What Are Branch Chain Amino Acids?

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You may have heard of these guys called BCAAs, but might not be aware of what they are, and if they can benefit you with your workouts.

What Are Branch Chain Amino Acids?

BCAAs (Branch Chain Amino Acids) are actually essential amino acids part of every food that is considered a complete protein. In particular, they are leucine, isoleucine, and valine. Among the many benefits of these essential amino acids, many athletes use them to improve performance and reduce protein/muscle breakdown during workouts.


This is where you ask, “Should I be supplementing?” and “But don’t I get enough of these from my food?”

“Of course” is the answer, if you spread your protein intake out during the day, receiving some kind of good quality protein source in the morning, afternoon, and evening most days. The issue, however, is when we are building muscle or taxing our body through a sport, these three amino acids, in particular, are in high demand; especially given the fact they can only be obtained through our diet.

Supplementing BCAAs before and during a workout mixed into a shake is a great way to improve your workout without pumping all the sugars and chemicals into your body you’ll find in most pre-workout and energy drinks. BCAAs have been recommended to both men and women with great success.


Dosing is something you have to figure out as it’s quite personal. Try the serving on the bottle and increase it if you feel necessary. Doing some research on your own will always help. It is recommended with any amino acid supplementation to do three weeks on and one week off. Your one week off could be a de-load week where you reduce your workout intensity.

Article by Josh Stryde, Regional Nutrition Director and personal trainer at Calgary Place World Health. For meal ideas, check out these recipes.

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