Does BCAA Work For Muscle Building Or It Is Over-Hyped?

does BCAA work
  • What should you take to gain muscles faster?
  • Branched-chain amino acids, right?

Well, that is what everyone seems to believe these days.

But is it true?

Is this trio of essential amino acids really that effective, or are we just being overhyped again?

There are many options within the supplement industry, and almost all of them promise quick gains in muscle mass.

And most of them have some form of BCAAs as their main ingredient.

In the world of supplements, there are many products that claim to assist with muscle growth.

Whether or not they achieve the desired result often comes down to how well the formula is able to meet your needs as an athlete and how effectively it addresses those needs.

And while there is a wide range of supplements out there promising to assist you in building muscle, BCAA (branch chain amino acids) is among the most popular.

But what exactly do these branch chain amino acids do, and if they work for muscle building? Do they work, or are we just being overhyped again?

Let’s find out!

What Are Branch Chain Amino Acids?

Where do you think the acronym ‘BCAA’ or branched chain amino acids come into the picture?

It is commonly used to refer to three essential amino acids – leucine, isoleucine, and valine.

Branched-chain amino acids are also known as essential amino acids that the human body cannot create on its own.

This means that our bodies require us to get them from the foods that we eat or supplements that we take.

The BCAAs are smaller than other amino acids, and they are rapidly metabolized in muscle.

They have several functions in the body, such as being a precursor for other amino acids, regulating gluconeogenesis, and muscle protein synthesis.

More importantly, they directly impact your ability to build muscle after you have exhausted all the calories in your system and also combat delayed onset muscle soreness.

This is why BCAA supplements are often recommended by trainers and fitness enthusiasts as part of a fitness program.

Do BCAAs Work For Muscle Building?

As mentioned above, branched-chain amino acids serve many functions in the body.

So, does it work for muscle building?

Yes, it does!

The three essential amino acids that make up branched-chain amino acids can be used for repairing and building muscle tissue as well as regulating the level of growth hormone in the body.

In fact, studies from the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness have shown that BCAA supplementation can help improve athletic performance, muscle strength, and overall well-being.

And while there needs to be more evidence supporting claims that BCAA can directly increase your muscle mass, there are a few ways in which it is able to assist with the growth process.

How Does BCAA Help With Muscle Growth?

bcaa for muscle building

Branched-chain amino acids can be used for repairing and building muscle tissue.

This includes synthesizing new proteins, which is primarily what we use to grow new muscle.

In order to build muscle, you have to break down muscle tissue.

So with that in mind, BCAA can help with this process as well as with reducing any muscle soreness you might experience after a workout as a result of exercise-induced muscle damage.

Branched-chain amino acids can also help you regulate the level of growth hormone in your body.

This is important because growth hormone is essential for the repair and growth of the tissues within your body. And that includes the ones responsible for lean muscle mass as well.

But there’s more to it than that.

According to a study published by the British Journal of Pharmacology, BCAAs can also be used to reduce cortisol levels in the body.

Cortisol is a hormone that is released when our bodies go into stress mode by activating the “fight or flight” reflex.

Cortisol is released when we exercise, which is good as it helps us perform better.

But it can also be harmful if it stays in our bodies for too long, as it can cause us to break down muscle tissue or suppress our immune system.

As such, BCAA supplementation can help to prevent this protein breakdown.

These are only some of the ways in which BCAA can assist with muscle recovery and growth processes.

So, yes, it does work for muscle building.

Pros Of Using BCAAs For Muscle Growth

As we’ve seen above, BCAAs can be used to benefit the growth process greatly. But what are the pros of using BCAA supplements for muscle growth?

Branch chain amino acids are very efficient and easy to digest as well as being more affordable than other protein supplements.

BCAAs can also be found in many foods, especially protein-rich foods like eggs, fish, and dairy products.

They are one of the most suitable and highly recommended supplements in sports nutrition for developing lean body mass and developing a healthier body composition.


BCAAs have many benefits for both athletes and non-athletes alike, but they are not without a few cons.

A few studies have shown that consuming BCAAs alone can actually hinder muscle growth, especially in the elderly population in which growth hormone levels are naturally lower.

This is because BCAAs are converted into glucose in the body during times of high energy demand.

If your body is not receiving enough glucose from other sources, it will start using BCAAs.

And since BCAAs are used for protein synthesis as well, this will slow down the growth process.

The bottom line is that BCAAs are helpful and can very well aid with getting you to your goal.

Notwithstanding, they alone are not enough for building muscle.

In order to maximize results, you will need a high-quality protein supplement as well.

Are BCAAs Overhyped?

BCAAs are very popular among fitness enthusiasts and athletes due to their many benefits. But are BCAAs overhyped?

While you can use them for many things, most people use them for muscle building, and do they work for muscle building?

Sure does! Branched-chain amino acids have been proven safe for consumption as well as effective for improving athletic performance.

This can be attributed to BCAAs being important building blocks for protein synthesis and combating muscle fatigue.

In our opinion, a supplement that is known for assisting with promoting protein synthesis and can also decrease muscle soreness while providing other health benefits are certainly not overhyped.

However, there are other supplements that can provide more assistance with muscle protein synthesis.

7 Effective Products That Can Be Used as BCAA Substitutes

Also, you may need to substitute BCAA supplements because they are quite expensive.

The good thing is that there are many affordable alternatives that you can use in place of these products.

EAA (Essential Amino Acids)

These are other essential amino acids like valine, leucine, isoleucine, lysine, and methionine that can be obtained from meat, soy, dairy products, and eggs.

They can also be purchased as supplements.


This is a great energy supplement that can help you during strenuous exercises and workouts.

It is also commonly used as an effective BCAA substitute since it aids in muscle growth and recovery.


This is a metabolite that is produced when the amino acid leucine breaks down in the body. The benefits of using HMB are similar to those of BCAAs.

Plus, HMB is less expensive than BCAA supplements.

Whey Protein

This is an excellent source of BCAAs that is also known for helping athletes and non-athletes achieve muscle protein synthesis.

Whey protein is known as one of the complete protein sources, making it ideal for boosting exercise performance and the muscle-building process by aiding with increasing protein synthesis.

Therefore, it can be used as a substitute for BCAAs supplements. You can also use it to increase your daily protein intake since it is also a good source of essential amino acids.

Pea Protein

Pea protein is another good alternative for your BCAA supplement. It is also a good source of essential amino acids.

Whole food protein

Whole food protein is a broad term used to describe plant-based foods that contain all the building blocks considered essential amino acids, which are found in meat, fish, dairy, and eggs.

These include vegetables, fruits, grains, and beans such as lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, tofu, and tempeh.

They are high in fiber and antioxidants, making them an excellent choice for vegetarians and vegans.

They also provide satiating fiber to keep you full.

One of the main benefits of whole food protein is that it helps meet your protein needs from plant-based sources.

It is vital to ensure that you consume enough whole food protein to get adequate protein to meet your daily requirement.

Final Words

Branched-chain amino acids are very efficient and easy to digest as well as being more affordable than some other complete protein sources and supplements.

BCAAs can also be found in many food sources, especially protein-rich foods like eggs, fish, and dairy products.

So, if you’re looking to build muscle, you may want to give BCAAs a try.

They can also aid in reducing body fat, powering through and recovering faster after resistance exercise, improving brain function, and more.

They are one of the most researched supplements and have been proven to be safe and effective for both athletes and non-athletes alike.