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BCAAs help delay fatigue during exercise, improve aerobic and anaerobic performance when taken regularly, and help fortify the immune system.

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BCAA, or Branched Chain Amino Acids, in their supplement form, is widely studied and commonly used in the world of sports nutrition. This supplement has been shown to be very beneficial for seasoned athletes or even for those just beginning their exercise journey.

What can they do?

BCAAs have been shown to help the body to increase muscular growth, reduce muscular fatigue during exercise, reduce exercise-induced soreness, and more in adults of all ages.

The Science: What Are BCAAs?

Amino acids are the organic compounds that create proteins, and proteins are what make up the structure of our bodies. There are two types of amino acids. The first kind is the type our bodies make. We call them non-essential because our body can produce them. The second kind is called essential because we must supply our body with them through proper nutrition.

According to WebMD1, “Branched-chain amino acids are essential nutrients that the body obtains from proteins found in food, especially meat, dairy products, and legumes. They include leucine, isoleucine, and valine.” They are called “branched” because of their nonlinear carbon atom configuration.

BCAAs are a delicious supplement that anyone can take in order to give their bodies a nutrition boost that can do a number of things including the following:

Delay Fatigue During Extended Periods Of Exercise

Think about the endurance it requires to run marathons or the training schedule of an athlete. During intensive training, our bodies need additional fuel to continue to perform because eventually, everybody experiences peripheral fatigue, or neuromuscular (muscular) fatigue, the point at which the muscles become tired and performance declines. For many athletes, BCAAs are used as that additional “fuel source” for their working muscles during training sessions to help them go that extra mile.

When you work out, what part of you wants to quit first, your body or your mind?

We know that our muscles get tired. However, your brain can also begin to signal fatigue or the feeling of being exhausted. This is when your body experiences CNS fatigue, or central fatigue, the point at which the brain becomes tired.  According to Newsholme & Blomstrand (2006)2, this occurs because when you begin to work out “there is an uptake of Trp (tryptophan) by the brain.” As you probably already know, tryptophan can make you feel sleepy. In the report, they also attest that oral intake of BCAAs may reduce this uptake thereby delaying fatigue. Chen et al. (2016)3 confirms this finding in their study of elite athletes.  In their study, BCAA was combined with arginine and citrulline.

Boost Your Immune System

When you train often and you train hard over an extended period of time your body can become increasingly fatigued. As this happens, the body can also experience a decrease in the effectiveness of the immune system.

BCAAs have been shown to have an intimate connection with intestinal functions which contribute to gut health according to Nie et al. (2018)4. A healthy gut is a strong indicator of a healthy immune system as well as overall health. The study goes on to say that BCAAs may enhance disease resistance and intestinal health through modulation of endogenous. This is a benefit for all people, not just those who work out. However, it is also true for athletes.

In a study on endurance cyclists by Kephart et al. (2016)5, researchers confirmed that the use of BCAAs can benefit immune function during a prolonged cycling season. Thus we can conclude that the use of BCAAs can help to boost the immune system. It aids in recovery and keeps you well so that you can continue to train at elevated levels.

Slow The Loss Of Muscle Mass, Increase Muscle Protein Synthesis & Increase Muscle Mass

BCAAs in their supplement form are different than other essential amino acids that you must consume because they are metabolized within the muscle instead of having to be broken down by the liver first. This is important because they can be quickly absorbed into the bloodstream and made available to your muscle tissue which is key in preventing muscle loss and in the building of new lean muscle mass.

Leucine is the true power player, the anabolic factor, of the three essential amino acids that BCAAs provide. Think of them as a safety bubble for your muscles that not only slow the loss of muscle but also increase protein synthesis and even promote muscle growth.

How does it work?

According to Norton & Layman (2006)6, “After exercise, recovery of muscle protein synthesis requires dietary protein or BCAA to increase tissue levels of leucine. Together, insulin and leucine allow skeletal muscle to coordinate protein synthesis with physiological state and dietary intake.”

By providing supplemental BCAAs, your body is less likely to eat its own protein stores (amino acids) which would otherwise be available to create new muscle mass as your body repairs itself. Think of BCAAs as your muscle insurance policy!

In an animal study by Zheng et al. (2016)7 they found that “supplementation of BCAA to reduced-protein diet increases fed-state protein synthesis and inhibits fasted-state protein degradation, both of which could contribute to the elevation of skeletal muscle mass in piglets.”

Most weight lifters, especially bodybuilders, use BCAAs religiously. The goal in bodybuilding is to lose fat via caloric restriction while increasing and/or preserving muscle mass while exercising extensively. Sometimes bodybuilders work out in a fasted state, much like the pigs in the aforementioned study. BCAAs help them to achieve their goal of preserving muscle while getting extremely lean.

In a human study by Dudgeon et al. (2016)8 they studied athletes and active adults whose goal was improving and/or maintaining their fitness while losing weight.  These results show that the subjects who used BCAA supplementation in conjunction with a hypocaloric diet could effectively maintain lean mass and preserve skeletal muscle performance while losing fat mass.

Jackman et al. (2017)9 also suggest that the ingestion of intact protein or essential amino acids (EAA) stimulates the mechanistic target of rapamycin complex-1 (mTORC1) signaling and muscle protein synthesis (MPS) following resistance exercise.

No one has ever gone to the gym to get rid of muscle, so help your muscles out by supplementing with BCAAs. Having strong muscles is part of having a healthy body.  Not only are they important for us when we are young, but they are especially important when we are older.

Preserving Muscle Mass In Middle-Aged & High-Aged Adults

Sarcopenia is a dirty word.

If you’ve never heard of it, it is age-related loss of muscle mass. According to Harvard Health10, after age 30, you begin to lose as much as 3% to 5% per decade, and most men will lose about 30% of their muscle mass during their lifetimes.

As we lose muscle mass we also lose mobility. Our bodies become weaker which leads to greater risk of falling. At a certain age, these falls and the injuries that accompany them to become a huge concern. Have you had an elderly relative fall and break a bone? Recovery is typically very difficult and some don’t recover from their falls.

Preserving or adding muscle mass may be more important for middle-aged adults and high-aged adults than it is for younger adults. Not only should older adults still resistance train, but they also need to supply their bodies with the proper nutrients that allow their bodies to sustain their current muscle mass or grow new lean muscle mass. YES – You can still build muscle after the age of 30, and even when you are 80+ if you are taking care of your body, and BCAAs will help.

Katsanos et al. (2006)11 studied the impact of supplementing with high concentration leucine supplement in the elderly. They found that “increasing the proportion of leucine in a mixture of EAA (essential amino acids) can reverse an attenuated response of muscle protein synthesis in the elderly.”

The International Council on Amino Acid Science12 reported that from their summary of all comparable trials, one could deduce that the minimum dose of leucine to stimulate muscle growth and strength in the elderly was at least 3 g leucine. They found that an additional benefit of supplementing with leucine and BCAA mixtures was positive impacts on body weight and body fat control.

Reduce Muscle Soreness, Damage & Fatigue Post-Exercise

What is the worst part about starting a new gym routine? The overwhelming majority of people would probably say being sore. Soreness that occurs within hours of exercise, typically within 12-24 hours after, is called delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS.  It can peak at 72 hours.

BCAAs taken before exercise have been proven to help reduce the amount of time that the soreness lasts and, it has been shown to decrease the intensity of the pain. A study by Shimomura et al. (2010)13 put this to the test. They examined the effect of BCAA supplementation on 12 untrained female participants using the squat exercise. They first gave the participants either BCAAs or a placebo and then had them train in order to induce delayed-onset muscle soreness. They reported, “DOMS showed a peak on Days 2 and 3 in both trials, but the level of soreness was significantly lower in the BCAA trial than in the placebo.”

A similar study by Sharp & Pearson (2010)14 found similar results. The difference in this study is that the participants were well-trained males who were previously resistance trained. Researchers put them through a bout of high-intensity training called overreaching, which is a form of training that pushes one past their typical level of training, but it is less severe than overtraining. What they found is that supplementation with BCAA “may produce a net anabolic hormonal profile while attenuating training-induced increases in muscle tissue damage.” This finding is important because it shows that with proper supplementation that athletes “may increase subsequent competitive performance while decreasing the risk of injury or illness.”

From these studies, we can conclude that taking BCAAs before workouts can help anyone from first-time gym goers to seasoned athletes to lessen the impact of DOMS. Being less sore and for a shorter period of time will help you stick to your workout routine more consistently.

When Should You Take BCAA & How Much?

Branched Chain Amino Acids can be taken at any time. It is best to be consistent in taking them daily which could be before, during, or after your workouts. However, for the best results research that was previously discussed shows that BCAAs taken before workouts provides the greatest benefits.

Shimomura et al. (2006)15 reported that BCAA supplementation before exercise slows the breakdown of muscle proteins during exercise and that leucine strongly promotes protein synthesis in skeletal muscle which suggests that a BCAA supplement may slow muscle damage induced by exercise and promote recovery from the damage.

A more recent study by Ra et al. (2018)16 suggests the same. They confirmed that repeated BCAA supplementation before exercise had a more beneficial effect in attenuating DOMS and EIMD (exercise-induced muscle damage) induced by eccentric exercise than repeated supplementation after exercise.

Note that the second study said, “repeated.” Consistency in taking BCAAs is just as highly recommended as taking it before your gym sessions. Even if you don’t work out every day, it is okay to consume your regular dose on off-days.

When you purchase BCAAs, the label will guide you on the quantity to take. The label will also give you the concentration of leucine, isoleucine, and valine that are supplied in each scoop. Typically you will take 1-2 scoops of BCAAs mixed in water each day, every day.

If you take two scoops per day, split the timing. Take one scoop before you work out, and take one after you work out. If you work out in the evenings, take one scoop in the mornings and one before you work out. You can make the timing work for you.


BCAA are a delicious way to provide your muscles with needed nutrients. They come in a variety of flavors and may become your favorite supplement, not only because of the taste but because of the many positive impacts it has on your muscular health.

Supplement Facts

Serving Size: 2 capsules
Servings Per Container: 30

IngredientAmount Per Serving%DV
* Daily value not established.

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