BCAA Dosing: How Much & When
Should You Take BCAAs
Everyone into fitness knows BCAAs are great for building muscle and getting results. But when it comes to BCAA dosing, many aren’t sure how many they should take, and when they should be taking them, to safely and effectively get results.
If you take too small of a dose, are you wasting your money? If you take too many BCAAs—what adverse effects could it have on your health?
You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers. Let’s dig in.
What are BCAAs?
Let’s start with the basics. BCAA Stands for Branched-Chain Amino Acids. BCAAs make up a third of your muscle mass.
Branched-chain amino acids are comprised of three essential amino acids:
These three amino acids are delivered immediately to your muscles via through your bloodstream to be metabolized after consumption. That’s when the magic happens. These three amigos begin stimulating protein synthesis—which is the creation of proteins—which in turn, repair and rebuild muscles and tissue.
What Do BCAAs Do?
In a nutshell, they:
- Provide muscle energy.
- Stimulate muscle growth.
- Promote fat loss and lean mass.
- Stimulate insulin production.
- Help prevent your body from feasting on your muscle during training.
What is the Recommended BCAA Dosing?
You’ll often see 2:1:1 on your supplement panel next to BCAAs. That usually indicates leucine is the higher dosed BCAA over isoleucine and valine. So for instance if you have 2,000 mg of Leucine, you’ll have 1000 mg each of isoleucine and valine.
If your panel doesn’t have a full BCAA dose listed, but does list isoleucine, valine and leucine separately, you can do some old-school math in your brain to get your total BCAA dose.
BCAA dosing is ultimately dependent on your goals and training. While the range of studies has varied in total BCAA dosing, they have assisted in determining the recommended daily dosing for those training.
With combined review of the studies the total recommended BCAA dosing for athletes is around 20 grams total throughout the day.
Leucine is recommended between 2-10 grams, with a suggested total daily consumption of BCAAS at 20 grams.
In other words, if you have 10 grams of Leucine, you can couple that with 5 grams each of isoleucine and valine for results. It is important to note the recommendation supports a balanced ratio (2:1:1 or a variation of the same balance).
In some studies, subjects supplemented with more than 70 grams of BCAAs with varied results on fatigue, endurance and stamina but for levels of exercise that endured over several hours.
During average training, one study noted considerable change in body fat composition, strength endurance and recovery at 15 grams of BCAAs per day.
Based on these studies, between 15-20 mg per day is optimum for training results.
BCAA Dosing and Timing
Depending on your goals, you may want to adjust your BCAA dosing. Taking BCAAs immediately before working out will provide your body with more fuel to prevent it from being catabolic during workouts, or eating your muscle.
They also provide your muscles energy to improve endurance and stamina. Some aminos improve muscle contractions to boost your strength, thus there is no doubt taking a pre-workout with BCAAs is important for performance, recovery and results.
Re-supplying BCAAs during workouts perpetuates the benefits they provide, but getting on a regular schedule of breaking up your doses is what will maximize your overall benefits.
Thus, taking an intra-workout with BCAAs is crucial to attaining the results referenced in the studies.
Take BCAAs Throughout the Day for Maximum Benefits
If you love High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) you know you’ll be burning calories and reaping rewards for up to 21 hours post-exercise. This alone is a great reason to spread out your BCAA dosing throughout the day to ‘extend’ the benefits of BCAAs and feed your body the nutrients it needs over longer periods.
If you have a strong pre-workout, you can save the intra-workout for BCAA replenishment throughout the day to build muscle, lean mass, lose weight and recover more effectively.
Take it in the morning, afternoon or early evening to keep your ‘tank full’. Think of it this way: if you’re going on a long road trip, you don’t fill up your tank once—you fill up multiple times so you don’t run out of gas.
If you’re in it for the long haul—or—if your goal is a lifestyle change and full transformation, you need to fill up with the right nutrients throughout the day to ensure you don’t run out of ‘gas’ and your muscles have the fuel they need to recover, repair and rebuild.