What are BCAAs and How do They Work?

The human body uses approximately 20 amino acids, making up over 35% of our total muscle mass. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are commonly referred to as the building blocks of muscle. They are comprised of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. These three amino acids make up about 1/3rd of the total amino acids in our muscles; this should give you an idea of just how important these three key BCAAs are. Essential amino acids are those that your body cannot make itself; they must be provided by the diet, and that’s one reason why BCAA supplementation is so important. BCAAs are used to support strength and power, promote faster recovery after intense exercise, maximize muscle building potential and prevent catabolism (loss of muscle tissue) and also to support energy levels.

During exercise our body goes into a catabolic state (breaking down muscle proteins). To fuel the exercise our body uses glycogen which is stored in our liver and muscles. Glycogen is our stored energy which is provided by carbohydrates in our diet. During this time of stress our body will halt the synthesis of protein to support the energy production needed for exercise; this is where BCAAs are so vital. When BCAAs are ingested they are shuttled directly to our muscles to provide the energy needed to perform at our peak.


Two of the most popular BCCA formulas are:

Amino Energy by Optimum Nutrition

Amino Energy – ON's Essential Amino Energy combines a powerful ratio of rapidly absorbed free-form amino acids with natural energizers and N.O. boosting ingredients to help you reach your next level - including muscle-building BCAAs and arginine to help support intense, vascular pumps. At 10 calories per serving, it'll make a big impression without denting your diet. Mix up Essential Amino Energy anytime you want to dial up mental focus, physical energy N.O. production and recovery support.

Xtend by Scivation

Xtend - Xtend is the ultimate, sugar-free, BCAA-containing drink mix to be consumed during exercise (intra-workout). Whether you're a physique athlete, strongman, powerlifter, traditional athlete (e.g., football, basketball, baseball, soccer, etc), endurance competitor, or just looking to significantly change your body composition through resistance training and nutrition, Xtend is ideally formulated to maximize training intensity and support your goals. Xtend was the first and has become the most well-recognized and used intra-workout catalyst product because it not only works... but it tastes great too!

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Benefits of Taking BCAAs

  • BCAAs also have many functions within our body including:
  • Reducing the amount of Tryptophan that stimulates the brain to  send signals of fatigue
  • Boosting insulin levels
  • Reducing cortisol levels
  • Increasing growth hormone levels
  • Enhancing fat loss
  • Reducing hunger

Timing and Dosage:

BCAA’s can be taken at many times throughout the day, upon waking to stop catabolism, pre workout for energy, intra workout to support anabolism and energy, post workout to enhance recovery and between meals.

A dosage of between 5g and 10g is a standard but this can also depend on the particular make up of the product you choose.

Genesis Nutrition Australia recommends following the directions on the label as stated by the manufacturer.

Amino Energy – FOR AN AMINO ACID BOOST: Consume one (two scoops) or more servings first thing in the morning and/or between meals. FOR PRE-WORKOUT ENERGY: Take 1-3 servings 20-30 minutes before training. FOR POST-WORKOUT RECOVERY: Take 1-2 servings immediately after training.

Xtend – Mix one serving (one level scoop) of Scivation Xtend per glass of water (250mL). Stir or shake and consume during exercise on training days, or throughout the day on non-training days.