BCAAs are Branched Chain Amino Acids which consist of L-Valine, L-Isoleucine and L-Leucine, which is the most anabolic of the 3. The benefits of these powerhouse amino acids include faster recovery from training, muscle repair and helps prevent and delay muscle breakdown. These are just a few benefits out of several.
Those that are dieting in a very strict manor may be putting themselves in a catabolic (muscle breakdown) mode as the body is often very reluctant to break down fat but instead will go after muscle for glucose to fuel the brain and body, etc. BCAAs help to prevent this and preserve our valuable muscle. After all, we work hard in the gym and kitchen to build and maintain muscle due to its positive influence on our metabolic rate and how it burns calories (fat) for us.
BCAAs also stimulate and help to create an anabolic (building) environment for our body. Sipping on some BCAAs before, during and/or after a workout can be a tremendous benefit for recovery and our progress from a fitness/nutrition program striving to achieve better body composition.
But What About Whey Protein?
Whey protein as many may know, is well know for being high in BCAAs. Aside from the fact that whey is absorbed rapidly once consumed, it is the preferred choice of protein following an intense training session. One may ask: why not just consume more whey to get more BCAAs?
The BCAAs in whey are peptide-bound to other amino acids and, in order to be effective, must be taken up through digestion and then absorbed into the bloodstream. Even though whey protein is relatively fast digesting, it still takes several hours for all the amino acids to be absorbed into the bloodstream.
BCAAs in supplement form are free form, require no digestion, and are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. They spike blood amino acid levels to a much greater and faster extent than peptide-bound aminos. Even a few grams of free-form BCAAs will spike BCAA plasma levels to a much greater extent than a 20g dose of whey protein, thereby impacting protein synthesis and reducing muscle breakdown to a much greater degree.
The reason BCAA supplements have such a powerful effect on blood BCAA levels is that, unlike other amino acids, BCAAs are not significantly metabolized by the small intestine or the liver. Therefore, an oral supplement is more like a BCAA infusion because it reaches the bloodstream so rapidly.
What is The Verdict? Where Would I Find a Good One?
Long story short, these guys are incredibly helpful regardless of how you want to use them. The beauty of them is you can add some to a water bottle or shake, etc anytime you want and get some benefits. One of my favorites is a product called SizeSlim “Intra/Post”. The ratio is 9:1:1 in favor of Luecine and also has its “big brother” HICA added in also. And it has some other goodies tossed in the formula that are a huge compliment to your immune system and recovery. Check it out at and hear me explain it at:
Best in fitness,
Roger Bowman, CPT