When To Take BCAA Supplements For The Best Results

When To Take BCAA Supplements

When To Take BCAA Supplements

Branched chained amino acids, also known as BCAAs are arguably one of the most mysterious of your nutritional supplements. While many people know about the existence of BCAAs, they don’t know exactly what they do for you. BCAAs are an incredibly effective supplement when taken at the right time and in the right amount. Branched Chained Amino Acids (BCAAs) got their name because, from a chemical structure standpoint, they have forked outcroppings which look like a branch. Leucine, isoleucine, and valine are the three essential amino acids forming BCAAs.

In a study, the trained triathlete who consumed BCAA supplements for eight weeks gained about twice as much muscle mass and strength as compared to the athletes who only took a whey protein supplement without additional BCAAs. The results rely a lot on the time you consume the supplement so you should know when to take BCAA supplements.

However, are BCAAs like protein powder where you take them after your workout? Or should you take them with your pre-workout? Or are BCAAs good for your intra-workout to help you recover between your sets? These are all viable questions, so let’s take a look what these supplements do, and when to take BCAAS for the best results.

RELATED: Check out the top BCAA Supplements for Recovery here

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Difference Between Amino Acids and Branched Chained Amino Acids

Most people have a hard time differentiating between regular amino acids and branched chained amino acids. Both of these supplements are processed uniquely by your body and have different effects on your physique. Understanding the difference between them can help to tell you when to take BCAA supplements.

As you probably already know, your muscles are made up of proteins. Protein is further made up of amino acids which look like a pearl necklace. If you want to build muscle, you want this pearl necklace to get bigger so your body can make more protein. This process of converting amino acids into protein is known as protein synthesis.

The BCAAs are indispensable components in the aforementioned process of converting amino acids into protein. They act as the building blocks for building muscle. Each of the three branched chained amino acids plays a vital role in this process.

When you consume amino acids, they go directly to your liver. In the liver, they are either converted into fuel to be used as energy by your body or are passed for building and repairing muscle. Your muscles will only receive the amino acids if they’re not converted into energy.

BCAAs are treated differently. They are not sent to the liver and head straight to your muscles where the muscles use them as fuel or to build and repair themselves. This is the reason BCAAs have grown in popularity in the bodybuilding community.

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Role of The Three Amino Acids

Why and when you need to take BCAA supplements has a lot to do with the role they play in bodybuilding. Apart from being effective at muscle growth, BCAAs help in delaying fatigue during your workouts, boost fat loss and supports strength and mental focus. Each of the three essential amino acids plays a specific role in the supplement.


Leucine helps with protein synthesis and leads to muscle growth. Leucine is the main essential amino acid which starts the process of combining amino acids to produce muscle protein.

Leucine also boosts insulin levels which are an anabolic hormone which further stimulates protein synthesis. Furthermore, it boosts growth hormone which promoted muscle growth and reduces cortisol levels which break down muscle.


It is a known fact protein synthesis can help fight body fat. BCAAs increase the protein synthesis in your body which in turn increases your energy expenditure so much that it helps in burning body fat.

Isoleucine activates special receptors known as PPAR which increase the fat burning process in your body and inhibit fat storage. When you supplement with isoleucine, your body starts using the stored fats as fuel.


The amino acid tryptophan is responsible for producing serotonin which signals to the brain that the body is fatigued. The BCAA valine actively competes with tryptophan for entry into the brain.

Consuming valine before a workout can delay fatigue and reduce the amount of tryptophan in your brain. This shows that BCAAs don’t only improve your body function, but also your mental capabilities. They help you stay sharper and improve your cognitive abilities.

This Is When To Take BCAA Supplements For The Best Results

Before a Workout

BCAAs are a great supplement to take before your workout, you can even mix them in the same shaker cup as a pre-workout supplement if you have flavors that don’t clash. BCAAs help in breaking down fat to release energy which can help you get more out of your workouts. You should also consume BCAAs first thing on waking up since you’re in a fasted state and BCAAs helps in preventing the breaking down of muscle.

During a Workout

BCAAs can help you during your workout by supplying constant energy. It also helps with delaying fatigue so you can really power through each of your sets and really make the most of your time in the gym. BCAA supplements can also improve your mental focus during your workouts.

After a Workout

BCAAs help with muscle repair and recovery, making them a must with a post-workout shake or after a post-workout meal. BCAAs can speed up the protein synthesis in your muscles and help them heal and grow faster.

How Much Should you Take?

When it comes to exactly how much you should take of a BCAA supplement, many people do not know. However, it has been found that you should take anywhere between 3-5 servings of a BCAA supplement throughout the day. Each serving should not be less than five grams. Sipping on BCAAs throughout your day can promote muscle growth, speed up recovery and reduce muscle soreness.

Our Favorite BCAA Supplement

With all of this talk of BCAAs, we wouldn’t want to leave you guessing which ones you should buy.

Get some great intra-workout recovery for an even greater price by using Nutricost BCAAs.

Nutricost BCAAs is our favorite BCAA supplement, as they are cost effective, as well as effective for your gains. When looking at Nutricost BCAA, it is essential to consider the quality of ingredients and the taste and mixability. These BCAAs include the essential amino acids (l-leucine, iso-leucine, and l-valine) without any unnecessary additives, so you know exactly what you are getting. The quality of ingredients directly impacts the effectiveness of the product. Nutricost BCAAs can be purchased for $23.95, and you get 90 servings, that is a great deal.

Check out the full review for Nutricost BCAAs here!

Wrap Up

So when should you take your BCAAs? Well, it really depends on your personal preferences. The bottom line is that you need to get in a good amount of BCAAs each day.

Do you supplement with BCAA? Let us know in the comments below. Also, be sure to follow Generation Iron on Facebook and Twitter.

*Header image courtesy of Envato Elements.

Vidur Saini
Vidur is a fitness junky who likes staying up to date with the fitness industry and loves publishing his opinions for everyone to see. Subscribe to his YouTube Channel.