Have you been thinking of adding BCAA’s to the supplements that you are taking? In the last few years, BCAA’s have become a big hit following the positive reviews and exposure. So you might be thinking ‘How many BCAA’s do I need to take?’

What Do BCAA’s Do?

BCAA’s help to reduce fatigue, accelerate recovery, reduce the incidence of sore muscles and improve the use of fat for energy after hitting the gym! Branded Chained Amino Acids are a collection of three amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine. Leucine is known to signal for muscle protein synthesis which happens when protein is low and the anabolic signal is shown to prevent muscle loss or even promote muscle gain.

Most research suggests that pumping up on BCAA is necessary when you are struggling to eat enough or are with little to no protein intake. You receive a significant dose of leucine when you chug down a protein shake or eat steak, so the amount of supplement that you take should depend on how much you take it through your diet.

Why Do You Need BCAA’s?

  1. Provides immune system support. Being at the gym means placing enormous stress on the body.  The body needs to tolerate or compensate on this stress or else problems with muscle recovery & even illness may occur.

  2. Protection against amino acid deficiencies. Especially for those with highly restrictive diet.

  3. Prevention of lean muscle mass loss. Taking breaks from your usual workout activity will put you at risk of lean muscle-mass loss, or when you are trying to cut back on body fat with a low calorie diet.

How Much BCAA Does An Average Person Need?

Supplementing BCAAs help to prevent serum decline which occurs during exercise therefore the amount that you will need is dependent on the kind of workout activity that you have. Unfortunately there is no ‘exact’ answer for everyone.

Based on one study from the Japanese Society of Clinical Nutrition, at least 2,000mg of BCAA raises BCAA concentration in the blood. Since the body requires more BCAA during exercise you should consider at least 2,000mg or more of the supplement 30 minutes before or during exercise. But the basic recommendation to get the most significant benefits, would be to take a supplementation of 2-5 grams per serving, twice a day.

Mega-Dosing BCAA

Mega-dosing on BCAA’s is termed when individuals participate in extensive physical activities to help them build muscle. There are risks of taking too much BCAA’s, at an extreme, too much of leucine can cause pellagra (skin disease) and hallucinations from too much valine. One study found that supplementation with 77mg/kg of body weight (5.6 grams for a 160 pound individual) significantly decreased muscle breakdown. A very safe dose is said to be 3gms per day with significant beneficial effects on athletes having a bout of high intensity training. Is it overdose on BCAA’s possible? In 2000 a review was published by the Journal of Nutrition that stated that consuming lots of amino acids does not significantly improve athletic performance. Excessive intake of amino acids also puts more strain on your kidneys since they have to excrete more urea than normal.

With the the overwhelming positive response to the humble BCAA, it is safe to say that the BCAA is the supplement to consider when you are working toward gaining more lean mass and keep those hard earned muscles while working to get that 6 pack! The amount of supplementation to take is dependent on how much of it you receive from your regular diet and on how much you work out. So start off with the recommended amount on your bottle then experiment and find what works best for you.

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Remember that supplements do not replace proper diet and exercise but when used with the right training and weight loss program may help you make faster progress towards your weight loss goals. Also please remember that before taking on a training and supplementation program always consult with your physician first.