BCAA before or after workout: Exploring the Impact of Timing

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BCAA before or after workout

Branched-chain amino Acids (BCAAs) are at the heart of the workout supplement debate: Should you take BCAA before or after workout?

In my fitness journey, I’ve discovered that personal experimentation and keen observation play a crucial role in answering this question. Here, I share my observations, experiments, and experience of BCAA supplementation for workouts.

I. BCAA before or after workout: Experiments and observations

Every fitness journey is unique, and so are the objectives. For me, it was about enhancing muscle growth and reducing fatigue to maximize the efficiency of my workouts. To this end, I tried consuming BCAAs before and after workouts for one month each. Here’s what I noted: 

Experiment 1: Taking BCAAs before workouts

Dosage and Timing: I started with a standard dosage of BCAAs, typically 5 grams, taken 15-30 minutes before my workout. This allowed the supplement to kick in just as I hit the gym.

Energy Levels and Workout Performance: The energy boost was noticeable. I felt a sustained level of energy during my workouts, especially during high-intensity exercises.

Muscle Soreness and Recovery: Surprisingly, I also noticed a reduction in muscle soreness post-workout. It seemed that BCAAs were aiding in a quick recovery.

Experiment 2: Taking BCAAs after workouts

Dosage and Timing: After my workout, I would consume 5 grams of BCAAs to aid in post-workout recovery.

Energy Levels and Workout Performance: Although the energy boost wasn’t as instantaneous as pre-workout consumption, I felt it helped in the recovery phase, aiding in subsequent workouts. In any case, an energy boost isn’t even a necessity in the post-workout phase.

Muscle Soreness and Recovery: BCAAs post-workout seemed to expedite my recovery process. Again, I felt less post-exercise muscle soreness when I took BCAA after workout. So, that effect seems common to both pre and post-workout BCAA supplementation.

II. Scientific Insights on BCAAs: Navigating the Landscape

I realized that diving into the scientific realm of BCAAs was essential to truly grasp their potential. 

BCAAs, or Branch Chain Amino Acids, constitute a trio of indispensable amino acids—valine, leucine, and isoleucine. The significance of these amino acids in muscle synthesis and overall well-being is nothing short of remarkable.

As I delved into these scientific insights, aligning them with my personal experiences became a riveting exercise, painting a holistic picture of how BCAAs could optimize my fitness journey.

1. Overview of BCAAs: The Amino Trio

Valine, isoleucine, and leucine make up BCAAs [1]NASM: BRANCHED-CHAIN AMINO ACIDS (BCAAS): DO YOU NEED TO TAKE THEM?, named for their distinct branched molecular structure. 

These amino acids are essential, implying that our bodies cannot produce them, necessitating their intake through diet or supplements. 

In my fitness journey, I opted for BCAA supplements to ensure a low-calorie, concentrated, and convenient source of this crucial energy-boosting nutrient.

2. Research on BCAAs before and during Workouts

Scientific inquiries into BCAAs’ effects prior to workouts have shed light on their potential to fuel exercise sessions. 

BCAAs, taken before engaging in physical activities, have been shown to significantly reduce fatigue during intense workouts like HIIT or strength training.

Their ability to obstruct the entry of tryptophan into the brain, a precursor to serotonin linked to fatigue, intrigued me. Could BCAAs be my gateway to longer, more energetic workouts?

3. Research on BCAAs after Workouts: Aiding Recovery and Growth

Post-workout recovery is a crucial phase, and BCAAs have shown promise in this domain as well. The synthesis of protein in muscles and the suppression of muscle protein breakdown are attributed to BCAAs. 

In this respect one study has observed that consumption of BCAAs during and after workouts [2]ScienceDirect: Interrelationship between Physical Activity and Branched-Chain Amino Acids stimulate muscle amino acid uptake and protein synthesis during recovery from exercise.

As someone aiming to maximize gains from every session, understanding the science behind their post-workout role became essential. Could they expedite my recovery and boost muscle growth after those strenuous gym sessions?

III. Aligning personal observations with scientific benefits

In my case, personal experiences significantly aligned with the scientific research on BCAA. The energy boost, reduced soreness, and enhanced recovery were in line with established research.

As I diligently consumed BCAAs before and after workouts, I observed intriguing patterns in my body’s response. The touted benefits of enhanced energy levels during workouts and reduced muscle soreness resonated with my experiences. 

The scientific explanation of BCAAs serving as building blocks for muscle proteins directly correlated with the muscle growth I noticed. 

The literature emphasizing the prevention of muscle breakdown through BCAAs became evidently accurate as I felt less fatigued after intense workout sessions.  

Review by BPI Sports – When to take BCAA?

IV. Benefits of Consuming BCAAs

BCAAs offer a range of benefits, some of which I have already referred to above. So I am simply going to put this briefly here: 

  • Promotes muscle protein synthesis which is essential for muscle growth.
  • Provides an energy boost, especially during prolonged workouts.
  • Aids in healthy metabolism and burns more fat.
  • Reduces fatigue allowing for longer and more efficient workouts.
  • Can reduce symptoms and incidence of DOMS. It aids in quicker recovery and reduced post-workout soreness.
  • Boosts your immunity.
  • Helps maintain overall health, especially during intense training.

V. Factors influencing BCAA effectiveness

Understanding the factors that influence the effectiveness of BCAAs is a critical aspect of harnessing their full potential for personalized fitness goals. Dosage, frequency of consumption, and timing can significantly impact the outcomes of integrating BCAAs into your fitness regimen.

1. Dosage

Consuming an appropriate dosage ensures the body has adequate amino acids to support muscle growth, reduce muscle breakdown, and enhance overall workout performance.

BCAAs are typically consumed in a 2:1:1 ratio of leucine to isoleucine and valine, mirroring their natural proportion in muscle. After all, leucine, a primary amino acid in this trio, plays a critical role in stimulating muscle protein synthesis. 

A daily dose of at least 91 mg per pound (200 mg per kg) of body weight is considered effective. For instance, an individual weighing 75 kg should consume a minimum of 15 grams of BCAAs daily. 

2. Frequency

Studies indicate that spreading the total daily BCAA intake across two or more doses, including before and after workouts, may be more beneficial. 

This approach ensures a sustained and steady supply of BCAAs to the muscles. By doing so, BCAAs can better support protein synthesis, muscle recovery, and energy levels during workouts. 

Incorporating BCAAs into multiple meals or supplementation times can also enhance their absorption and utilization by the muscles. If you plan to do so, just divide the recommended daily intake amount carefully.

3. Duration and Timing

BCAAs are rapidly absorbed in the body, with their levels peaking in the blood approximately 30 minutes after ingestion. It is also traditional for some experts to suggest consumption at around 45-60-minute post-exercise ‘anabolic window.’ But this has recently been debunked.

When taken before a workout, BCAAs can act as a source of immediate energy during the exercise session, aiding in performance and endurance. Conversely, consuming BCAAs post-workout provides the muscles with essential amino acids crucial for repair, recovery, and growth, ultimately impacting the reduction of muscle soreness and fatigue. 


In the debate of BCAAs before or after a workout, personal experimentation has been my guide. Aligning these experiments with scientific findings has allowed me to fine-tune my supplementation, optimizing my workout results. Remember, BCAAs are a valuable tool in your fitness arsenal, and finding what works best for you is key to achieving your fitness goals.

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