Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are a group of three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. BCAAs are considered essential because, unlike non-essential amino acids, your body cannot make them. Therefore, it is essential to get them from your diet (which is quite easy to do)
BCAAs can also play several other roles too including the body using them as ‘building blocks’ for muscle and they may help to reduce the amount of fatigue felt by the body while exercising as they can help counter some of the central nervous system fatigue and clear some of the brain fog????
Does everyone need to take BCAAs? No. Particularly if you eat enough HBV protein in your diet (dairy, beef, eggs, fish) But.. they may be helpful for some. Who should you ask? recommends peri and post menopausal women will benefit from BCAAs and I also recommend them for some clients on tighter energy budgets as BCAA’s can help to promote muscle protein synthesis and minimise muscle protein breakdown without a substantial calorie load. Women can also consider ingesting BCAAs before exercise (particularly if doing fasted exercise) during their high hormone phases as women have increased progesterone during this time which is extremely catabolic and can increase muscle breakdown when HBV is low in the diet with hard/depleting resistance training.
Bottom line: protein is super important for muscle growth and to prevent breakdown and if you’re eating enough HBV then BCAAs aren’t warranted. If you’re training fasted, on a tight energy budget, constantly feel the ‘brain fog’ during an early morning workout or struggle to eat enough HBV protein - chat to your sports dietitian as BCAAs may assist you. As always, eat a whole food diet FIRST before you consider any supplements and always speak with your health professional for guidance.