness and improve fat utilization during exercise. Intra-workout BCAA supplementation could make a major effect if you're on a low-carb diet, in a calorie deficit, or conduct fasted training!*

Mixing a serving of branched-chain amino acids into a sports drink can assist. The sugar in the drink will cause an increase in insulin, an anabolic hormone, which will provide you with the energy you need to complete your workout. (If you're fasting, simply mix your BCAA drink with water.)

You can also take them before or after a workout to boost your amino-acid levels and aid recuperation.

Using BCAAs in Combination With Other Supplements

Branched-chain amino acids can be used with other supplements to improve your exercises.

mTOR regulates protein synthesis in part by sensing ATP and amino-acid levels, particularly leucine levels. When BCAAs are abundant, as well as when ATP levels are high, mTOR is activated. BCAAs and ATP both activate mTOR in different ways.

Protein synthesis is boosted when mTOR is activated (high ATP levels sensed), while protein synthesis is decreased when mTOR is repressed (low ATP levels sensed).

When BCAA supplements are combined with other supplements that raise ATP levels, mTOR is activated, and protein synthesis increases.

Our goal is to keep ATP levels high while exercising. To accomplish so, we must provide the necessary nutrients both before and after the workout to keep ATP levels up and our bodies ready to expand.


Creatine is required for the regeneration of ATP, the body's primary energy source. Creatine storage in skeletal muscle is restricted. Creatine supplementation improves your ability to produce ATP, which increases the amount of energy available for activity. [16,17] Additionally, supplementing with creatine raises ATP levels, which stimulates protein synthesis via mTOR activation.

Malate of Citrulline

Adding a serving of citrulline malate boosts ATP generation as well. According to a 2002 study, 6 grams of CM per day reduced exercise exhaustion and increased ATP production by over 30%.

Additional Muscle-Growth Strategies

Despite some promising research, these findings haven't always translated into significant gains in strength or muscle growth in real life. Amino-acid supplements may make it simpler to avoid muscle loss, but you must still put in the effort to boost muscle growth.

Eat! To fuel muscular growth, you must consume enough overall calories and protein. Because protein balance varies during the day, it's recommended to eat small meals throughout the day, each of which should contain at least 20 grams of protein. If you conduct fasted training, increase the size of your post-workout meal.

Plan out your workouts. Your workouts should be tailored to achieve the results you desire. They should also be modified when your body responds so that you can continue to grow muscle.

Lift for either hypertrophy or strength (depending on your goal). Yes, they are distinct. Strength training does not inherently increase muscle mass, but it does improve neuromuscular adaptations, which increases muscle strength. Hypertrophy training increases muscular size.

Increase your recuperation time. It's still crucial to eat enough calories and get enough sleep on non-training days to stay anabolic and properly repair.

Last Word

Although the knowledge is constantly evolving, BCAA supplementation is worth exploring if you want to get stronger or bigger. These potent amino acids may affect muscle breakdown, rehabilitation, and muscle injury, allowing you to focus on your next session.

They may also assist you in achieving your weight-loss goals while preserving your lean muscle mass.

If you eat a lot of protein, your BCAA levels are probably already where they should be. However, if you have trouble getting enough protein in your diet or don't have enough stamina to go through (or recover from) your workouts, a BCAA drink may be beneficial.

Taking BCAA supplements throughout your workout can help you feel less tired and perform better mentally and physically, especially if you're fasting. Everyone is different, so give it a shot and see how it goes.

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