Features of BCAA and their value to the athlete

All essential amino acids for humans are extremely important, but it is the BCAA complex that is of great importance for athletes.


Distinctive features of BCAA

In the human body, there are more than two dozen amino acids, each of which performs a certain function. All of them can be divided into two groups: interchangeable and irreplaceable amino acids. The first are synthesized by the body, and the latter can only come with food and special food additives. It is in the second group that there are 3 amino acids that differ from others by a branched molecular structure – valine, leucine and isoleucine, united by the term BCAA (branched-chain amino acids).

How they work

BCAA action is very versatile, so they are successfully used by athletes for different purposes.

For muscle growth

BCAA amino acids are the main material for building new muscle tissue. They account for more than a third of all amino acids in the muscles. Read the article about Gainer.

In people who do not engage in sports and do not pursue the goal of building muscle mass, the need for these amino acids is covered by the intake of protein included in the daily diet.


Given regular strength training, BCAA reserves are rapidly depleted and additional sources of their supply are needed to create conditions for the effective recovery and growth of muscle fibers. Thus, taking BCAA for a set of muscle mass brings the athlete closer to the desired goal.

As an energy source

During training, the body triggers oxidation processes that release glucose – the source of energy needed for quality training. It’s bad that for this the body has to destroy its own muscles, launching the catabolic process. An additional intake of BCAA inhibits catabolism and supplies leucine, another powerful energetic. And since he works on a path other than glucose, the body has two sources of energy with a minimum level of catabolism.

For the synthesis of glutamine

BCAA is the source for the synthesis of glutamine, another amino acid, without which quality training and recovery is impossible. Here’s what the glutamine deficiency leads to:

  1. Overtraining;
  2. Decreased immune function;
  3. Decreased production of growth hormone;
  4. Activation of catabolic processes.

A sufficient amount of valine, leucine and isoleucine help synthesize the glutamine necessary to the athlete directly in the muscles.

For fat burning

Amino acids BCAA stimulate the production of such hormones as insulin and leptin. With insulin, everything is more or less clear – it regulates glucose levels, controls appetite and participates in metabolic processes. Leptin is an even more complex hormone, incredibly important for a person seeking to lose weight.


The more fat cells in the body, adipocytes, the higher the leptin level. As soon as a person changes his habitual diet, reduces carbohydrate intake, reduces daily calorie intake and connects physical loads, the level of leptin dries dramatically, which leads to increased appetite and a slowing of metabolism. That is, without this hormone the body does everything to preserve and increase its fat stores. Leucine restores the level of leptin in the body, which makes taking BCAA for weight loss extremely important.

The effectiveness of these essential amino acids is confirmed by numerous studies and scientific works. Manufacturers of sports nutrition often offer products, the need for which is rather doubtful, but a complex of leucine, isoleucine and valine really helps to significantly improve their performance. The source of energy and strength, quick recovery, building up lean muscle mass and helping with fat burning – that’s what BCAA is.

Features of BCAA

Intensive training drains the reserves of essential amino acids in the body, which leads to the destruction of muscle fibers, a reduction in strength and even a decline in strength. These processes suggest when to take BCAA will be the most correct.

Time and frequency of admission on training days

So, regardless of whether the training is aimed at fat burning or muscle growth, the BCAA complex should be taken at the very beginning. This will provide the athlete with quality training, and the muscles – the necessary support and nutrition. In order to not inhibit the process of recovery and growth of muscle fibers, the next batch of BCAA should be taken immediately after the end of the workout.

Important: if the athlete chooses soluble, not tabletted BCAA, they should be taken also during training. This approach will provide the muscles with a constant and more even supply of amino acids and fluids.

Since the most active regeneration processes occur during sleep, it is advisable to consume a portion of amino acids at night. By the way, after high-intensity strength training this will help to minimize pain in the muscles.

When recruiting muscle mass, you can combine the BCAA with other types of sports nutrition: protein, ginger or creatine.

The benefits of BCAA will be noticeable to those who are striving to lose weight. The BCAA complex helps suppress appetite and activate the fat burning process by producing leptin. To this end, you can arrange additional receptions of amino acids during the day. However, if there is a question of economy, they can be replaced with a protein cocktail.

Time and frequency of reception on days of rest

To avoid such a phenomenon as morning catabolism and to charge muscles with energy, on the day of rest it is recommended to take a portion of amino acids immediately after awakening. Another BCAA reception will not interfere with sleep, especially if the next day the athlete is waiting for morning exercise.


The average portion of BCAA intake ranges from 5 to 10 grams. Frequency of admission – up to 3-4 times a day on training days and 1-2 times on days of rest.

This dosage covers the athlete’s need for BCAA provided sufficient amino acids are present in the products of his diet.

BCAA drink
BCAA drink

Forms of release

When choosing the essential amino acids should be guided, above all, the reliability of the manufacturer and dosage. Do not be deceived that by buying a cheap product with a lower content of the substance, it will be possible to save. Well, if the dosage starts with 5 grams of BCAA in a dose.

  • Capsules.Comfortable form and neutral taste, fast dissolution.
  • Pills.They have a slightly bitter aftertaste, some time is required for dissolution and absorption.
  • Powder.Can be pure or with a fruity taste, quickly digested.
  • Liquid. Liquid BCAA – are available in the form of a concentrate, soluble in water, as well as in mono doses. Have a high rate of absorption, the least profitable of all forms of release.

Possible contraindications

As meat or cottage cheese can not harm the body, an additional BCAA reception will not do the same. These substances are completely safe, can be taken regardless of the age and level of training of the athlete, and do not require breaks in admission.

Amino acids are compatible with other types of sports nutrition and can even increase its effectiveness. The only thing you should not do is combine BCAA and alcohol. Drinking beverages, even with a low alcohol content, adversely affects anabolism, contributes to the growth of fat mass and slows down metabolic processes, which nullifies all efforts and makes the intake of amino acids meaningless.

BCAA amino acids in products

In what quantities are essential amino acids in food? Record champions for the number of BCAA are chicken breast and eggs, beef, tuna, salmon, turkey – the most popular food for athletes. So, for example, a portion of a chicken breast weighing 150 grams contains about 6 grams of BCAA.

In addition, you can find essential amino acids in plant foods. The most rich are legumes (beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas), nuts (cashew, peanuts) and many seeds (pumpkin, flax, sunflower).