Taking BCAAs

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We tend to receive loads and loads of questions about how to take BCAA amino acids. What amount of BCAAs do you need? When to take BCAAs? What are BCAAs good for? We have it all summed up!

What’s the use of taking BCAAs?

BCAA (Branched-Chain Amino Acid) is a collective term used for 3 amino acids: leucine, isoleucine, and valine. It is leucine we need the most – but that comes later.

These amino acids are building blocks of proteins (arm-in-arm with others), and they are also special: they possess outstanding anti-catabolic properties (preventing muscle decomposition), and anabolic properties (promoting muscle development) too. BCAAs make up 35% of all the amino acids in a muscle, so it is easy to see why they are important from the aspect of muscle development. But there is one thing that is even more important: even a few minutes of physical activity can decrease the level of these amino acids (especially leucine) in the muscles. It is recommended to replenish after workout as soon as possible, otherwise the body starts to eat up itself to cover the deficit. This is catabolism – the process of muscle decomposition. Taking BCAAs can cut this process short, that’s why BCAAs are called anti-catabolic.

And the cherry on the cake: BCAAs are essential amino acids, meaning that the body cannot synthesize them, so they must be taken from external sources. For that reason the appropriate quantities of proper quality protein sources should be consumed, and those doing intensive muscle work are highly recommended to take supplements too.

Don’t get this wrong: you won’t shrink or catabolize to bones if BCAAs are over the budget. The point is to maintain your daily protein intake. But BCAAs should be on your priority list right under (or besides) vitamins, proteins, and joint support supplements, so if you have the budget, do include a high quality BCAA product in your stash of supplements.

Taking BCAAs

Being anti-catabolic, and anabolic, BCAAs should be taken when there is a risk of muscle decomposition. This means that you can take BCAAs (in the order of importance, in case you need to choose)...

  1. ...After the workout. If you have a high quality protein shake, probably with added BCAAs in it, an extra 5 grams of BCAA would still make it better – or you can skip to the next entry if your budget is tight.
  2. ...Before the workout.
  3. ...During workout.
  4. ...Right after waking up in the morning, added to your protein supplements or protein source.
  5. ...In the evening, before going to bed, added to your protein supplements or cottage cheese, etc.

It is best to take 5 grams in the morning, before workout, after workout, and before going to bed (in case you take 5 grams before workout, it is not that important to take it during workout too, but it would still be beneficial in a strict diet). If you need to cut costs, and focus on certain periods, take BCAAs before and after workout.

You can take BCAAs any other time too, if there is a longer period between two meals for some reason. “Longer” means really longer: it is not the case when your 3-hour interval is extended to 4 hours, but when you miss a meal completely, so the interval is doubled. You still won’t shrink without BCAAs, but in a situation like this, it is good to have some anti-catabolics around.

Glutamine or BCAA?

This is a pretty frequent question that arises before buying amino acids. There is an entire article about it, so we would keep the answer pretty short... Read it here.

Which BCAA product to choose?

We recommend you to buy the powdered form, and the reason is simple: it is more economical. Unflavored powders are the best deal. You need to get over the taste (as it is far from being delicious), but it is something that pays off. There are flavored BCAA powders available too, and those are less problematic to consume, but their cost efficiency is lower. If you are into comfortable solutions, you can always have it in capsules too. There is no significant difference between the two regarding absorption.

There is one thing you should always observe: the ratio of amino acids are to be at least 2:1:1 in favor of leucine. There are products with higher leucine content too, but consider this to be the minimum requirement! Leucine possesses the strongest anabolic effect of the three amino acids, so it is important to have it in right quantities within the product.

Here are some BCAA products that suit all the above:

360 gr. 
350 gr. 

So that is all to know about taking BCAA amino acids – in a nutshell. Do not forget that it is not an essential supplement, but if you can afford it, and the basics are OK (e.g. diet, vitamins, and proteins), you should include a BCAA product in your food supplement range. You will see that your body will make it worth your while!


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