What is BCAA?

Many people notice the acronym BCAA when looking at the ingredients list of their dietary supplements, but few people know what BCAAs actually are.

BCAA stand for Branch Chain Amino Acid, a key element in our biological make up. When it comes to exercise and muscle building, many people focus on protein absorption and development. However, most people do not understand that Branch Chain Amino Acids are just as important when it comes to increasing your muscle mass.

BCAAs play a key role in our body’s functionality and productivity. Over a third of our muscle mass is made up of BCAAs, and they thus play a critical role in muscle building and exercise optimization. BCAAs not only function as muscle builders, but also play key roles in many other key biological pathways such as building DNA and RNA, distributing oxygen through-out the body, and forming anti-bodies.

Why Take BCAA Supplements?

Our bodies require over 20 different amino acids to develop muscle and produce many other important molecules that play key roles in our growth and development. Humans are able to produce the majority of the amino acids we require, however there are eight to ten acids that we must obtain through either our diet or supplementation.

All sources of protein, such as red meats and dairy, are naturally rich in BCAAs. However, certain lifestyles such as vegetarianism, or medical complications such as being lactose intolerant, could cause an amino deficiency and would require supplementation.

Function of BCAA’S

During intense exercise, the body goes into a catabolic state, which means the body’s glycogen stores are being broken down and synthesized into glucose molecules by the liver. This process is triggered from the release of amino acids such as L-Alanine, which is a result of the stress exerted on the muscles during exercise.

The release of these amino acids act as a signal to the body to cease the production of protein synthesis. By adding BCAA supplements, especially during this state of stress, this signal can be reversed and the production of protein and muscle development can resume.

When should BCAA supplements be taken?

For best results, supplements should be taken before and after a workout. Usually four to eight grams is the typical amount taken; however, if high performance and a quick recovery is required, then a higher amount should be taken. Taking BCAA supplements before or during an intense workout will increase your performance, and taking them after a workout will speed up muscle recovery.


BCAA supplements are among the most beneficial and useful supplements available. Anyone who is serious about building muscle and optimizing their workouts should consider adding BCAA supplements to their diet.

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