#31 BCAA’s

By November 17, 2019Sunday Shutdown Series


What are they?

Branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) have been big business in the health and fitness industry for a while now. That being said I still get asked about them and I still know people taking them. It makes me angry sometimes.

Out of the nine amino acids that make up protein, three of them are of the branched chain variety:

The most important of the three in terms of muscle gain and maintenance is leucine, the other two have no added benefit. So here’s your first hurdle, you are paying for those extra two for no reason. No benefit, nada.

Why do people take them?

Most individuals currently taking or considering taking BCAA’s are those who actually give a sh*t about training and nutrition. They will already be taking on additional protein and be conscious of what they consume throughout the day. They will also be easy to market new products to. The thing is, if you are hitting your protein target/threshold per day then there is absolutely no benefit in taking these. The only time they may be beneficial is in super low protein meals, which you are unlikely to be eating.

The science?

An in depth review of the science conducted by Wolfe in 2017 found no human studies that showed an increase in muscle protein synthesis after taking BCAA supplements orally. And when taken intravenously it actually resulted in muscle breakdown and less muscle synthesis.

A time when they may be useful are for those participating in ultra-endurance events, think #ironman. And this is due to the severe carbohydrate depletion towards the end of the exercise period, we are talking like 6 hours in. Once your carbohydrate stores are gone, your body will start to breakdown protein to use for fuel, not ideal, but by taking BCAA’s this can limit the amount of protein broken down which is going to assist with your performance right to the end and also your recovery too.

If you are an avid BCAA user, try investing your money elsewhere and perhaps think about other areas of your diet and or nutrition which may have got you those results. #justsayin

Kate Taylor

Author Kate Taylor

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