Branched Chain Amino Acids

Do branched chain amino acids work?

Introduction to BCAAs

Branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) have become one of the most popular supplements in the fitness industry. Both as a standalone product and ingredient in protein supplements, pre-workouts, and recovery drinks, BCAAs are everywhere. At approximately $18 per pound, its high price SHOULD deliver great results, right? Read More

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Overall Effectiveness Rating for Branched Chain Amino Acids

The overall effectiveness rating for branched chain amino acids is 2 out of 3. This rating means there is some evidence that using branched chain amino acids may lead to positive results. This rating also means that some evidence does not back up all claims. Below you can find individual ratings for specific claims.

Overall Confidence Rating for Branched Chain Amino Acids

There are 28 studies in the database on branched chain amino acids; the confidence rating is 57. A score above 80 means the effectiveness rating for this supplement is reliable. A score under 80 means there is insufficient evidence to ensure a reliable effectiveness rating. Note, this rating is for branched chain amino acids as a whole. There are also individual ratings for the claims below.

Products Containing Branched Chain Amino Acids

Products Containing Branched Chain Amino Acids
Intra Blast
Amino Pro
Assault Black
Pre-Workout Powder
Animal Fury
Full list of all 6 products containing Branched Chain Amino Acids.

Individual Claims

The overall ratings above do no necessarily reflect each claim about branched chain amino acids. Individual claims can have higher or lower ratings. For example, some supplements may have a lot of backing for one claim, but be completely useless for another. Click on claims below for more information.

Body Composition (weight, muscle, body fat) Claims Effectiveness Rating Confidence Rating
decrease body fat
increase muscle mass
maintain muscle mass during weight loss

Protein Synthesis Claims Effectiveness Rating Confidence Rating
decrease protein breakdown
increase protein synthesis

Performance Claims Effectiveness Rating Confidence Rating
improve cycling performance
improve muscular endurance
improve running performance
improve sprint performance
decrease fatigue
increase strength

Recovery Claims Effectiveness Rating Confidence Rating
improve recovery
reduce muscle damage
reduce muscle soreness

The Bottom Line

Overall, the evidence shows BCAA supplements fall well short of their marketing hype. There are studies showing BCAAs improved some measures, unfortunately, the practical benefits of using this supplement are lacking.

If you are already using a protein supplement, check the label. Chances are, it includes additional BCAAs and you are already seeing any benefits from supplementation. Adding extra is unlikely to yield any further results. Many protein supplements include 4 or more grams of BCAAs. For the vast majority of protein supplement users, more BCAAs will not likely lead to better results.

There are some individuals who may benefit from supplementation. If you cannot eat much following a workout or throughout the day, supplementing helps increase protein synthesis leading to a slew of other benefits. There may also be some benefits for individuals who limit or eliminate animal products from their diets (vegans and vegetarians). However, the vast majority of gym goers should save their money and avoid BCAA supplements. The evidence simply does not support their use.

Read full article: The Final Verdict – BCAAs

References

Title of Study
A 7-day oral supplementation with branched-chain amino acids was ineffective to prevent muscle damage during a marathon
Branched-Chain Amino Acid Ingestion Can Ameliorate Soreness from Eccentric Exercise
Branched-Chain Amino Acid Plus Glucose Supplement Reduces Exercise-Induced Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness in College-Age Females
Branched-chain amino acid supplementation and indicators of muscle damage after endurance exercise
Branched-chain amino acid supplementation attenuates muscle soreness, muscle damage and inflammation during an intensive training program
Branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplementation Before Squat Exercise and Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness
Branched-chain amino acid supplementation during a 100-km ultra-marathon--a randomized controlled trial
Branched-chain amino acids and arginine improve performance in two consecutive days of simulated handball games in male and female athletes: a randomized trial
Branched-chain amino acids and arginine supplementation attenuates skeletal muscle proteolysis induced by moderate exercise in young individuals.
Branched-chain amino acids and muscle protein synthesis in humans: myth or reality?
Branched-chain amino acids supplementation attenuates the accumulation of blood lactate dehydrogenase during distance running
Branched-chain aminoacid supplementation attenuates a decrease in power-producing ability following acute strength training
Combined effect of branched-chain amino acids and taurine supplementation on delayed onset muscle soreness and muscle damage in high-intensity eccentric exercise
Consuming a supplement containing branched-chain amino acids during a resistance-training program increases lean mass, muscle strength and fat loss
Effect of BCAA supplement timing on exercise-induced muscle soreness and damage: a pilot placebo-controlled double-blind study
Effect of branched-chain amino acid and carbohydrate supplementation on the exercise-induced change in plasma and muscle concentration of amino acids in human subjects
Effect of Branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplementation on Recovery Following Acute Eccentric Exercise
Effect of branched-chain amino acid supplementation on the exercise-induced change in aromatic amino acid concentration in human muscle.
Effect of Infused Branched-Chain Amino Acids on Muscle and Whole-Body Amino Acid Metabolism in Man
Effect of Oral Branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplementation Prior to Resistance Exercise on Metabolic Hormones, Plasma Amino Acids, and Serum Indices of Muscle Damage in the Recovery Period
Exercise-induced muscle damage is reduced in resistance-trained males by branched chain amino acids: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study
In a single-blind, matched group design: branched-chain amino acid supplementation and resistance training maintains lean body mass during a caloric restricted diet
Observations of Branched-Chain Amino Acid Administration in Humans
Overnight branched-chain amino acid infusion causes sustained suppression of muscle proteolysis
Post-exercise branched chain amino acid supplementation does not affect recovery markers following three consecutive high intensity resistance training bouts compared to carbohydrate supplementation
The effect of acute branched-chain amino acid supplementation on prolonged exercise capacity in a warm environment
The effects of 8 weeks of heavy resistance training and branched-chain amino acid supplementation on body composition and muscle performance
The effects of 8 weeks of heavy resistance training and branched-chain amino acid supplementation on body composition and muscle performance
The effects of acute branched-chain amino acid supplementation on recovery from a single bout of hypertrophy exercise in resistance-trained athletes