BCAA’s: A Must-Use Supplement for Athletes, Weightlifters and all Fitness Buffs!

by | May 1, 2024 | 178, General Medical News, Wellness & Lifestyle | 0 comments

I have been heavily involved in the fitness industry for 30 years now, spending most of that time as a competitive bodybuilder, trainer, coach, and physique transformation specialist. I have...

I have been heavily involved in the fitness industry for 30 years now, spending most of that time as a competitive bodybuilder, trainer, coach, and physique transformation specialist. I have also worked with many of the most prominent supplement companies, helping to research, formulate, and test hundreds of compounds and products meant to enhance performance, boost fat loss, augment muscle growth and increase overall health and wellness. Some of these products showed great promise based on scientific research but failed to live up to expectations in the “real world.” Others developed cult followings (at least for a time) despite never impressing those who work in lab coats. However, only a handful of pills, potions and powders have truly stood the test of time – becoming essential pieces in the supplement puzzle for athletes, bodybuilders, and fitness enthusiasts the world over. BCAAs are one of them. 


What are BCAAs? 


Annie Stuart defines Branch Chained Amino Acids as “essential nutrients that are proteins found in food. Your muscles “burn” these amino acids for energy. The names of the specific amino acids that make up the branched-chain amino acids are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The term branched-chain simply refers to their chemical structure.”1


Wow, sounds pretty technical, huh? Yeah, but who cares, right? You want to know whether you should be using them or not! Keep reading… 




What the Naysayers Will Tell You 


Just about every high-level coach (top bodybuilders, pro, and Olympic athletes), I have communicated with about BCAA supplementation has related to me that they are absolutely essential (and I agree) in just about every phase of training for elite athletes and serious trainees. However, there are still skeptics out there who insist that a high-protein diet rich in whey is all that is needed. They fervently argue that consuming BCAA supplements will do nothing more than thin out your wallet. So, is it time to head to the cabinet and make some extra room by tossing out those canisters of BCAAs? Not so fast! 


The vital difference between consuming foods high in BCAAs, such as meat, fish, chicken eggs, and yes, even whey vs. pure supplemental BCAAs is the time it takes them to enter the bloodstream and exert their positive effects. BCAAs found in whole proteins are peptide-bound to other amino acids and, therefore, need to be liberated via the digestive process before absorption, which is not nearly as efficient for igniting anabolism, fat loss, and energy production at the specific times the body is primed for these processes. 


However, the BCAAs found in supplements are “free form” and thus do not require digestion. Because of this, they rapidly enter the bloodstream and spike amino acid levels more quickly and to a greater extent than BCAAs from food and even whey. 


Now, are you getting the picture? 


The Ratio is Vital 


When discussing BCAA supplements, it is essential to consider the “ratio” of leucine to isoleucine to valine contained within the formula. There has been a plethora of scientific studies performed on this subject, all attempting to determine what is most effective for triggering anabolism, igniting the mTOR pathway and enhancing muscle hypertrophy. The vast majority of research seems to point toward a 2:1:1 ratio as being optimal for increasing performance and muscle growth. Many products out there will boast about containing higher levels of leucine because it is known that this particular amino acid has the most profound effect on protein synthesis. However, it has never been shown that this produces more significant results than the aforementioned 2:1:1 ratio.  



The Magic of BCAAs 


So, just how vital are BCAAs for enhancing the appearance and health of your body? Let’s take a quick look at some of their most significant benefits. 


1.     BCAAs enhance protein synthesis – Combined with weight training, BCAAs turn on the mTORC1 pathway, which is our primary mechanism for muscle growth. BCAAs, in fact, have the ability to trigger protein synthesis even in the absence of exercise, which can minimize atrophy during time off from the gym. 

2.     BCAAs reduce protein breakdown – This is accomplished by decreasing activity of the protein breakdown pathway and decreasing the expression of several complexes involved in these actions. 

3.     BCAAs can keep energy boosted during exercise – By reducing the amount of tryptophan that passes through the blood-brain barrier, BCAAs help prevent the rise of serotonin produced while training, which reduces fatigue and keeps you alert and focused. 

4.     BCAAs support fat loss – The amino acid leucine has been shown, when used in conjunction with both isoleucine and valine, to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation. Additionally, not only does isoleucine improve glucose tolerance on its own, but also the entirety of BCAAs can support insulin sensitivity and metabolic rate. Combined, all of these effects will result in a leaner, more defined physique. 

5.     BCAAs decrease muscle soreness—This is a very important effect, especially for bodybuilders and athletes who must be able to train and perform maximally with extreme frequency. 

6.     BCAAs improve hormonal profile while training – Studies have proven that consuming as little as 6 grams of BCAAs for three weeks helped keep testosterone levels higher and cortisol levels lower during intense training periods. This in and of itself will increase one’s ability to build or maintain muscle mass during all the various yearly training cycles. This is especially vital when undergoing a hypocaloric dieting phase. 



Dosage and Timing 


I highly recommend using a BCAA supplement at three specific times per day. 


-When: Immediately upon awakening. 

-Why: Since we get up in a fasted state, our muscles are becoming catabolic and literally starving for BCAAs. 

-Dosage: 5 grams. 


-When: 45 min before weight training. 

-Why: To supply energy and support muscle tissue when undergoing intense stress. 

-Dosage: 10 grams 


-When: All throughout weight training workout. 

Why: It helps delay fatigue and keep blood amino acid levels high throughout the workout while additionally reducing (not stopping) the post-workout inflammatory response. 

-Dosage: 5-10 grams 


Note: When dieting on lower calories and carbohydrates, 2.5-5 grams of BCAAs can also be consumed between meals to help maintain energy and blood sugar while also keeping appetite under control. 





Eric Broser has been involved in the health and fitness industry as a trainer, strength/contest prep coach, model, author, magazine columnist, consultant to nutritional supplement companies and gym owner for over thirty years. He is a formerNatural Professional Bodybuilder, contest judge and now NPC Masters Competitor. Eric has penned over 1000 articles (for web and print) on training, supplements, mindset and nutrition, which have appeared in such major publications as Flex, Iron Man, Planet Muscle, Natural Muscle, Muscular Development, Muscle Mag International, Human Muscle and Performance, UCW and Muscular Health and Performance Illustrated. He has authored four books on the subject of rapid and substantial physique transformation, including one in partnership with the late Author L Rea and another with world-renowned fitness industry attorney, Rick Collins. Eric is the pioneer/developer of the world-renown POWER-REP RANGE-SHOCK™, SPEC™, O-BEY-6™, FTX2™, ESPX2™ and FIBER DAMAGE/FIBER SATURATION™ training methods, which are currently utilized by tens of thousands of bodybuilders and athletes across the globe. Eric has also become one of the most sought-after personal trainers/performance nutrition consultants and contest/event preparation coaches in the field by athletes, bodybuilders, high-powered executives and members of the entertainment industry. He currently works with clients all over the globe. Eric’s exclusive online training show, “B Built by Broser,” has appeared on such online platforms as Muscular Development, Muscle Insider, Evolution of Bodybuilding, Flex, Digital Muscle Media, Jay Cutler TV and currently on Muscle and Fitness+ and FULL TIME BODYBUILDING TV. 





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Eric Broser

Eric Broser