Why and When Should You Take BCAAs?

Let’s talk about Branched Chained Amino Acids, more commonly known as BCAAs. In this article, you’ll find out all about their composition, the best ratio to take, as well as the timings of consumption.

We’ll also dive into who should be taking BCAA supplements, why you should take them, and when to take them.

Starting a fitness journey is never easy, but using the right tools to fuel your routine is fully essential. BCAAs are necessary for workout recovery and muscle maintenance making them the go-to’s of bodybuilders and weight trainers alike.


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What Are BCAAs?

In the body, there are 2 main types of amino acids: essential and non-essential. Within the 9 essential amino acids that are known to exist there are 3 BCAAs, but this group of amino acids have a set of specific and unique chemical properties.

As a whole, the body requires BCAAs for sustaining muscle, maintaining an anabolic environment and sometimes increasing athletics performance through the stimulation of protein synthesis – an important process in muscle growth and recovery.


BCAAs Composition

BCAAs exist as 3 individual compounds: Leucine, Iso-leucine & Valine. Each of these amino acids holds unique properties, with Leucine being a key component. Unlike other amino acids, BCAAs have a unique chemical structure which allows them to be absorbed and metabolized directly in the muscles- rather than the stomach. This means they are more quickly absorbed than any other amino acids.


Why Should I Take BCAAs?

Let’s consider a guy who wants to achieve a lean physique and aspires for the perfect beach body through training and good nutrition. For leaning up, a training program would involve some extensive cardio with a calorie deficit diet – meaning your body is not getting the total amount of calorie it requires to sustain your size. BCAAs can protect you from catabolism, which is when your body breakdowns muscle, as well as fat, for energy.

So if you are cutting and in a calorie deficit then BCAAs are very important to prevent muscle loss. Exercising in a calorie deficit means there are no glycogen stores available for energy, so muscle protein is broken down into amino acids that can be utilized as energy. By supplementing with BCAA’s you can saturate your muscles to provide adequate muscle energy and an anabolic environment.


When Should I Take BCAAs?

BCAAs are effective intra and post-workout supplements. This means that you should be consuming BCAAs during your gym session or immediately after.

This is because BCAAs are effective in helping to build and repair muscle damaged from intense sessions. BCAAs effects peak about 30 to 60 minutes post consumption.

In turn, you’re going to want to drink your BCAAs in that window to maximize muscle recovery and to help build muscle. This will help with muscle soreness post-workout.


Who Should Take BCAAs?

BCAAs are important sports nutrition tools for building and repairing muscle damaged from high intensity training. They help to reduce muscle soreness.

In this way, BCAAs are great tools for anyone experiencing rough recovery from weekly workouts. They may be effective for helping alleviate some of the soreness you’re experiencing.

BCCAs, in combination with protein powder, are effective in helping to build muscle. If gaining muscle or maintaining muscle are part of your fitness goals, BCCAs are a good avenue for you to explore.

In short, athletes experiencing muscle soreness or wanting to build muscle should take BCAAs.

They are especially important for bodybuilders, weight lifters, and cross trainers.

bcaa amino acid supplements

BCAA Dosage


Many people incorporate cardio into their regimes multiple times a week, both in the mornings and evenings. During cardio, BCAAs can come handy – especially in the case of HIIT cardio routines or steady state cardio.

When performing intense levels of cardio this can often burn fat and muscle too. Incorporating a low-calorie diet and more of cardio will initiate muscle breakdown at a higher rate, which we want to avoid. To counteract this try supplementing with BCAAs, the moment you start your cardio. Add 5g to your shaker and sip on them throughout your cardio regime.


Pre & Post Workout

There are two crucial times to supplement with BCAA’s: Pre- and post-workout. Many pre-workout formulas contain BCAAs. Make sure before hitting the gym you take BCAAs with your pre-workout meal.

Following the gym make sure you consume a further 5-10 g of BCAAs either on their own or within a post workout shake. Many people benefit from supplementing with BCAAs upon waking and just before bed, to promote muscle recovery and growth.



You can supplement 10-20 g of BCAAs daily. BCAAs come in a number of different sources including as pills, powders or within whey protein, such as Impact Whey.

Within whey protein, these amino acids are peptide bound. Being peptide bound still provides the same benefits, but these BCAA’s are thought to be less bioavailable than those found in BCAA supplements. This means they are not absorbed as quickly by muscles in the body.  If you are going to purchase a BCAA supplement it is important to consider the Leucine: Isoleucine: Valine ratio which should be at least 2:1:1- with Leucine being a chief muscle recovery component.


Best BCAA Supplements

BCAA 4:1:1

This product contains an optimal 4:1:1 ratio of Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine, which can help to improve your body’s ability to build muscle.


BCAA Tablets

This supplement has been innovated to prevent muscle breakdown, helping you to retain muscle mass.


Take Home Message

BCAAs are essential to reduce the catabolism process and breaking down of cells to release amino acids for fuelling the body. Taking BCAAs reduces muscle breakdown and increases protein synthesis, while also providing energy for workouts. BCAAs should be incorporated into your dietary regime and workouts whether your aim is to gain mass or cut.

BCAAs are an absolute essential for anyone consistently bodybuilding or weight lifting. If you work out on a consistent and intense exercise schedule, BCAAs are must haves.

They help prevent or reduce muscle soreness by repairing damaged muscle and they even help to build muscle mass.

If those are aspects of your workout routine that you’re looking to improve, you should definitely be taking BCAA supplements.

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Our articles should be used for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to be taken as medical advice. If you’re concerned, consult a health professional before taking dietary supplements or introducing any major changes to your diet.

Gareth Gray

Gareth Gray

Experienced Sports Nutrition Technologist

Gareth Gray is an experienced sports nutrition new product development technologist. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Health and a Master of Science in Sports and Exercise Nutrition. Gareth’s scientific research expertise involves the investigation into the effects of recovery drinks upon sports performance and recovery. He has several years’ experience in designing, formulating and developing sports nutrition products using evidence-based research, from laboratory testing to full-scale production and manufacturing. He regularly attends continuing professional development events and sports nutrition conferences to ensure his practise remains at the highest level. Find out more about Gareth’s experience here: In his spare time, Gareth enjoys working on his own physique in the gym, as well as cooking nutritious meals – where he believes balance is key and advocates the odd cheat meal now and again.