Basics of BCAA's

Lets talk sports supplements!

In addition to proper nutrition and an appropriate exercise plan, supplements are an extra add in to your fitness goals. They are SUPPLEMENTARY to your diet and can be beneficial when taken at certain times.

Specifically, branched-chain amino acids, also known as BCAA’S, are a popular supplement when it comes to exercise and fitness.

What exactly are BCAA’s you ask? We’ve all heard the name and seen them in the fitness industry, but what exactly are they and how do they work?


Well, branched-chain amino acids are made up of three main amino acids,

1.     Valine à Muscle metabolism, tissue repair and energy for muscles

2.     Isoleucine à encourages glucose uptake into cells and promotes energy levels in recovering from an intense workout

3.     Leucine à role in muscle protein synthesis


What they are:
The make up of BCAA’s are three amino acids. Amino acids are the break down and make up of protein, which are the building blocks for muscle and strength building.

BCAA’s has an anabolic effect (anabolic = building up) on protein metabolism by increasing the rate of protein synthesis and decreasing the amount of protein degradation (muscle loss) in resting muscles. These three amino acids are 3/8 essential amino acids to the body and cannot be made within the body, and so they are relied on through intake from food or supplementation.

Supplementation is not necessary for amino acids are found within protein foods (eggs, meats etc.) but they can be supplemented if an individual is on a low protein diet to prevent muscle loss, promote muscle synthesis over time and to prevent fatigue.



What do they do?

BCAAs assist in recovery from endurance activities, through supplementation of replenishing the three amino acids. Amino acids can improve recovery during and post exercise while preventing muscle loss and prevent fatigue by reducing the amount of serotonin production in the brain (the hormone that controls sleep, stimulation, mood and appetite). BCAA’s compete with the amino acid tryptophan, which is a component of serotonin, which increases fatigue during a workout.

As discussed in the Fasted Training post, BCAA’s can be super beneficial when in a fasted state because the amino acids valine and isoleucine are considered to be glucogenic, meaning they can be converted into glucose = an energy source for muscles! The influence on protein metabolism on muscles has an immediate impact of protein synthesis and protein degradation. BCAA’s require no digestion and are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream upon consumption, increasing energy and preventing muscle fatigue when in a fasted state.


There are many forms and brands of BCAA’s on the market so which one to choose? Fist, always check the nutrient label and ingredients when purchasing and look for:

- Ratio of 2:1:1 of leucine to isoleucine, and valine

- Avoid supplements that contain artificial sweeteners (sucralose) and artificial colours/ dyes. Instead opt for stevia sweetened or a natural, unflavoured brand!