BCAAs Effectively Build Muscle and Trim Fat

January 17, 2013 | Mitch Calvert

Must See Nutrition Videos


You've probably heard of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and their benefits. But have you ever questioned why they are so popular with people looking to build muscle?

There is no shortage of "miracle" sports supplements on the market today. However, BCAAs have stuck around and survived when others have fallen by the wayside, thanks to medically-backed research that supports their benefits.

Here are some benefits of BCAAs for athletes.

BCAAs aid in recovery and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).  A study conducted at the University of Birmingham found that taking a steady supply of BCAAs throughout the day reduced DOMS caused by high-intensity training. Study subjects took BCAAs 30 minutes before exercise, within 90 minutes after exercise, between lunch and dinner and before bed.

BCAAs may lead to greater endurance capacity. Trial research at Sacred Heart University separated nine untrained male cyclists into three groups: one took BCAAs along with a carbohydrate-rich beverage 90 minutes prior to endurance cycling trials; the second group took only carbs; and the third group took a placebo. Although no performance differences were noted, ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) were improved in the BCAA group.

BCAAs aid in muscle growth and fat loss. 
A 2011 study found that leucine, an amino acid found in BCAAs, triggers protein synthesis, and subsequently muscle growth. Leucine supplementation creates an anabolic environment by activating the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), which promotes muscle gain and fat loss. (Listen to CSCS David Pearson explain the roles of glutamine and BCAAs in the body.)

The take home message is this: you can probably get away without taking BCAAs if your diet is in check. However, for busy athletes looking for an extra edge, supplementing with BCAAs will likely improve workout performance. Remember, BCAAs are a supplement to a balanced diet. Focus primarily on quality whole foods, and fill in the gaps with BCAAs when necessary.

Mitch Calvert
- Mitch Calvert, born and raised in Canada, chose a life of health and fitness eight years ago, transforming himself from a severely overweight teenager to...
Mitch Calvert
- Mitch Calvert, born and raised in Canada, chose a life of health and fitness eight years ago, transforming himself from a severely overweight teenager to...
Must See
How to Perform the Euro Step With Iman Shumpert How to Perform the Euro Step With Iman Shumpert
Views: 86,396
Why NFL Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson Counts His Blessings Why NFL Wide Receiver DeSean Jackson Counts His Blessings
Views: 7,450,267
Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step Perfect Dwyane Wade's Signature Euro Step
Views: 1,311,827

Featured Videos

Abby Wambach's Med Ball Core Workout Abby Wambach's Med Ball Core Workout Views: 200,441
Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Views: 1,013,872
Joe Mauer's On-Field Baseball Skill Development Joe Mauer's On-Field Baseball Skill Development Views: 643,932
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,498,829
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 11,196,073
Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling Tobin Heath Closed-Space Dribbling
Views: 1,174,429
Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout
Views: 890,276
Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,332,736

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
The 6 Most Promising Weight-Loss Supplements

The 6 Most Promising Weight-Loss Supplements

3 Supplements to Boost On-Ice Performance

3 Supplements to Boost On-Ice Performance

Can Baking Soda Improve Your Training Gains?

Can Baking Soda Improve Your Training Gains?

Powder Hour: Is It Time to Add Protein Powder to Your Diet?

Powder Hour: Is It Time to Add Protein Powder to Your Diet?

Should You Be Taking BCAAs?

Should You Be Taking BCAAs?

The Truth About Muscle-Enhancing Supplements

The Truth About Muscle-Enhancing Supplements

Workout Supplements: Do You Really Need Them?

Workout Supplements: Do You Really Need Them?

6 Supplements That Power Quality Workouts

6 Supplements That Power Quality Workouts

Why Creatine Is the Best Sports Supplement

Why Creatine Is the Best Sports Supplement

Demystifying Popular Smoothie Boosters

Demystifying Popular Smoothie Boosters

3 Reasons Why You Should Take a Fish Oil Supplement

3 Reasons Why You Should Take a Fish Oil Supplement

What's Missing From the Female Athlete's Diet, Part 2: Iron

What's Missing From the Female Athlete's Diet, Part 2: Iron

The Best Post-Workout Supplements and Nutrition

The Best Post-Workout Supplements and Nutrition

2 Safe Pre-Workout Supplements

2 Safe Pre-Workout Supplements

Make Sure You're Getting Enough Calcium

Make Sure You're Getting Enough Calcium

L.A. Galaxy's Safe Supplementation for Soccer Players

L.A. Galaxy's Safe Supplementation for Soccer Players

7 Sketchy Marketing Phrases Used By Supplement Companies

7 Sketchy Marketing Phrases Used By Supplement Companies

Soy vs. Whey Protein

Soy vs. Whey Protein

Do Athletes Need Zinc Supplements?

Do Athletes Need Zinc Supplements?

Ask the Experts: Is Caffeine Safe for Athletes?

Ask the Experts: Is Caffeine Safe for Athletes?

DHEA Supplements: Should You Take Them?

DHEA Supplements: Should You Take Them?

Should I Take Creatine?

Should I Take Creatine?

HGH Use Among Teens on the Rise, According to Survey

HGH Use Among Teens on the Rise, According to Survey

This Just In: Boost Your Workout With Peppermint

This Just In: Boost Your Workout With Peppermint

How to Select a Healthy Protein Bar

How to Select a Healthy Protein Bar

Iodine: An Overlooked Essential Mineral for Female Athletes

Iodine: An Overlooked Essential Mineral for Female Athletes

Why You Can't Ignore Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition

Why You Can't Ignore Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition

The 5 Essential Sports Supplements

The 5 Essential Sports Supplements

4 Creatine Myths Exposed

4 Creatine Myths Exposed

The One Thing You Need to Do to Build Muscle

The One Thing You Need to Do to Build Muscle

5 Rules You Must Know Before Taking a Fish Oil Supplement

5 Rules You Must Know Before Taking a Fish Oil Supplement

4 Muscle-Building Supplements That Don't Work

4 Muscle-Building Supplements That Don't Work

The Positive Side Effects of Creatine (Besides Building Muscle)

The Positive Side Effects of Creatine (Besides Building Muscle)

4 Best Supplements for Football Players

4 Best Supplements for Football Players

Use Sodium Bicarbonate to Get More Out of Creatine

Use Sodium Bicarbonate to Get More Out of Creatine

The Powerful Health Benefits of Turmeric

The Powerful Health Benefits of Turmeric

EXOS Launches New Line of Supplements

EXOS Launches New Line of Supplements

ZMA: Is This Mysterious Supplement Right for You?

ZMA: Is This Mysterious Supplement Right for You?

7 Fiber Supplements: More Than Just For Weight Loss

7 Fiber Supplements: More Than Just For Weight Loss

Why You Need Vitamin D in Your Diet

Why You Need Vitamin D in Your Diet

7 Rules That Would End PED Use in Baseball Immediately

7 Rules That Would End PED Use in Baseball Immediately

Blueberry Supplements: Better Than Actual Blueberries?

Blueberry Supplements: Better Than Actual Blueberries?

Creatine Supplements: Benefits, Concerns, Types and Dosage

Creatine Supplements: Benefits, Concerns, Types and Dosage

Fuel for Thought: Gels, Bloks and Beans

Fuel for Thought: Gels, Bloks and Beans

3 Tips on Choosing the Best Post-Workout Creatine

3 Tips on Choosing the Best Post-Workout Creatine

The Best Time to Consume Creatine

The Best Time to Consume Creatine

YardBarker