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BCAA for weight loss, how can it really help you lose weight?
It all starts with trying workouts and a tough low-calorie diet that can result in exhaustion.
This happens because your body needs time to recover after the exercises and be able to sustain itself.
If you have heard about BCAA’s then you might know that many athletes and fitness enthusiasts use these supplements for quick sports recovery and to build muscles.
BCAA has become quite popular in recent years. A lot more people are researching its benefits and side effects including me!
So, we have put together a complete guide on BCAA for weight loss, with useful information about weight loss results, benefits, and tips for taking them. Enjoy!
What is BCAA?
BCAA stands for “Branched-Chain Amino Acids”. It is a group of amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) that play an important role in sustaining the muscle mass (about 35% of the essential amino acids in the muscle proteins). Let’s take a closer look at each of these amino acids.
Being one of the nine essential amino acids, Leucine has numerous important metabolic functions and is necessary for protein synthesis. Its benefits include the growth and repair of bone tissue and muscle, regulation of blood-sugar level, healing of wounds, etc.
Another important compound necessary for immune function stimulation, promotion of several hormone secretions, wound healing, detoxification of nitrogenous wastes, and other physiological functions. Isoleucine regulates energy and blood sugar levels and is important for hemoglobin formation. It usually can be found in fish, cheese, eggs, seeds, and nuts.
The third important compound, Valine also has essential functions, such as maintaining muscle coordination, tissue repair, mental alertness, and emotional tranquility. It is found in vegetables, soy, fish and other meats.
Amino acids, in general, have the important function of composing the protein that the body needs to create muscle mass and other tissues. BCAAs are a unique type of amino acids as they help the body to convert sugars into energy. Plus, by forming complex muscle tissues your body is able to look fit.
BCAAs are obtained through food and drink we consume, which means the body cannot produce them by itself. When consuming protein-rich foods, such as meat, eggs, and dairy products, we get enough of those amino-acids to sustain us for our day-to-day activities.
However, if you work out regularly and want to build muscle, you might feel the need to have BCAAs as a dietary supplement. Also, this can be useful for people on a restricted diet, when they have low protein intake.
Benefits of BCAA for Weight Loss
There have been studies confirming that people taking BCAAs show better results (compared to whey protein and sports drink carbohydrates) in decreasing fat and improving lean mass. Not to mention the numerous improvements on the body overall.
Here are the main benefits you can get from BCAAs:
1. Reducing fatigue during exercises
Many people have noticed that they feel less tired when they take BCAA pre-workout. They have more energy to exercise for longer periods of time.
According to this study, BCAA has the ability to enhance exercise performance by decreasing fatigue substances and muscle damage substances
Often it is very hard to put 100% into your workout when you are also on a diet and consume fewer calories. When taking BCCAs you feel more motivated to work hard and put much more effort into your workout which will lead to achieving your fitness goals faster.
It really is a difficult task to tone your body by building muscles when you actually lack the component (protein) that builds those muscles.
2. Enhancing weight loss
Unsurprisingly, many athletes use BCAA for weight loss and getting in shape. During the 19-day study period, professional wrestles who were on a calorie-restricted, high-protein diet and at the same time took BCAA supplements, showed a higher weight loss than those who took another kind of supplements.
Also, BCAAs lower the serotonin levels, which helps to remain focus on your training.
3. Reducing muscle soreness
When you start exercising, tiny tears occur in the muscle, which creates that feeling of muscle soreness. Although it means that you are getting stronger, it may create considerable discomfort, especially if you are not accustomed to intensive physical activities.
Consuming BCAA pre-workout and after may help you get rid of that unpleasant feeling and encourage you to continue intensive training by suppressing the muscle damage according to this study.
4. Building muscle
Amino acids are also known as “building blocks” for protein and muscle. Therefore, BCAAs are used to accelerate the muscle-building process.
According to this study in the journal of nutrition, BCAA can promote muscle-protein synthesis so you will gain more muscles.
When training, adding extra muscle is important as it helps to burn more calories each day and regulates insulin levels.
The stronger you get, the harder you will be able to work out which means faster muscle-building results.
5. Preventing hunger pains and cravings
It is extremely hard to follow your diet when you constantly crave for foods high in sugar and carbs. That’s why people often use BCAA to reduce or relatively manage that feeling and stay on their diet.
According to this study, It has been shown that BCAA supplementation in the diet can decrease the food intake by inducing the secretion of the gut satiety hormone named cholecystokinin (CCK).
6. Lowering blood sugar levels
BCAAs may also help you regulate blood sugar levels by making your muscles get more sugar from the blood. However, more research needs to be done concerning this subject, as different people experience different effects.
BCAA Benefits for Women
Many women who work out want to build toned muscles and lose fat. However, the consumption of supplements may create a bulky look that most women would like to avoid.
BCAAs will not create that muscular look, as they don’t contain testosterone elements.
Women should also know that taking BCAAs alone will not help them achieve their dream body goals. The best results are generally guaranteed by combining BCAAs with an effective diet and physical activity.
Whether to consume BCAAs or not depends on your diet. If the diet is already high in protein then maybe there is no need to use amino acids. But if you are regularly workout and there’s no noticeable increase in your muscle mass or you simply lack protein, BCAAs can be a perfect solution for you.
BCAAs have various benefits for women including accelerated fat loss and training recovery, prevention of muscle breakdown, fatigue reduction, etc. Also, BCAAs can help to reduce anorexia in women.
BCAA For Weight Loss Results
The consumption BCAAs can positively change the weight by reducing fat, as you start having fewer cravings and build more muscle that consequently burns more calories.
Studies have shown that combining resistance training and the consumption of branched-chain amino acids promotes weight loss and muscle strength.
An example, 36 weightlifters were separated into 3 different groups. The first group received 14 grams of BCAA, the second group was assigned to take 28 grams of whey protein, and the third one was to receive 28 grams of sport drink carbohydrates during their 8-week resistance-training program.
As a result, the BCAA group showed better results in terms of body fat reduction (1% more fat loss) and increase in lean mass (1kg more) compared to the other two groups.
Also, research has confirmed that people with higher BCAA intake are less prone to being overweight or obese in the middle ages.
Best BCAAs For Weight Loss
If you are planning to buy a BCAA supplement, opt for a product containing a higher dose (at least 4 g/ serving), to make the ingestion more convenient.
Below you can find the recommended BCAA supplements:
Met Rx BCAA 5000 Powder
When taken between the meals it decreases the cravings and appetite. Also, you can consume BCAAs before your workout to feel energized, especially when you are on a low-calorie diet.
Met Rx BCAA 5000 contains 5 g of BCAA per serving, no sugar, and zero calories. It is also gluten and GMO-free and can be consumed along with any kind of diet.
More information here: https://stayfitcentral.com/product/met-rx-bcaa-5000-300-grams-2/
Gaspari BCAA 6000
This other option offers BCAA in tablets. Each serving has 6 g of BCAA, which is a lot more compared to other products usually having 2 g.
Another advantage of Gaspari BCAA 6000 is that it has more leucine (4 g per serving) than other supplements. Leucine is important for weight loss and muscle building, hence more leucine in the supplement makes it more effective.
More information here: https://stayfitcentral.com/product/gaspari-bcaa-6000-180-tablets/
Best BCAA for women’s weight loss
Many women who aim for a more enhanced result are consuming BCAAs for a leaner body and faster post-training recovery. Here is a list of popular BCAA supplements that many athletes and bodybuilders prefer:
Optimum Nutritional Instantized BCAA
Optimum Nutrition is a trusted brand offering various protein and health products. Their BCAA supplement is meant for both men and women. It costs about $27 for 40 servings in powder form and about $23 in capsules. You can also choose various flavors.
More information here: https://www.bodybuilding.com/store/opt/bcaa.html
IdealLean BCAAs for Women
This supplement enhances fat loss due to its fat loss blend that speeds up metabolism and reduces fat. It contains 5 g of BCAAs per serving plus additional ingredients such as green tea extract and glutamine. It has different flavors such as raspberry lemonade, peach lemonade, and strawberry kiwi. It has 10 calories / 3 g carbs / zero sugar per serving.
This product is not suitable for vegans and people with soy allergy because it contains milk and soy.
More information here: https://www.idealfit.com/bcaas.list
When to take BCAA
You can be flexible about when to take BCAA. Simply make sure you don’t have it along with other nutrients, for example taking BCAAs right after your dinner or protein shake.
Here are examples of the best time to take BCAAs:
Early in the morning: this option is best if you usually skip breakfast or do your training when you wake up.
During your training: if you like to work out on an empty stomach you can surely take your BCAA supplement during your training for faster recovery and reduce fatigue.
Between your meals: you can take your supplements if you don’t snack a lot during the day. This will also help to reduce hunger pangs and cravings.
Before sleep: taking BCAAs before bed improves protein synthesis during sleep.
How to take BCAA for weight loss
Taking BCAAs alone will not change your weight. It works best when you combine it with regular intensive workouts and a healthy diet.
You will surely notice a considerable increase in your muscle mass, as exercising is the best way to build muscles and BCAAs help to enhance your results.
The words “weight loss” might be a little confusing here, as BCAAs prevent muscle loss. As a result, you will maintain your lean muscle mass.
When you shop BCAAs, you will notice that different brands have different instructions on dosage, which is pretty confusing. What you should do is consider several factors when determining the BCAA dosage.
BCAA dosage depends on:
Your activity level
If you exercise often, you will need more BCAAs. Let’s say your BCAA supplement serving size is 5g/serving.
- Fairly active – when exercising 2-3 times per week you will need 2 servings per day: 1 before your workout, and 1 serving any other time during the day.
- Very active – 3 servings per day, the last one could be before bed.
- Extremely active – 4 servings per day. Make sure to take 1 serving before and 1 serving after the most active part of your day.
Your fitness goals
It also depends on what you want to achieve using BCAAs. If your goal is to increase the muscle mass, then you definitely need more BCAA. Again, let’s assume we have a serving size of 5g.
- If you want to build more muscle – 2-4 servings per day should be fine. The tougher your exercises, the more you will need.
- In case you want to lose weight – 1-2 servings per day. If you are also performing intensive exercises, you can add third serving.
- If you simply want to maintain your current muscle mass and weight – 1 serving per day before a workout is enough.
Is it for men or women?
Usually, women need less BCAAs than men. An average woman requires 1-2 servings/day (5-10 g of BCAAs) and an average man needs 2-4 servings/day (20 g of BCAAs).
BCAA Side Effects
Like any supplements, BCAAs also can have several side effects. Firstly, you should not add any supplement to your diet without asking your doctor first, especially if you are pregnant and breastfeeding.
Also, you should read the manufacturer’s instructions and never exceed the maximum dosage.
BCAA possible side effects may include:
- Loss of coordination
People with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) are advised not to consume BCAAs, as it may result in lung failure. Also, excessive consumption of BCAA may cause seizures and some degree of mental and physical impairment.
Generally, BCAAs are safe, but in case you notice serious side effects, you must immediately stop consuming the supplement and consult your doctor.
Trying to lose weight by fasting? Check out our Ultimate Fasting Supplement Guide. In this guide you will learn if you should take supplements, best supplements options and what to expect.
This content has been Fact-Checked by a Certified Nutritionist in our Publishing Team. Learn more here.