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BCAA Review

BCAA Review Branched-chain amino acids, or BCAA, are essential nutrients obtained from foods rich in protein. These amino acids include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The use of BCAAs have been a popular practice for body builders since it improves exercise performance and reduce protein and muscle breakdown during intense exercise. Also, it helps prevent fatigue and improve concentration. As of the medica field, BCAAs are used to treat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Tardive dyskinesia, McArdle's disease, and many others. BCAA is categorized under Amino Acids.
Also Known
Description Branched-chain amino acids, or BCAA, are essential nutrients obtained from foods rich in protein. These amino acids include leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The use of BCAAs have been a popular practice for body builders since it improves exercise performance and reduce protein and muscle breakdown during intense exercise. Also, it helps prevent fatigue and improve concentration. As of the medica field, BCAAs are used to treat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Tardive dyskinesia, McArdle's disease, and many others.
Typical Dose

Benefits and Effectiveness

What is BCAA?

At the present, countless vitamins and supplements are available at the market today. And thanks to the body building world, Branched-Chain Amino Acids or BCAAs as we all know are now at the peak of its popularity. But, why have they gained such attention in various fields such as in the athletic world, medical field, and even in the nootropic world? Let us now know what BCAAs truly are and what effects they bring about inside and out of our bodies.

Branched-Chain Amino Acids refer to amino acids that have aliphatic side-chains with a branch. Among the 9 essential amino acids required in the human body, the three proteinogenic BCAAs are valine, isoleucine, and leucine (7). Valine is primarily responsible for the 3D structuring of proteins, isoleucine acts by helping both proteins and enzymes while also acting as a source of energy. Now, leucine works similar to isoleucine however, it attaches to other different kinds of enzymes. One character noted for leucine is its ability to help build muscle growth by producing protein from muscle cells. BCAAs generally have anticatabolic property which means they combat the primary mechanism of muscle loss.

What are the benefits of taking BCAAs?

Physical and Mental performance

BCAAs basically deliver energy, which ultimately changes the game on how individuals perform, both cognitively and physically. This is because BCAAs act as a primary source of energy for skeletal muscles in which they can be converted into glucose or intermediates in order to produce more ATP. In addition to that, BCAAs are being oxidized during exercise for energy use and are very important for the production of muscle protein.

On the other hand, BCAAs also play a role in increasing the availability of carbs thereby protecting muscles against protein breakdown. With the addition of BCAAs in your regimen, it could significantly help you increase your desired muscle mass while providing you with the quality energy that you need.

In relation to being a good source of energy, this then helps individuals at the mental and cognitive levels, providing the much needed boost to sustain your mentally demanding tasks.

Muscle Recovery

Studies have also found that BCAAs play a great role in our muscles’ performance and recovery period. With supplementation, BCAAs helps to improve protein production while decreasing the recovery time needed for your muscles.

Fat Burning and Weight Loss Properties BCAAs not only have benefits in muscle build up but also, it can help reduce your body fat content. This is because isoleucine specifically, improves glucose tolerance while leucine increases energy and the oxidation of fat. A study supported this claim since subjects who added BCAAs in their diet actually had lesser body fat percentage and a better overall body composition as opposed to subjects who did not do BCAA supplementation.

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BCAAs in the medical field

Aside from being one of the most popular and efficient supplements in the athletic and body building world, BCAAs also poses to have other considerable uses. Among these include Liver Cirrhosis, Anorexia, Tardive Dyskinesia, Phenylketonuria, and among many others.

Liver Cirrhosis

Liver Cirrhosis basically pertains to a slowly progressing condition affecting the liver in which the healthy liver cells are being replaced by scar tissue. The scarring is regarded to be irreversible and blocks the blood to flow through the liver thereby, also slowing and/or blocking the passage of nutrients and hormones needed. As a result of this, proper functioning and performance of the liver is disrupted. Among the most common causes of this condition includes alcohol consumption, viral Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. (2)

In addition to that, patients suffering from liver cirrhosis have low blood levels of Branched-Chain Amino Acids as compared to the other amino acids inside the body. Now with the supplementation of BCAAs, it may contribute to addressing the problem and imbalance by providing a good source of protein. In a study conducted, subjects who are considered protein-intolerant were supplemented with BCAAs showed a correction of the imbalance. However, more studies and clinical trials are still needed to support this claim since the results do not hold true for other subjects. (3)

Moreover, it has been found that BCAAs may have therapeutic effects on children suffering from liver failure and on adults who have liver cirrhosis. (3)


Basically, Anorexia or Anorexia Nervosa refers to a potentially life-threatening eating disorder that is characterized by an abnormally low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight, and a distorted perception of one’s body weight. Some people suffering from this condition usually binge but then purge, similar to those individuals suffering from Bulimia, another type of eating disorder. (4)

Studies have found that BCAA supplementation may help cater those who are suffering from Anorexia that is associated with cancer or liver diseases. This is because when taken orally, BCAAs improves overall nutrition among undernourished people. (2)


Tardive Dyskinesia

Tardive Dyskinesia refers to movement disorder that resulted as a serious side effect of taking neuroleptic drugs or antipsychotic medications intended for the treatment of schizophrenia and other mental health conditions. It is an involuntary neurological movement disorder characterized by abnormal movements of the tongue, lips, face, extremities, and trunk. (5)

In addition to that, people suffering from Tardive Dyskinesia have excess phenylalanine since the condition has been linked to the body’s inability to metabolize the said amino acid. Now with the supplementation of BCAAs, including valine, isoleucine and leucine, it could help reduce the excess phenylalanine in the body. A study showed that of the 9 subjects being studied, 6 of them experienced significant results with at least 58% reduction in symptoms. (2)


With relation to Tardive Dyskinesia, individuals suffering from Phenylketonuria, an inherited condition, also have excessively high levels of the amino acid phenylalanine (6). Supplementation of BCAAs along with valine, isoleucine and leucine in this specific population works similar to those individuals suffering from Tardive Dyskinesia. It may help reduce the excess phenylalanine inside the body thus maintaining balance of the amino acids. (2)

What should I consider before taking Branched-Chain Amino Acids?

1. Proper BCAA dosage and frequency

Basically, there has been a wide range of recommended dosage with BCAA use and it greatly depends on the purpose of using it. Studies suggest that the estimated average requirement or EAR of BCAAs is 68 mg/kg/day having 34 mg for leucine, 15 mg for isoleucine, and 19 mg for valium among healthy adults. Other researchers also suggest that daily requirement would be 144 mg/kg among adults. (1)

When used in specific conditions, BCAAs are taken between 240 mg/kg/day up to 25 grams in people with brain conditions associated with liver diseases such as hepatic encephalopathy. For mania, the recommended dose would be 60 grams BCAA drink containing valine, isoleucine, and leucine in a ratio of 3:3:4 every morning for a 7-day duration. For people suffering from Tardive Dyskinesia, the dose would be 222mg/kg of BCAAs containing valine, isoleucine, and leucine, taken three times a day for a 3-week duration. Now for the treatment of anorexia and improvement of overall nutrition in elderly malnourished hemodialysis patients, a dose of 4 grams BCAAs is recommended to be taken three times daily. (1)

When starting with any new drug or supplement, it would be best to start off with the lowest possible dose to see how you respond and then gradually increasing it over time. You might also want to consider consulting your doctor or healthcare provider first since a person’s condition and health status may play a role.

2. BCAA Safety and Side Effects

The consumption of BCAA supplements is considered generally safe to use and is well-tolerated however, some people may react and experience associated side effects. This includes fatigue and loss of coordination.

3. Can I take BCAAs with other supplements and nootropics?

Yes, of course. Taking different nootropics to achieve a common goal or reduce potential side effects is called stacking. Stacking has been a very popular practice nowadays since it does not only potentiate the cognitive and health benefits that you wanted to achieve but also, stacking helps prevent or minimize the potential side effects of a certain supplement. Working alone, BCAAs seem to have numerous cognitive and health benefits already. But when stacked with other supplements, the effects of which are synergistic with the other drugs. You might want to consider taking BCAAs with Creatine and Whey Protein. With these supplements working hand on hand, you will experience a significant step up in your level of physical performance as well as energy levels and overall recovery.

4. Precautions, Contraindications and Interactions to BCAA use

It is important to know that not all people are suitable to take BCAAs due to their health conditions or other medications they are taking in. Since there has been no established information yet with regards to BCAAs’ safety among children, pregnant and lactating women, it would be best to avoid its use with the said population.

In addition to that, it is important to know that some medications and supplements might not go well with BCAAs and may interact with it. This includes Levodopa, and medications for Diabetes.

Before starting to use BCAAs, it would be best to consult your doctor or healthcare provider first for proper advice and consultation.

Where can I buy Branched-Chain Amino Acids?

You may purchase BCAAs online or on various health supplement stores around the globe. Due to its popularity, it would be best to do your research first regarding the BCAA supplement that would best suit you and the reputation of the supplement company. Buy Branched-Chain Amino Acids now and experience a significant step up in your physical performance as well as an improvement in your general health.

Reviewer: Kathleen R. RN, PT
Wiki Last Updated: 2016-02-13

BCAA Dosage

Side Effects

BCAAs are generally safe to use and well-tolerated however, some side effects may develop including loss of coordination and faitgue.

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Results & Experiences

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