When Is The Best Time To Take BCAAs?

when to take bcaa

If you’re a regular gym-goer, you’ve probably noticed that there’s a load of supplements out there claiming to help you get the most out of your workout and see faster results.

And while most of them are nothing but marketing gimmicks, there are a few that actually stand up to scrutiny.

Branched-chain amino acids (or BCAAs) are one such example.

This three-letter word has become extremely popular among gym-goers in recent years because of its ability to directly impact your gains at the gym.

Unlike other amino acids or proteins, BCAA supplementation can increase protein synthesis, nitrogen retention, and recovery time between sets.

This article covers everything you need to know about BCAAs and how and when to take them for maximum benefits.

What are BCAAs?

BCAAs stands for branched-chain amino acids.

This refers to 3 amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) that are considered essential for your body to function properly.

The rest of the amino acids are nonessential amino acids.

Branched-chain amino acids are especially important for athletes and gym-goers because they are used up at a quicker rate.

In fact, muscle protein breakdown is accelerated during high-intensity and endurance exercise, which is why BCAAs are so important for muscle protein synthesis, muscle growth, and recovery.

Branched-chain amino acid supplements are a great addition to your diet if you’re looking to build muscle or recover faster from workouts.

With BCAAs, you don’t need to consume whole proteins, which can be inconvenient and messy.

BCAA supplements are also useful for people who are following a vegan diet since they are the only source of amino acids that are not derived from animal protein.

Why are BCAAs So Important?

As we’ve just discussed, branched-chain amino acids are essential for muscle building, maximizing muscle protein synthesis, and recovering quickly.

But why is that exactly?

When you exercise, especially when you do so while lifting heavy weights, your body breaks down muscle proteins.

This happens because your body uses amino acids to build proteins, and when there is a deficit of amino acids, the protein in your muscles is used as a source of fuel.

This is what causes muscle breakdown.

Not only do BCAAs promote muscle recovery, but they also help to prevent and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness.

BCAAs are also important for the proper functioning of your nervous system, cell metabolism, insulin production, boost immune cells, and mental health.

The Best Time to Take BCAAs

Man taking BCAA

Although BCAAs can be taken at any time during the day, it’s best to take them before you exercise, during your workout, and after you exercise.

Taking them as pre-workout

BCAAs are a supplement to be used during pre-workout in addition to your other supplements.

It is important to take BCAAs prior to working out because they will help increase muscle energy and decrease fatigue.BCAA supplementation before your workout is excellent for boosting energy and reducing fatigue.

Taking BCAAs during your workout

Taking BCAAs during your workout is beneficial for boosting energy and helps to prevent muscle breakdown.

During your workout, your body produces lactic acid as a byproduct of glucose metabolism. This lactic acid can build up in your muscles and cause fatigue and discomfort.

By taking BCAAs during your workout, you can reduce the amount of lactic acid that is produced, which can significantly improve your performance.

Using BCAA supplements as post-workout

Post-workout is the best time to take BCAAs because your muscles are already in a state of breakdown, and your body needs the amino acids to begin the repairing process.

Taking a BCAA supplement after your workout is essential for the recovery, growth, and repair of your muscles, as these amino acids are known for stimulating protein synthesis, which is a vital part of reducing muscle catabolism and increasing muscle mass.

They can help relieve muscle soreness and speed up the recovery time from exercise-induced muscle damage so you can hit the gym with full force the next day.

The Best Way to Take BCAAs

You can use BCAAs in a few different ways.

You can consume them in a shake, a bar, or even straight from a spoon.

It is important to note that you should avoid taking BCAAs with other amino acids, as they will not be as effective.

The general recommendation is to take 10-15 g of BCAAs daily.

BCAAs can be taken before, during, and after your workout to boost energy, improve focus, and reduce muscle soreness.

They can also be taken throughout the day as a way to supplement your diet with the amino acids that you may be missing out on.

Sources of BCAAs

Since your body can’t naturally produce BCAAs, you must increase your consumption of them.

Your BCAA intake can stem from a dietary supplement form or from various foods.

BCAAs are made when dietary protein is broken down into smaller amino acids and then used as building blocks for new tissue.

Foods rich in BCAAs

Many foods contain BCAAs, including dairy products like:

  • milk
  • yogurt
  • cheese
  • meat such as beef and chicken
  • fish like salmon.

But you can also get BCAAs from certain supplements. For example, some BCAA supplements are made using what’s known as lecithin.

Lecithin is a type of fat found in some foods, such as soybeans and peanuts. It’s also found in some over-the-counter weight loss supplements.

You may also get BCAA in different sports nutrition supplements, including protein powders, like whey protein.

BCAA Tablets Vs. Powder

One of the biggest differences between the two is that powders tend to be more convenient. They’re easy to take and can be mixed into a variety of different drinks or blended into smoothies.

Caffeine-infused powders are a popular way to get a boost of energy when you need it. Furthermore, they’re also easier to store and transport.

However, if you know you’re going to be out and about for long periods of time, it’s best to opt for tablets over powder.

Capsules are also a more stable form of protein powder compared to loose powders. This is because they’re harder for the body to break down and absorb.

In addition, capsules are more likely to stay fresh longer than other forms of protein powder.

Who Should Take BCAAs?

BCAAs are essential for any athlete.

It’s a must for anyone who wants to build muscle, lose weight, and maintain muscle mass, as well as athletes who want to recover from workouts.

On the other hand, you should take BCAAs only if you’re fairly healthy.

If you have chronic conditions like high blood pressure or diabetes, you should definitely speak with your doctor before trying out BCAAs.

Likewise, if you have gluten or casein allergies, you should never take BCAA supplements.

Of course, no supplement is completely risk-free, but BCAAs are a lot less risky than many other supplements on the market today.

Final Thoughts

There are nine essential amino acids, and BCAAs are three of those 9 amino acids that play a vital role in your body’s metabolic processes, especially for athletes and people who exercise regularly.

They are used up at a quicker rate during intense exercise, which is why BCAAs are so important for muscle growth and recovery.

BCAAs are best taken before, during, and after your workout to boost energy, improve focus, reduce muscle soreness, reduce inflammation, and speed up muscle recovery.

You can consume BCAA powder in a shake, a bar, or straight from a spoon.

There are also BCAA pills.

Consuming BCAAs is meant to supplement your exercise nutrition, not replace it.

As such, you should ensure that you eat well-balanced and protein-rich meals.

This will also help with building new muscle, preventing calorie deficit, aiding muscle repair, and much more.

The bottom line, you can use BCAA to promote muscle building at any time throughout the day.