Debunking Popular Supplements: BCAAs

By Morgen Cote

What in the world is a BCAA? What does it stand for? When do I take it? Why would I need to take it? 

One thing I have found in the fitness world is that proper supplementation can be a huge help. So let’s answer those questions for you. 

BCAA stands for Branched Chain Amino Acids, a group of three essential aminos acids (leucine, isoleucine and valine).  Overall, we have 20 amino acids in our body that are the building blocks of muscles and are important for overall body function. Most of those amino acids our body can produce on its own but there are a handful (nine, to be exact) that are called essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are not naturally occurring in our bodies so we must obtain them through food or supplementation. BCAAs fall into that essential category, which is why this supplement is important.

BCAAs have been proven to have many benefits and can help in many ways outside of sports or exercise:
  • Sport performance
  • Reducing the breakdown of muscle
  • Reducing muscle fatigue
  • Diabetes
  • Liver Disease
  • Decreasing muscle depletion from anorexia
  • Reducing muscle loss for those who are ill or hospitalized

It is  most beneficial to consume BCAAs when taken within 30 minutes pre or post workout but they can also be taken at any point in the day. The supplement typically come in a soluble powder that you mix with water. It comes in an array of flavors so it’s great to be able to switch it up and try new flavors! 

A question that is commonly asked is, “will BCAAs make me bulky/gain muscle?”

Just taking supplements alone will not turn you into Kai Greene. You would have to train many hours and for many years with the intent of putting on a lot of mass to gain the amount of muscle needed to have that bulky look.  So do not fret, you are in the clear. This is not a mystical supplement that will grow your muscles for you. 

Overall, BCAAs are extremely beneficial,  important for proper bodily functions and can be taken for multiple reasons not just sport performance. 

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