BCAA’s, what are they and do you need them?

BCAA Mojito

Very often I get asked questions related to supplements, in this case it was… ‘What are BCAA’s?’ 

Admittedly, it caught us by surprise and although I knew the answer I didn’t really know how to explain myself, so, for a more thorough answer, we sought the advice of GYMversus creator and online coaching genius, Thomas Hartnett.


What are BCAAs?
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein of which, nine are considered essential. Essential amino acids cannot be manufactured within our bodies and as such, must come from food.

Of the essential amino acids, three account for as much as 33% of our muscle tissue – leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They can be found in many whole food protein sources, such as eggs, meat/poultry, nuts and legumes, whilst also as a supplement in either powder or table form.

What is their role?
BCAA’s have been found to increase immune system support, protect against muscle atrophy, increase absorption of protein, speed up recovery during training and decrease mental fatigue. A longer-term deficiency in any one of these three will attribute to muscle loss and unlike other amino acids, BCAA’s are metabolised within muscle tissue and not the liver.

So how does the above translate? The acute stress of training – increased cortisol and muscle breakdown – can be effectively combatted with the use of BCAAs. Further to that, they will help drive muscle repair, reducing DOMS and giving us the opportunity to train more frequently – speeding up your progress toward goal attainment.

Are BCAAs important?
BCAA’s can help prevent protein breakdown and muscle loss, which is significantly more important to those who are in pre-contest diets. During these times of low caloric intake, the use of BCAAs is strongly recommended because there is a greater risk of muscle loss due to a decrease in the rate of protein synthesis and an increase of proteolysis, which is the hydrolytic breakdown of proteins into simpler, soluble substances such as peptides and amino acids, as occurs during digestion.

When to take BCAAs?

BCAAs are free-form and competition for uptake in your G.I. tract can inhibit their effectiveness and digestion if taken with other foods or on a full stomach. So we recommend you take around or during your workout (such as with pre-workout drinks). If you are training fasted in the morning, they can be a great addition to protecting muscle breakdown from low glycogen during a low-carb phase of competition prep.

How much do I need to take?
Take one serving as recommended by the supplement guidelines for the product you are using

Who can take BCAAs?
BCAA’s are suitable for everyone including Vegans. In fact BCAAs are an excellent form of amino acids for those with a Vegan diet struggle to source complete proteins from food or Vegan proteins.

What should I look out for when buying?

  • Ratio of Leucine (e.g. 2:1:1)
  • Flavour
  • Added Ingredients
  • Reliable Brands

Recommended Products:

Bulkpowders BCAAs – Cola Flavour

Scivation Xtend

Gaspari Aminolast


Top BCAA recipes:

BCAA SLUSHIE by The Beltsander


Most undedicated swoldiers grab a few beers when having a barbecue but if you want to save your gains, make a BCAA Slushie instead.

BCAA GUMMIES by The Muscle Baker

BCAA Cola Gummies

Guilt-Free Cola sweeties which are good for you? Move over Haribo, WE GOT THIS!

BCAA Squares by If The Sneaker Fits


Easy Gello Squares as shown to us by If The Sneaker Fits, simple and easy recipe. No mind blowing kitchen skills required!


BCAA Mojito

Bring Club Tropicana to your very own home with this delicious Vegan Friendly (alcohol-free) Mojito!



Special thanks to Thomas Hartnett (@shakeofdoom).

For more info on tailored online coaching packages and e-books, visit gymversus.com


Any question we missed out? Comment below and we’ll be happy to answer.

Lots of love,

The Muscle Baker <3


– Bodybuilding.com
– Breakingmuscle.com
– Gymversus.com
– enkiVillage.com

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