man exercising his biceps

What are the amino acids ‘BCAA’ and what are they for?

Again and again, it is heard that the so-called ‘BCAA’ ( Branch-Chained Amino Acids ) amino acids can help build muscle. But what exactly is that, and how do they work in your body? In the following article, you will learn all about muscle development with ‘BCAA’.

What are amino acids?

First, we will review a little that are amino acids. Amino acids are organic compounds that provide your body with valuable building blocks so you can accumulate protein molecules.

This allows you to control various growth processes, regeneration processes, and also important metabolic processes which can help you build muscle and maintain it.

What amino acids are there?

Amino acids differ between essential, non-essential, and so-called semi-essential amino acids. The body cannot manufacture the first by itself and, therefore, must be ingested from the outside.

If there is a deficiency, the immune system weakens, or we feel weak and tired. In addition, wounds heal more slowly. Therefore, you should always make sure you consume enough essential amino acids, which include:

  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine
  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Threonine
  • Valine and
  • Tryptophan

Some examples of very important semi-essential amino acids are arginine and histidine, and for non-essential amino acids, alanine. The body can generally produce the latter from sufficient amounts of other amino acids.

What does ‘BCAA’ mean?

The abbreviation ‘BCAA’ means Branched Chain Amino Acids. It is said that they can produce an anabolic and also anti-catabolic effect, from which, among other things, athletes can also benefit.

All ‘BCAA’ amino acids have a very special effect, and sometimes they can also promote muscle building. The ‘BCAA’ support your body during regeneration after strenuous training.

Why do amino acids play an important role in athletes?

As already mentioned, the amino acids ‘BCAA’ is very important, especially for athletes. However, the desired effects can only be achieved if you exercise regularly.

In muscle development, the intake of amino acids after training ensures that the muscles receive many important substances quicker. But these can also be very useful before training since the amino acids ‘BCAA’ ensure that you don’t get tired so quickly.

As a result, you endure more time during exercise and, therefore, you can achieve better training results. However, it is important that you always drink enough water when you are building muscle because this allows the body to better utilize the amino acids that are absorbed, some of which cannot be excreted through the urea-shaped kidney.

How does the ‘BCAA’ reach the muscles?

By taking ‘BCAA’ amino acids, you also improve the energy balance of your muscles. The glutamine and alanine can increase the oxygen and nitrogen balance in the body and used in muscle cells.

This is very practical, for example, if you exercise a lot regularly or want to lose weight. BCAA amino acids also help prevent muscle development if you have poor energy intake.

Since the body sometimes cannot produce them on its own, it must provide them with food or nutritional supplementsfor example, whey ).

Other positive effects of the amino acids ‘BCAA’

It has been mentioned several times previously that athletes, in particular, can benefit from muscle development with ‘BCAA’ because valuable amino acids, especially leucine, can ensure that your body accumulates more muscle proteins.

There are also some results of studies that show that taking ‘BCAA’ regularly could result in lower body weight. According to studies, amino acids should be able to promote fat loss.

woman exercising her biceps with a cable

Is there any study on amino acids and muscle building?

All the studies listed below analyzed the effects of ‘BCAA’.

  1. Casperson SL et al: Leucine supplementation chronically improves muscle protein synthesis in older adults who consume RDA for protein; Clin Nutr. February 20, 2012
  2. Saito K et al: A significant relationship between plasma vitamin C concentration and physical performance; J. Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci., 09/20/2011
  3. Silva LA et al: Taurine supplementation decreases oxidative stress in skeletal muscle after eccentric exercise; Cell Biochem Funct. December 27, 2010

What was found

Among other things, studies found that the amino acid L-carnitine can significantly accelerate the regeneration time of muscles after training. In addition, regular consumption can help burn fat.

However, we would like to expressly state that there is no clear scientific evidence for this!

As a result, the agency has to spend less energy on this job. Therefore, L-carnitine should be an integral part of all sports nutrition.

How many ‘BCAA’ should I take to build muscle?

Numerous institutes for nutrition claim that adults aged between 25 and 51 should eat approximately 0.8 grams of protein a day.

However, this value only applies to normal physical effort. It looks different if you exercise regularly. Because then your body needs more protein and also more amino acids.

When building muscle, therefore, you should consume two or three grams per kilogram of body weight. However, you should not supply this amount permanently. Because in the long run, your kidneys could be very stressed and, in the worst case, could even be damaged.

In addition, the recommended amount of intake also depends on the sport. If you do cycling, it is approximately one gram per kilogram of body weight, while if you run, it will be approximately 1.49 grams.

On the other hand, if you go to the gym to build muscle, it is crucial how long and, above all, how intensely you train. If you are unsure about how to take it, you should follow the recommendations on the package or ask a physical trainer for advice.

Where are the amino acids?

Amino acids are found in various foods and also in so-called vitamin supplements. Among other things, they are also contained in the so-called whey protein. The latter is available in different forms and is regularly taken by numerous strength athletes and bodybuilders.

Whey is also found in milk and is produced in cheese production. However, it is still in liquid form and is first separated from fats and lactose. Only then can it is processed in powder. The end result is the so-called whey protein, which also contains valuable amino acids for muscle development.

What is special about whey protein?

Whey protein has that name because it is derived from milk. It contains many important amino acids such as some ‘BCAA’. For this reason, many athletes take it regularly.

Whey protein can be added as a supplement as necessary. Many athletes use the powder that mixes with milk or running water to create a shake. The latter can be drunk in the morning. But, it can also be very useful after training because that’s when your body needs the nutrients you spent in the gym beforehand.

Whey protein is so popular among many athletes, among other things, because it has a very high biological value of 104. In addition, the powder dissolves very well in water and milk and, therefore, can also be drunk on the fly.

Another advantage of whey protein is that it can be combined with some other valuable sources of protein, such as soy protein. This allows the biological value to be further increased. For these reasons, protein powder is the first choice for many strength athletes when it comes to building and maintaining muscles.

This is certainly also due to the very good balance of amino acids.

Can I take whey protein on a diet?

Yes, whey protein can, also, be very useful in some diets such as the protein or anabolic diet because it is made up of 80 to 90 percent protein and, therefore, can make an important contribution to muscle maintenance.

man and woman working out

How long should whey protein be taken?

Dietary supplements generally should not be taken continuously. Keep in mind that they are not a substitute for a healthy and varied diet. Therefore, you should only take whey protein when necessary, as in the accumulation phase.

Does whey protein increase performance?

Another positive effect of whey protein is that it improves the performance of athletes. This allows them to reach their goals faster and does not tire them so quickly. This was also demonstrated in a study in which 680 subjects participated.

They took whey protein for a certain period of time and, in combination with normal strength training, they were able to increase their muscle mass and lift more weight in the leg press.

It was suspected that taking whey protein could also improve an athlete’s performance because this is a very fast-acting protein source that can be used after a few hours.

Study: https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/96/6/1454/4571495

Whey protein reduces hunger

Many strength athletes have a strong feeling of hunger during training or immediately after training. Unfortunately, they often turn to unhealthy, or fatty foods. Which interrupts the effect of training, and sometimes even completely prevents it.

If you drink a healthy protein shake, you can avoid the dreaded cravings. This is especially important when you are on a diet.

Amino acids ‘BCAA’: the strength and endurance specialist

The secret of the valuable ‘BCAA’ amino acids lies in the fact that they enter the blood very quickly, and are not excreted through the liver. This allows you to benefit from a very fast effect. Among other things, the ‘BCAA’ produces the following effects:

  • Delay muscle fatigue
  • Prevent muscle breakdown
  • Ideally, you can support muscle development

The fact that you get tired slower by taking ‘BCAA’ can help you reach your goals faster. There are also some properties of the ‘BCAA’ that have not yet been investigated in depth.

However, it is known that an imbalance in amino acids in our body can lead to various functional disorders and various physical discomforts. For example, a deficiency can cause fatigue, weaken the immune system, and cause depression.


Amino acids act like hormones in our body, and, as it were, are a precursor to several enzymes and the so-called neurotransmitters. In order for us to achieve full performance, it must be regularly supplied with all important nutrients.

This also includes a total of 20 called protein-forming amino acids, eight of which are among the essential (vital) ingredients mentioned above. Your body cannot produce them by itself, so you must give them through food or supplements.

However, keep in mind that these are not a substitute for a balanced diet. Whey protein contains valuable amino acids and, therefore, must be added regularly. However, you should also take a break from time to time to avoid putting too much pressure on your body.

BCAAs can be taken before and after training. After training, they provide your body with lost nutrients and avoid the dreaded cravings. In addition, you can also accelerate muscle regeneration by taking it.

Before training, they provide the muscle tissue with important components for growth. They also ensure that you don’t get tired so quickly and, therefore, you can achieve better results.

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