Any supplement has a favourable time window when it provides the best results. For instance, athletes take creatine just before or after working out to build muscles and aid recovery. In the same way, there is the best time to take BCAA based on your fitness goals.
We see many opinions about when to take BCAAs. Some say you have to take it before exercise; some suggest you take it during workouts, while others advise you to reserve it for post-workout.
What do you really make of all these contradicting information?
We get your frustration and want to lend a helping hand.
In this post, we will talk about the best time to take BCAA based on different fitness goals. We will discuss the results of taking BCAA pre, during, and post-workout to help you make an informed decision.
Of course, our opinions are backed by scientific evidence, like always!
Let’s see what happens when you take BCAA before your exercise.
Taking BCAA Supplement Before Exercise – The Results
A majority of gym-goers and bodybuilders take BCAA before exercising. What effects does it have?
Builds More Muscle Mass
We know BCAAs are the building blocks of muscles. We need amino acids to facilitate protein synthesis, which, in turn, adds to our muscle mass.
Branched-chain amino acids taken before exercise helps build muscles. The amino acids quickly reach our muscles and begin protein synthesis. So, when you work out, you experience less wear and tear of your muscle tissues. Your muscles also don’t run out of essential amino acids they need to synthesize protein to build muscle fiber.
Studies also show BCAAs lead to more protein synthesis when taken before exercise.
If you want to build muscles, the best time to take BCAA will before working out.
Enhances Performance and Energy
Branched-chain amino acids are not metabolized by our livers. They come in free forms without bonds and get absorbed quickly by our bodies. The BCAAs reach directly to our muscles and provide fuel for producing energy.
As a result, taking branched amino before exercise can improve performance.
Research also notes the same results. Taking BCAAs before working out can prolong athletic performance on the field. In another study, participants taking branched amino acids with carbs and caffeine increased endurance performance by 2%.
Research published in the Journal of Human Kinetics found branched aminos to increase strength when taken before working out. Studies also show BCAA to reduce DOM (delayed onset muscle soreness) when we consume it before exercising.
So is pre-workout the best time to take BCAA? Let’s explore more effects of taking amino acid supplements before exercise!
Aids Muscle Recovery
Taking BCAA before exercising reduces muscle soreness, as we already noted above. Other studies also conclude the same. You can effectively reduce muscle stiffness and pain that follows strenuous exercises and training by taking branched aminos pre-workout.
A study found women taking BCAA before doing squats had less muscle fatigue. The group also turned out 80% stronger than the placebo group in only three days into training.
Young men taking amino acid supplements before strength training had less muscle soreness. They also had lower levels of blood markers that damage muscle.According to Healthline
From the discussion, it’s clear that taking your supplement before exercise can help muscle recovery and reduce soreness.
Summary: The best time to take BCAA is before exercise if you want to build muscles, aid recovery, and reduce muscle soreness. You can even take the branched amino supplement with your pre-workout supplement.
We have seen that it’s best to take your amino acid supplement before exercise. Now, let’s see what happens if you take it during and after working out.
Taking BCAA During Workout
There are mixed opinions about the effectiveness of taking BCAAs during the workout. According to Healthline, many studies have failed to show any significant benefits of taking BCAA during exercise. Only a few show some gains in reducing mental fatigue and improving performance.
In short, taking BCAA supplement during exercise can facilitate recovery, but doesn’t have any considerable effects on muscle-building.
Taking BCAA Post Workout
Only a single study found BCAA to improve muscle protein synthesis when taken after exercise. However, other studies didn’t come to the same conclusion.
In conclusion, taking amino acid supplements after exercise may not be the best to build muscles. It can, however, help in recovery and reducing fatigue. The best time to take BCAA can be after exercise if you only want to reduce muscle soreness.
Should You Take BCAA Before Going to Bed
Our bodies repair and build muscles while we sleep. For this reason, many people think to take BCAA before sleeping will help them build muscles. Unfortunately, this may not be true.
BCAAs are not ideal for building muscle when we are at rest. They are quickly absorbed by our bodies and used up for energy production. As a result, they are not suitable for taking before bed.
However, you can take casein protein before you hit the bed to build muscle mass. Casein is a slow-absorbing protein that releases a steady supply of amino acids to your muscles all through the night.
For this reason, casein and other slow-absorbing proteins are best for building muscles when we sleep. Bedtime is certainly not the best time to take BCAA.
You can read more about the benefits of BCAAs right here.
Consistency is the Key
You need to be consistent with your BCAA supplement to get desired results. Taking amino acid for a few days is not going to make any difference. You will also not build any muscle if you don’t work out and eat a proper diet.
Research has shown that you need to consume BCAA supplement at least for 10-days to see any effects. You also need to take a consistent dosage to get the best results.
So, whatever is your best time to take BCAA, stick to it, and your dosage.
Optimum BCAA Dosage
You need to take at least 144mg of BCAA per kilo of your body weight. You can safely take 20 – 25-grams of branched amino acids per serving without any risks.
BCAAs are safe and ideal for use in the long-term.
Best BCAA Ratio
The best BCAA ratio to follow is 2:1:1.
That means 50% leucine, 25% isoleucine, and 25% valine.
High ratios of leucine like 8:1:1, or 10:1:1 is not beneficial, as we need a healthy balance of all BCAAs to build muscles. You can learn more about the best BCAA ratio.
The best time to take BCAA is before exercise if you want to build muscles, get more energy, and facilitate muscle recovery.
You can take something like whey protein after working out to increase the levels of protein synthesis. Also, don’t forget about exercising and getting your daily requirements of nutrients. They are also important parts of the muscle-building equation.
And lastly, check out our best BCAA supplements list before making your purchase!
Do you take BCAA before or after a workout?
BCAA provides the best results when you take your drink before working out. Benefits include more muscle growth, improved energy levels, and better muscle recovery. In comparison, taking BCAA after exercising only reduces muscle soreness and improves recovery.
Do I need BCAAs if I take protein?
BCAAs are part of protein. If the protein you eat or drink contains all BCAAs in the required quantities, you may not need to take BCAAs. You can find most BCAAs in animal sources of protein. So if you’re a vegetarian or eat less meat or dairy, you may consider taking BCAAs.
Should I take BCAAs on rest days?
If you are following a cycle, you can take BCAA on your rest days. It will boost your amino acid stores and facilitate recovery. This is also true if you are drinking BCAA to build muscles. You can give your BCAAs a skip if you drink it only to increase energy or performance.
Should I take creatine and BCAA?
Yes, you can go ahead and combine BCAAs with creatine. It’s safe, and many bodybuilders use the combination to build strength and muscles. Just be sure to stick to the recommended doses for both creatine and BCAAs.
Can I mix BCAA with whey protein?
Mixing whey with BCAA is a good way to boost your muscle and strength gains. However, be mindful of your overall protein intake throughout the day, including your meals. The idea is not to end up overeating protein. However, if you are active or exercise, your body will need more protein. Know your protein requirements and then control your BCAA and whey intake.