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Your Guide to BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids)

For some people new to fitness nutrition lingo, trying to figure out what BCAAs is referring to may be just as difficult as trying to understand millennial abbreviations like LMAO, FOMO, and ROFL mean.

Or maybe you already know what BCAAs are, but you don’t know if you really need to include them in your fitness routine.

I’m here to tell you, you need them.

I mean, there are so many benefits of BCAAs that I don’t know why you wouldn’t want them.

What are those benefits? I’ll go into more detail in this article, but here are a few to spark your interest:

  • Recover from workouts faster
  • Lose fat, NOT muscle
  • Improve performance

Interested yet?

Keep reading to learn the science behind branched chain amino acids, and to find the best deal on our number one recommended brand!

What are BCAAs?

BCAAs, or branched-chain amino acids, are actually way more simple than they may sound.

BCAAs consist of three different types of amino acids that are especially important for muscle growth and recovery. These three amino acids are Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine.

Branched chain amino acids are mostly found in meat and eggs but the easiest way to get them is in supplement form.

What do BCAAs do?

To understand what BCAAs do, we are going to take a detailed look at each specific amino acid to see how each one benefits you.

Leucine:

Leucine is the MVP, the lead singer, the big deal of branched chain amino acids. This amino has the greatest influence on muscle growth and recovery.

Why is this important?

When you workout out as a lifter, swimmer, rock climber, or anything in between, you create tiny tears in your muscle fibers.

These tiny tears can often cause soreness, scientifically referred to as DOMS. (There I go again, throwing in another acronym for you to debunk.)

DOMS stands for delayed onset muscle soreness, or in simple terms, your muscles hurt and moving can be a struggle.

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

DOMS can occur 12-24 hours after physical activity and leaves you feeling stiff, achy, and makes squatting to use the toilet surprisingly difficult.

For some, that sore feeling may seem like an accomplishment, but for those who want or need to workout on a daily basis, it can be a downright nuisance.

So how do you avoid DOMS and limping around like you’ve been mortally wounded?

One way is to Include a BCAAs supplement! The Leucine will help prevent major muscle damage and assist your body to recover faster.

Isoleucine:

This branched chain amino acid is going to be your new best friend during workouts.

Isoleucine increases your body’s capacity to use glucose, especially during activity.

This means you’ll have more energy for your workouts and the glucose (carbs) you eat will be more efficiently used rather than stored as extra padding for your behind.

When you consume carbohydrates, two things can occur: the sugars are either used as energy, reserved in glycogen stores, or stored as fat.

Most of us have enough fat on our bodies and don’t need anymore. This is why Isoleucine and branched chain amino acids are helpful. Isoleucine helps regulate blood sugars, preventing harmful insulin spikes and drops.

Valine:

Valine has similar properties as Isoleucine and Leucine and works best when combined with them.

Valine, like Leucine, helps your body recover and stimulates muscle growth. Like Isoleucine, valine helps with the uptake and usage of glucose and it may play an important role in muscle coordination and brain function.

Why Use Branched Chain Amino Acids?

I’ve already mentioned some of the benefits of BCAAs, but that was only scratching the surface.

Here are four more impressive benefits of BCAAs:

1.You’ll recover faster.

One study found that branched chain amino acids reduced muscle damage. Another study found those who took a BCAAs supplement before and after a strenuous workout had faster recovery times.

Sprint Workout

This means you will be able to workout more often at higher intensities while avoiding possible muscle soreness and risk of injury. How many times have you skipped a workout because you were, “too sore”?

More training and less muscle fatigue will mean greater gains in strength and endurance.

2. You’ll lose fat, not muscle.

Research has shown that those who include a BCAAs supplement are more likely to lose unwanted fat while keeping lean body mass.

Many times when people are trying to build muscle and lose fat, they actually lose both. Additionally, beginning in your 30s, you actually begin to lose lean muscle and usually replace it with fat. A natural yet unfortunate process called sarcopenia.

By being physically active, including some kind of strength routine, and including the right kinds of supplements (like BCAAs) you can reduce muscle loss over time.

Branched chain amino acids can also help with muscle retention, keeping you lean and active as you age. How?

By keeping your muscles properly fueled with amino acids from BCAAs, you spare muscle tissue.

Muscle tissue can and is used for energy by the body, especially when calories are restricted and during endurance sports like marathons. Reduce muscle loss with a BCAA supplement!

3. You’ll improve performance.

A study conducted back in the 90s found, “that both mental and physical performance was improved by an intake of BCAA during exercise.”

This is because when amino acids are used for energy, your body prefers to use the amino acids valine, leucine, and isoleucine (aka BCAAs).

Understanding what each of the three BCAAs do, and considering that all amino acids are responsible for every important function in your body, these types of conclusions seem obvious.

Fitness Determination

If you’ve been doing any kind of sport or physical activity long, you know that it is just as much a mental game as well as physical.

Branched chain amino acids can help boost your mental capacity and keep you in top physical condition to perform your best.

4. They are effective and convenient.

You now know that branched chain amino acids are extremely important, but why supplement them? Why not just eat them naturally in your food?

I’m all about getting my nutrition through my food whenever possible, but for most people getting all the essential nutrients we need naturally in the diet can be difficult.

I’m not saying it can’t be done, but I am saying that supplements can make life much easier.

For example, you would have to eat 4 whole eggs to get the same amount of BCAAs that you could get in one calorie free powder scoop of BCAAs.

Scoop of BCAAs

If you’re aiming for the recommended 5g of BCAAs before and after a workout, that’s 8 eggs and 560 calories to get 10g of branched chain amino acids that you could get for zero calories.

Besides supplementing being a simple way to get the needed protein and BCAAs in the diet, the powdered form of BCAAs is digested and absorbed quickly by the body.

The BCAAs found naturally in foods such as eggs and beef, take much longer to digest and cannot be immediately used by the body.

When Do You Take BCAAs?

Generally, before and after a workout take one serving or 5-10g of BCAAs. These are the times when your body most needs amino acids.

Others find it helpful to sip on their BCAAs drink during their workout for added energy and hydration.

Those looking to preserve muscle mass may take a serving of branched chain amino acids in the morning.

When you wake up, your body is in a fasted state. Since you haven’t eaten all night long, you are probably burning muscle as a source of energy.

This is bad news if you want to preserve that hard earned lean mass! Taking BCAAs in the morning with a healthy protein filled breakfast can end this muscle breakdown and give you an energy boost to start your day.

What Brand of BCAAs are the Best?

Our number one, go to brand of BCAAs is IdealLean.

IdealLean BCAAs

Not only does IdealLean BCAAs have the ideal amount and ratio of amino acids, but they also include a fat loss blend unique from any other brand on the market.

Here is what you will find in IdealLean BCAAs:

  • An optimal ratio of 2:1:1

This means there is slightly more grams of Leucine than Isoleucine, and Valine. Research supports that Leucine is the most important of the three BCAAs and that this ratio is best for performance and recovery.

  • Green tea and CLA

Green tea has been shown in several studies to increase fat burning and to aid in physical performance. CLA is an omega 6 fatty acid. Some studies have found it has a positive effect on weight loss and improves body composition.

  • Coconut powder

Coconut is one of the most hydrating substances in the world and can help improve workouts.

  • Additional amino acids L-Citrulline and L-Glutamine

L-Citrulline is known for its sports performance properties and L-Glutamine may help increase lean muscle mass.

  • Zero calories and 2 delicious flavors

With IdealLean BCAAs, you get to choose from two tasty flavors that you’ll actually want to drink, Green Apple or Raspberry Lemonade. Each scoop is calorie free, so you don’t have to worry about extra calories.

Mountain Biking

Branched chain amino acids can bring your performance, physique, and fitness to the next level.

They have been well studied and aid in recovery, muscle growth, maintenance, and physical and mental performance during your workouts.

Try our top recommended BCAAs supplement, IdealLean and start seeing a difference today!

102 Comments

  1. Laura Alioto

    Love your advice-
    Going to try
    Have been trying to tone
    Arms and lower legs coming along-
    Need to be stricter with my diet and supplements-
    Thanks! Laura

  2. Shannon martin

    Would bcaas help me recover from my already injured quad muscle? Its been 3 weeks since I could work out because of it.

    1. Amy Posey
      Amy Posey

      Sorry to hear about your injury! During the healing and recovery process, your body needs amino acids to repair and heal itself so BCAAs would probably help you! Eating anti-inflammatory foods may also help speed up the recovery process 🙂 hope you heal soon!

  3. Kelli

    Have a severe nut allergy ? Safe to use the idealean product?

    1. Amy Posey
      Amy Posey

      The IdealLean products don’t have nuts themselves, but they are processed in a facility that processes nuts.

  4. Laura

    I have just had a baby and ready to get back into my pre-baby fitness. I am breastfeeding and was wondering if this would be safe to take while breastfeeding?

    1. Amy Posey
      Amy Posey

      Hey Laura! Congrats on being a mom! It’s always safest for you and your baby to check with your doctor before taking a supplement.

  5. Michelle Hayes

    I noticed something about coconut water? Do they all have that? I am allergic to coconut flavoring.

    1. Amy Posey
    1. Amy Posey
  6. Kris

    What about potassium levels in this ?
    My potassium levels soar when I take supplements , collagen and do shakes with yogurt spinach broccoli and berries
    Not sure what does it
    I assume supplements but also know all ingredients in my shakes are high in potassium
    So many products don’t list potassium
    I about killed myself trying to to stay healthy
    So I’m off all of it and Leary to take anything

    1. Amy Posey
  7. Georganna

    I drink BCAAs during and after my morning workout (I workout first thing in the morning at 4:45). I aim to drink at least a gallon of water a day. I like to add a serving of BCAAs to my gallon of water and drink it throughout the day. Am I overdoing my intake of BCAAs? I find that the added flavor helps me get all of my water in. Thanks!!!!

    1. Amy Posey
  8. Teresa

    What are your favorite flavors of IdealLean BCAA? I just bought the Orange Paradise and it’s anything but paradise. Very bitter! I’m not sure I’ll be able to choke it down.

    1. Amy Posey
      Amy Posey

      Sorry to hear that Teresa! Maybe you got a bad tub, orange paradise is typically very sweet and tasty! They also have grape explosion, raspberry lemonade, and green apple. My favorite is raspberry lemonade 🙂

  9. Magdalena DeJesus

    I am 50 year old woman been very active all my life. Now I can seem to lose any weight or get tone at all. Also my pace in running as slow down tremendously. I try so many different workout programs and nothing.

    Try shakeology, 310 nutrion you name it. Suggestion.

    1. Amy Posey
    2. Jennifer P

      Have you tried OrangeTheory Fitness? Would definitely suggest looking into it. The studio where I go has great age range, from 20s to 60s at least, maybe older.

      1. Tracy

        OrangeTheory is amazing! I am 45 and haven’t always worked out but have been active. This has changed my life! I highly recommend checking it out. I love the Idealshape meal replacement shakes too!

    1. Amy Posey
  10. Mark

    I’ve heard lots of people say BCAAs are useless, but everything you’ve written here seems to say otherwise (and you’ve got studies to prove it). I’m still not sure who to believe!

    1. Amy Posey
      Amy Posey

      Hey Mark! Everyone has different opinions when it comes to supplements because they may work differently for each person. But of course, we like to have lots of scientific proof (aka studies) showing that something works. We’ve found that BCAAs are quite effective! Try them out and see if they help you towards your goals 🙂

  11. Sharon

    Why do they say that you need to be over 18 years to take them?

    1. Amy Posey
      Amy Posey

      Hey Sharon, most supplements were designed for adult bodies (18 and older). Teens and kids are still growing and developing and usually don’t need supplements besides maybe a multivitamin.

  12. Cindy

    Can u only order on line or can u buy it in store how much is it

    1. Amy Posey
    1. Amy Posey
    1. Amy Posey
  13. Jackie

    I like to work out after work, around 6pm. Will this keep me from sleeping because of the green tea?

    1. Amy Posey
  14. Erika

    I am trying to GAIN weight, and have added more protein to my diet, and have tried many different supplements. What do you recommend with the BCAA’s?

  15. Victoria ramos

    Can I drink this and my protein shake after my workout, or should I drink bcaa before and protein after?

    1. Amy Posey
      Amy Posey

      You can drink both after if you want! We recommend sipping on the BCAAs during your workout and drinking a shake after.

    1. Amy Posey
  16. Jennifer

    I am sensitive to too much caffeine, and I usually can’t work out until 7 or 8pm. Will the bcaa’s kep me up at night since it has green tea in it?

    1. Amy Posey
      Amy Posey

      Hey Jennifer! There is green tea in the BCAAs, but no caffeine (less than 1mg per serving) so you they won’t keep you up!

  17. Rebecca

    Is there any promo codes you have laying around? Lol. I’d like to buy, but a discount would be nice!

    1. Amy Posey
  18. Suzanne

    Can they be added to protein and if so is there a non flavored one?

    1. Amy Posey
  19. Ami Grates

    I am looking for a supplement that does not contain sucralose. What sweetener do you use in your supps?

    1. Amy Posey
    1. Amy Posey
  20. Jessie

    I was wondering about the green tea in this product..
    For people that have anxiety… How much caffeine goes into a serving of this?

    1. Amy Posey
      Amy Posey

      Hey Jessie, there’s only .25 mg of caffeine per serving, which won’t cause any effects. You should be fine!

  21. Debby

    I bought the apple flavor much to sweet for me!!! Can i cut it with more water?

    1. Amy Posey
  22. Vernon salter

    I am interested in this product I would to order some information this

  23. Vernon salter

    I like your advertisement am interested in your products send me information on

    1. Amy Posey
  24. Emi

    Could you please tell me if there are any differences between power BCAA and capsule?
    Thanks!

    1. Amy Posey
      Amy Posey

      Hey Emi, there isn’t much difference as long as you get quality brands for both! Powders are usually flavored and capsules aren’t. That’s really the only difference.

  25. Leslie Crumb

    How does preworkout and BCAAS function together? Not sure I could handle both before a workout.

    1. Amy Posey
      Amy Posey

      Hey Leslie, pre-workout helps give you extra energy before a workout, you would drink some 30 min before you actually workout. BCAAs, when sipped during a workout, can help reduce soreness later and give your muscles the amino acids they need. You definitely don’t need to drink both, but can be used together like that 🙂

  26. Chelsea

    Can/Should you use BCAAs if you’re just beginning to workout? I’m not entirely sure if it necessary to take.

    1. Amy Posey
      Amy Posey

      Hey Chelsea, yes you can take BCAAs if you are a beginner or an expert when it comes to working out. They can be helpful to everyone!

    1. Amy Posey
      Amy Posey

      No, BCAAs won’t affect blood pressure. But you should always check with your doctor before taking any supplement.

    1. Amy Posey
  27. Lori

    How long before the BCAAS work? I have been taking for a week and don’t really notice a difference

    1. Amy Posey
  28. Cynthia V.

    I’ve seen BCAA with 8:1:1 ration as opposed to your 2:1:1, which is better? Higher or lower?

    Thanks.

  29. Barbie

    I had my first serving of raspberry lemonade today, and I love the flavor. When I first opened the container I was concerned because it smells like a shake. It does not taste that way at all. My plan is to take one serving pre-workout three times per week and get a new in body scan when I finish the container. I’m looking for a lower body fat and increase in muscle mass. Wish me luck and willpower to keep eating healthy-ish;)

  30. Dana

    Wow. I’ve been taking these but lot sure why! Best explanation I’ve seen yet! I still can barely walk and move after my workouts, I’m going to keep taking them!! Thank you 😊

  31. Christy

    I’m 3 months pregnant is it safe to have bcaas? What’s your opinion

  32. Madison

    I’m trying to just loose fat and not gain any more muscle. I feel like I’m getting a little bulky with muscle. Should I start taking bcaas?

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