BCAAs: Benefits, Usage and Side Effects


Do you want to build muscle or cut weight but don’t know what supplement to take?

BCAAs can help you reach your goals by dramatically increasing your muscle-building and fat-burning potential, while it can also help prevent muscle soreness and tiredness.

BCAAs provide the building blocks for muscles, so make sure to get them in your diet every day. They can provide big benefits for your health and performance too.

Keep reading to learn more about how BCAAs work, what they can do, and why they’re so important to your weight-loss and muscle-building journey!

BCAA or Branched Chain Amino Acids refer to three essential amino acids – leucine, isoleucine and valine. 

Amino acids are crucial to metabolism, and our body uses them to make proteins. Our body needs twenty amino acids, out of which nine are essential. The body can not produce these nine amino acids; hence we need to furnish them through diet or supplements. 

BCAAs are essential amino acids found in dietary sources like eggs, meat, and milk. However, BCAA supplements are trendy among fitness lovers, athletes and bodybuilders because of their significant role in improving exercise performance and reducing fatigue. 

The main metabolic goal of consuming BCAA supplements is to maximize the anabolic state as it is widely stated that BCAAs induce an anabolic state by stimulating muscle protein synthesis. 

If you are a beginner or a sportsperson and plan to start with BCAA supplements, the next segment will help you with a detailed overview of BCAA benefits and how they work. 

BCAAs and muscle growth

One of the most notable reasons to go for BCAA is that it promotes lean muscle growth. Researchers say that the amino acid leucine is a precursor for muscle protein synthesis and regulates intracellular signalling pathways in building muscle mass. Therefore, BCAA supplements with higher leucine content than isoleucine and valine might be more effective for muscle growth.

BCAAs and muscle fatigue

Fatigue is a common issue faced by active people during and post-exercise. BCAAs help reduce both mental and physical fatigue. This effect was observed during a study in which the BCAA group experienced 17% less fatigue than the placebo group.

BCAAs and DOMS (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness)

Supplementing with BCAA pre, during or after the workout is beneficial to reduce and relieve muscle soreness. BCAAs have been shown to decrease muscle breakdown by lowering creatine kinase levels, which may help lessen the length and severity of DOMS.

BCAAs and blood sugar levels

Clinical trials suggest that amino acids leucine and isoleucine increase glucose uptake from the blood into the muscles, thereby lowering overall blood sugar levels. Hence, branched-chain amino acid supplements may assist in maintaining healthy blood glucose levels. However, diet plays an influential role in determining the same as high fat and carb diets might cause insulin resistance. 

BCAAs and liver health

Studies suggest that BCAA supplements may also reduce fatigue and improve weakness, sleep quality, and muscle cramps in individuals with liver diseases like hepatic encephalopathy. However, if you suffer from any liver or kidney disease, medical advice from an expert is suggestible. 

What is the correct BCAA supplement dosage?

BCAA supplements are readily available in various forms and flavours. BCAA dosage varies from person to person depending upon the diet and workout intensity. It is advisable to refer to the label for recommended dosage and not exceed the same to relish the health benefits.

One can take BCAA either pre, during or post-workout with water or juice. You can also mix unflavoured BCAA powder with your post-workout protein shake.

Are there any BCAA side effects?

BCAA supplements contain amino acids that are essentially required by the body; hence they are totally safe. 

However, individuals with existing medical conditions like liver or kidney disorder, Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD), diabetes or heart disease should never use BCAA supplements without a doctor’s recommendation.

Which is the best BCAA supplement?

You will find great BCAAs supplements in the market to choose from as per your liking. Here is a list of some highly effective and best-selling BCAA supplements in India that you can consider.

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Nutrabay Pure BCAA 2:1:1: If you need pure BCAAs in the ratio of 2:1:1 without any additives, go for this supplement. This unflavoured BCAA is suitable for anyone, including beginners, to gain stamina during workouts and minimize muscle damage.

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Nutrabay Gold BCAA 4:1:1 with Electrolytes: This supplement is apt if you need a BCAA supplement with higher leucine content. It provides 7 grams BCAA per serving in two delicious flavours, and added electrolytes prevent you from getting dehydrated. 

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Nutrabay Pro BCAA 8:1:1 with Electrolytes: Looking for something to maximize muscle gains without any stimulants, choose this supplement. The eight-times leucine content stimulates anabolism, new muscle growth and faster recovery. Added electrolytes like sodium, potassium and chloride ensure reduced muscle cramps. You can enjoy the benefits in two lip-smacking flavours.

Scivation Xtend BCAA (Intra Workout Catalyst)

Xtend BCAA: An advanced BCAA formula specifically designed for athletes and bodybuilders to enhance athletic performance. Each serving of Xtend BCAA provides 7 g of BCAA in an ideal ratio of 2:1:1. 

Optimum Nutrition (ON) Amino Energy

ON BCAA: Optimum Nutrition Amino Energy contains a unique combination of amino acids with caffeine to attain maximum performance during training sessions and rebuild muscle. It also contains green tea and green coffee bean extracts to boost metabolism and amplify energy levels.

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GNC BCAA: GNC Gold Series Advanced BCAA provides 7 grams of instantized BCAA in an optimal ratio of 2:1:1. What makes this supplement unique is the presence of glutamine, citrulline malate and vitamin B6. The product contains a perfect combo to trigger muscle growth, gain muscle strength and stamina and fight fatigue.

Does BCAA have side effects?

It might cause some side effects, such as fatigue and loss of coordination. BCAAs should be used cautiously before or during activities that require motor coordination, such as driving. BCAAs might also cause stomach problems, including nausea, diarrhea, and bloating.

Is BCAA good to take everyday?

While you don’t need BCAAs at every meal, it is important to take them daily. This ensures you’re getting all the nutrients you need so your body can function at its best. Branched-chain amino acids are most commonly found in protein-rich foods like milk, meat, and eggs.

What are the benefits of taking BCAAs?

BCAA supplements have been shown to build muscle, decrease muscle fatigue and alleviate muscle soreness. They have also successfully been used in a hospital setting to prevent or slow muscle loss and to improve symptoms of liver disease

Does BCAA have long-term effects?

Detrimental effects on health’
As reported in the journal Nature Metabolism, Solon-Biet and colleagues found that although BCAAs exert muscle-building benefits, excessive intake may reduce lifespan, increase appetite, lead to weight gain and have a negative impact on mood.

Can BCAA cause kidney damage?

The BCAAs rapidly interfered with renal function, decreasing GFR and stimulating kidney fibrosis, thus increasing CKD progression, presumably via their effect on energy metabolism.

Can BCAA cause blood clots?

Ingestion of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) significantly enhanced the activity of platelets in response to agonists and increased the risk of arterial thrombosis.

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