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BCAAs: The Ultimate Muscle Building, Soreness Reducing Supplement

BCAAs, branched chain amino acids

What if I told you there was a supplement that could help YOU pack on massive new slabs of muscle, maintain that muscle mass while dieting and doing cardio, and also reduce post-exercise muscular soreness–all without any side-effects or negative health impact. Interested?

Take BCAAs. They’ll change fitness and weight-lifting as you know it.



The branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s) are a group of three essential amino acids: l-leucine, l-valine, and l-isoleucine. An essential amino acid (there are 9 of them in the body) is any amino acid that can’t be manufactured by the body naturally, meaning that they have to come from protein intake. BCAA’s are the only amino acids metabolized inside of the muscle itself (all of the others are metabolized in the liver), and make up about 35% of muscle tissue.

During intense training the BCAA’s serve as a major source of fuel for the body. When your internal BCAA hit empty the body begins to break down precious muscle tissue. Excess BCAAs = protection against muscle breakdown.

BCAA’s also signal the release of insulin, which allows the body to absorb any circulating amino acids and glucose for energy. They’re absolutely critical for the development and maintenance of muscle tissue. I can’t stress that enough.

You’ve probably been ingesting BCAA’s longer than you ever would’ve thought…they’re a part of all foods that have protein. Although the protein you eat throughout the day provides a decent amount of BCAA’s, that’s not nearly enough to get a significant benefit.

I’m talking about supplemental amounts flooding through the blood stream, filling up thirsty muscles that are craving a little BCAA love…I want a BCAA TSUNAMI!!


The Benefits:


1. Better Recovery, Less Soreness

No one likes being so sore that they can’t move after a crazy intense workout. Supplementation with Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) has been proven to significantly reduce muscular soreness and accelerate the growth and recovery process. A recent study from the University of Birmingham tested the impact of BCAA’s on muscle soreness and found that “ratings of muscle soreness in the quadriceps muscle were significantly lower 48 to 72 hours after exercise in the BCAA group.” For that reason BCAA’s are included within a number of pre-workout and intra-workout blends, and are typically used by athletes, bodybuilders, and experts to enable greater workout frequency, which leads to accelerated growth. With that said, they’re perfectly suitable and recommended for the every day lifter, runner, etc.12345


2. Enhanced Protein Synthesis, Bigger Muscle Gains

Protein’s pretty much useless if the body isn’t able to effectively digest, absorb, and synthesize it into muscle/other tissue. When the body’s under immense stress (i.e. during a workout) it calls on BCAA’s to be released for fuel, which stops protein synthesis. By supplementing with BCAA’s, especially during a workout, you can eliminate the need to release BCAA’s from muscle tissue, therefore keeping protein synthesis and muscle growth revved up at a high gear.


3. Even More Muscle Gain…

BCAA’s increase levels of testosterone, HGH, and insulin–all of which are extremely anabolic (they promote the development of new tissue). That means new muscle. HGH and testosterone also shred body fat.


4. Prevent Muscle Breakdown (Catabolism)

Plain and simple, when you supplement with BCAA’s your body doesn’t have to break down muscle tissue for energy. The BCAA’s are a major source of fuel during intense exercise, especially after glycogen stores (stored carbohydrates in the muscles) have been completely emptied. Taking BCAA’s before/during exercise is a great way to ensure that your hard-earned, beefy muscle doesn’t get broken down for fuel.

  • A lot of people who “cut” (diet and do a lot of cardio to reduce body fat %) typically have tremendous difficulty maintaining muscle mass while losing fat. Supplementing with BCAA’s is a phenomenally effective way to preserve muscle while burning fat, especially if you do long cardio sessions.


5. Boosts Endurance

Once glycogen stores (stored carbohydrates) empty, the body starts to get really weak and fatigues. Fortunately, BCAA’s can be quickly converted into glucose, stored as glycogen, and then used as energy to bang out the last few sets.

  • Another cool benefit. In the body, BCAA’s and tryptophan fight for the same receptors in the brain. If levels of BCAA’s in the body are low, more tryptophan is able to enter the brain. This is really important because tryptophan is a precursor to seratonin — a neurotransmitter that causes people to feel relaxed, sleepy, and weak. Supplementing with BCAA’s = less tryptophan & serotonin = more awake, alert, and strong.


6. Increased Immunity

Noone likes being sick. BCAA’s can help preserve stored glutamine, an amino acid that’s critical to immune function.


In short…BCAA’s are the key to unlocking BEAST-MODE. Unleash the beast!!!!


How Much and When Should I Take BCAA’s?


Scivation Xtend, bcaa, bcaas

BCAA’s are optimal directly pre-workout, during a workout, and/or any time throughout the day. I highly recommended BCAA’s during any workout session that lasts longer than 1 hour, as your body will start breaking down muscle for fuel.

Take 3-10g of BCAA’s split-up throughout the course of the day, in addition to your daily protein requirement. BCAA formulas should always be in the ratio of 2:1:1 (leucine:isoleucine:valine).

I’m currently using Scivation Xtend…it’s a phenomenal product and by far the best BCAA brand I’ve ever used. It tastes fantastic (watermelon’s the best), it’s inexpensive for a BCAA product, and it works stupidly well. It also has l-glutamine, another amino acid that’s really effective for decreasing soreness/enhancing recovery…the BCAA/Glutamine 1-2 punch is potent.

Buy: $22.75


Scivation Xtend Nutrition Facts


Optimum Nutrition’s BCAA powder is another solid option if you’re looking to go the super natural route. Just mix it with water or add it to a protein shake. Warning, it tastes horrible.

Follow Lean It UP on Twitter for real-time fitness/nutrition tips, advice, info, and updates.


Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Instagram (@BRYDISANTO) & Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto
  1. Exercise-induced muscle damage is reduced in resistance-trained males by branched chain amino acids: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study Howatson G, Hoad M, Goodall S, Tallent J, Bell PG, French DN. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2012 May 8;9(1):20 []
  2. Nutraceutical effects of branched-chain amino acids on skeletal muscle. Shimomura Y, Yamamoto Y, Bajotto G, Sato J, Murakami T, Shimomura N, Kobayashi H, Mawatari K. J Nutr. 2006 Feb;136(2):529S-532S. SV92GWA3PQNX []
  3. Branched-chain amino acid ingestion can ameliorate soreness from eccentric exercise Jackman SR, Witard OC, Jeukendrup AE, Tipton KD. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 May;42(5):962-70 []
  4. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation before squat exercise and delayed-onset muscle soreness Shimomura Y, Inaguma A, Watanabe S, Yamamoto Y, Muramatsu Y, Bajotto G, Sato J, Shimomura N, Kobayashi H, Mawatari K. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2010 Jun;20(3):236-44 []
  5. Branched-chain amino acid supplementation attenuates muscle soreness, muscle damage and inflammation during an intensive training program. Matsumoto K, Koba T, Hamada K, Sakurai M, Higuchi T, Miyata H. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2009 Dec;49(4):424-31 []
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