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Should I be taking BCAAs?

Last Modified: April 19, 2024

Nutrition & Recipes, Sports & Exercise


This post was written by Sami Kauffman, RD, sports dietitian, Parkview Sports Medicine.

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are a group of amino acids with a branched structure, unlike other amino acids, gaining popularity among fitness enthusiasts and athletes to support strength and conditioning. Below, we’ll discuss supplementation recommendations and the potential benefits of adding BCAAs to your routine.

The three BCAAs are:

  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine
  • Valine

These three amino acids are important for brain function, metabolism and muscle growth. BCAAs are the only amino acids broken down in skeletal muscle. We cannot produce them, so we have to acquire them through diet. BCAAs are naturally found in meat, dairy and legumes.

Potential benefits of BCAAs

Athletes commonly take BCAAs in supplement form to enhance performance, reduce soreness and prevent muscle fatigue. Research continues to find other potential benefits for individuals who don’t consume enough protein, older adults or those who have liver diseases such as cirrhosis.

BCAA supplements

BCAAs may not be beneficial for all individuals, but those who choose to use them should choose a product that has been third-party tested to be sure it is free of contamination with banned substances. Consulting a dietitian for guidance on supplementing with BCAAs or other products can help ensure appropriate use.

As a general guide, 3-20 grams of BCAAs is sufficient to increase muscle growth and is considered adequate and safe. The exact dose varies based on gender and how rigorous an individual’s training schedule is.

BCAAs are best taken close to (before or after) or during a workout and should be paired with a protein or carbohydrate. An ideal BCAA supplement will have a ratio of 2:1:1, which for a 5-gram serving is 3 grams leucine, 1 gram isoleucine and 1 gram valine.

You can learn more about Sports Nutrition here or contact us at 260-266-4007 for more information or to schedule a consultation.

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