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Are BCAA’s Worth It? (Branched Chain Amino Acids Review)
Branched chain amino acids (BCAA’s for short) are one of the most popular muscle building supplements on the market and are made up of the essential amino acids leucine, valine and isoleucine.
The commonly listed benefits of BCAA supplements are that they improve muscle recovery and growth, enhance training performance and reduce delayed onset muscle soreness.
But are BCAA’s worth it for the average lifter?
When you sit down to really analyze it piece by piece, it’s highly unlikely that BCAA’s are necessary to purchase as a stand alone bodybuilding supplement.
Quick BCAA Review:
First off, if you’re eating anywhere between the standard intake of 0.8-1g of protein per pound of body weight daily that most lifters are, you’re already getting a very high BCAA intake just from that alone.
Most typical high protein foods are anywhere from 15-25% BCAA’s as is, and this should easily be enough in the overall picture to obtain maximum benefits since your body can only utilize a finite amount in a given day anyway.
Secondly, BCAA’s may improve training performance, but usually only during long duration, exhaustive training like the type an endurance athlete would perform.
For standard bodybuilding workouts with normal rest periods, they probably won’t be very helpful.
Thirdly, the only studies showing benefits of BCAA’s in relation to muscle soreness were done in the absence of proper protein intake.
It’s fairly obvious that BCAA’s would be better than nothing, but it’s fairly safe to assume that dietary protein would accomplish the same thing.
So, are BCAA’s worth it?
Unless you’re eating a low protein diet, are training fasted, or are performing very high volume/long duration workouts, I don’t see any reason to go out and spend your hard-earned money on branched chain amino acids supplements.
It’s not that the BCAA’s themselves are not needed (they’re crucial for muscle growth in fact), it’s just that supplemental BCAA’s on top of what you’re already getting from your muscle building diet are not likely to provide added benefits.
Just focus on hitting your overall protein needs for the day as a whole, and you’ll be obtaining enough BCAA’s from that without needing to worry about it further.