BCAAs Effectively Build Muscle and Trim Fat | STACK
X

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

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
Dwight Howard Stays in the Gym All Night
Views: 3,537,502
Michael Jordan: Mind of a Champion
Views: 542,962
Skylar Diggins Attacks the Off-Season On and Off the Court
Views: 2,806,222

Featured Videos

James Harden Core Circuit Views: 111,932
Path to the Pros 2015: Melvin Gordon Views: 17
Quest for the Ring: University of Kentucky Views: 543,285
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

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

The Best Time to Consume Creatine

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

Iodine: An Overlooked Essential Mineral for Female Athletes

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

Use Sodium Bicarbonate to Get More Out of Creatine

Should You Be Taking BCAAs?

The Best Post-Workout Supplements and Nutrition

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

6 Supplements That Power Quality Workouts

This Just In: Boost Your Workout With Peppermint

Make Sure You're Getting Enough Calcium

The Powerful Health Benefits of Turmeric

Workout Supplements: Do You Really Need Them?

The One Thing You Need to Do to Build Muscle

HGH Use Among Teens on the Rise, According to Survey

Creatine Supplements: Benefits, Concerns, Types and Dosage

7 Sketchy Marketing Phrases Used By Supplement Companies

Ask the Experts: Is Caffeine Safe for Athletes?

Should I Take Creatine?

Demystifying Popular Smoothie Boosters

4 Muscle-Building Supplements That Don't Work

EXOS Launches New Line of Supplements

Do Athletes Need Zinc Supplements?

Why Creatine Is the Best Sports Supplement

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

Fuel for Thought: Gels, Bloks and Beans

3 Reasons Why You Should Take a Fish Oil Supplement

The Positive Side Effects of Creatine (Besides Building Muscle)

DHEA Supplements: Should You Take Them?

How to Select a Healthy Protein Bar

4 Creatine Myths Exposed

3 Supplements to Boost On-Ice Performance

4 Best Supplements for Football Players

The 5 Essential Sports Supplements

The Truth About Muscle-Enhancing Supplements

2 Safe Pre-Workout Supplements

5 Rules You Must Know Before Taking a Fish Oil Supplement

The 6 Most Promising Weight-Loss Supplements

7 Fiber Supplements: More Than Just For Weight Loss

7 Rules That Would End PED Use in Baseball Immediately

Why You Need Vitamin D in Your Diet

Blueberry Supplements: Better Than Actual Blueberries?

Can Baking Soda Improve Your Training Gains?

ZMA: Is This Mysterious Supplement Right for You?

3 Tips on Choosing the Best Post-Workout Creatine

Soy vs. Whey Protein