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When to take bcaa

So you started hitting the gym, you got your gym membership, you bought your whey protein and pre-workout, and of course BCAA. You take your pre-workout before the exercise, shake immediately after. But when to take BCAA? Before, after, during?

You are told to take bcaa, because they are very important anti-catabolic, anabolic supplement. Well you are told that by the people who can profit from it. The fitness magazines, supplement makers and sponsored bodybuilders.

You are sold the fact that BCAA are quickly digested and assimilated into your muscle for those muscle gains. But what’s the truth? Are they effective, do they have a place in your supplement list?



You take it during fasted cardio so you dont lose muscle mass. Here’s the kicker, when you take BCAA, you are not in a fasted state. Insulin is elevated. After all protein is made out of amino acids, and they have calories. So fasted training isn’t when to take bcaa.

So the whole point of fasted training is a moot point if you take BCAA. And if you truly wanted to have a anabolic environment for your muscles, you could easily take 30g of whey and be better of.

Or take nothing in the case you truly want to have a fasted training, like fasted cardio, combined with yohimbine at low body fat.


You are also told that BCAA, and especially leucine triggers an anabolic response. Now this is true, but half true at best. Its sends the signal, that muscle protein synthesis starts. But we have a problem and it’s quite a big one.

When to take bcaa
This kind of problem

You dont have one or three essential amino acids. You have ELEVEN essential amino acids. That means, that your body can’t synthesis them from other amino acids. You need to ingest them directly, either with food or with supplements aka whey.

A simple analogy. Leucine is the foreman at the construction site. Enzymes are the workers and other essential amino acids are the building material. So if you drink only bcaa you essentially have twenty doors and twenty windows but no concrete and wood.

So you can have the foreman yelling as much as he wants, without all the building material, the house will not be built.

Insulin does not stimulate muscle protein synthesis in the presence of increased circulating levels of plasma BCAA alone (Everman et al., 2016).

Does not increase muscle protein synthesis.

Acute intakes of BCAA supplements of about 10–30 g/d seem to be without ill effect. However, the suggested reasons for taking such supplements have not received much support from well-controlled scientific studies (Gleeson, 2005)

And yet the people who make money of it, swear that they’re necessary. I think its called a conflict of interests.

Likewise an increase in protein synthesis has also been demonstrated by insulin in rat muscle that is not seen in humans. Of the various studies administering BCAAs or leucine to humans for varying periods of time and amount, the results have been consistent (Matthews, 2005).

Does increase MPS, but only if you are a rodent in which case you are not reading this. Bottom line is, no matter the dose, no matter how many times per day, drinking BCAA alone does not increase MPS. There is no point or right time when to take bcaa.

This happens when you buy your BCAA powder


So, when to take bcaa? Never. They just arent worth the money. They just can’t compare to whey, due to their inferiority, as they are not a complete protein source. On top of it whey is cheaper, more effective and tastier. No comparison really, its a complete blowout.

And if you buy the strawberry flavoured whey, you can still have your pink liquid drink to prance around the gym just like you always wanted.



  1. Everman, S., Meyer, C., Tran, L., Hoffman, N., Carroll, C. C., Dedmon, W. L., & Katsanos, C. S. (2016). Insulin does not stimulate muscle protein synthesis during increased plasma branched-chain amino acids alone but still decreases whole body proteolysis in humans. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, 311(4), E671-E677. http://m.ajpendo.physiology.org/content/early/2016/08/15/ajpendo.00120.2016
  2. Gleeson, M. (2005). Interrelationship between physical activity and branched-chain amino acids. The Journal of nutrition, 135(6), 1591S-1595S. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/135/6/1591S.short
  3. Matthews, D. E. (2005). Observations of branched-chain amino acid administration in humans. The Journal of nutrition, 135(6), 1580S-1584S. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15930473

Author: Ivan Vlahinić

I am not a scientist. But i don’t have to be a scientist to be able to deftly use the scientific method in your daily life. In fact, you can be one helluva ‘thinker’ (in the scientific sense) and not be a scientist. For instance, nutritionists and personal trainers like me, who use and embrace science and the scientific method are better trainers because of it. Why? Because rather than just being a parrot and telling my clients what to do, because that’s what I have been told when I was younger I understand the "why" of my advice. And if I dont? Then I fully admit that i don't, and that's fine. The more you learn in the field of fitness and nutrition, the more you realize there is a lot of stuff that you dont know. But this is something that is true of all fields of work or life. The scientific method is the single most powerful way of thinking, that's why I embrace it. Anecdotes are nice, but data and facts trumps anecdotes.

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