Who Should Take BCAAs?


Who Should Take BCAAs?

Branched Chain Amino Acids or BCAAs are a very popular supplement these days. You’ve probably seen someone at the gym sipping on them while training. Some people swear by them, others say they are a waste of money and most of the general population have no clue what they are. Read below to find out all you need to know about BCAAs and whether this product is suitable for you.

What Are They?

Your body needs amino acids to build muscle, repair tissue and function well in general. Some amino acids are considered non-essential because you can produce them by yourself. However there are nine amino acids that are essential meaning you must get them from your diet.

nzprotein BCAAs lime flavour

BCAAs are a supplement which contain three of the nine essential amino acids (leucine, valine and isoleucine). They are popular among gym goers because they have been shown to speed up recovery and reduce muscle soreness. You can purchase BCAAs as a pill or a powder. The most popular way to consume them is in powder form because they taste delicious when mixed with water. It’s like a fruity drink without all the calories and sugar. For this reason, BCAAs are great for those trying to kick their sweet drink habit. Switching your full sugar fizzy for a scoop of BCAAs can make a huge difference to your overall physical and mental health.


Depending on your personal circumstances and goals, BCAAs can be an extremely useful supplement. If you already get enough amino acids in your diet, then adding BCAAs to the mix should be low down on your priority list. However, those on a vegan diet or people who regularly suffer from muscle soreness might notice a massive benefit from taking BCAAs. As noted above BCAAs are beneficial for muscle gain and are a delicious alternative to sweet drinks.

nzprotein stainless steel shaker bottle

Plant Based Diets

Although you can get enough amino acids through plant-based food, it isn’t always easy or ideal. If you’re vegan or vegetarian and want to optimise muscle growth and recovery, then BCAAs might be just what you need. Especially considering they are a super convenient source of amino acids that you can sip while on the go.

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It is well established that consumption of the amino acid leucine is needed for your body to begin muscle protein synthesis. Foods high in leucine include beef, cottage cheese, ham, pine nuts and eggs. You can definitely get leucine without supplementation but you might not necessarily get enough to achieve your goals. Especially considering that the foods highest in leucine tend to be of animal origin. Supplementing BCAAs can make a plant based eater’s life a lot easier because they contain the all important leucine.

Muscle Soreness

Gym goers are all too familiar with delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). After a tough resistance workout our muscles are damaged and feel sore. BCAAs are considered a recovery tool because they can mitigate this pain. This study found that women who took BCAAs after a squat session experienced less DOMS compared to the group who were given a placebo.

woman stretching sore muscle stock image

Further research suggests that BCAAs are effective for both resistance and endurance exercise. Cyclists who took BCAAs after testing their V02 max had measurably less muscle damage compared to the placebo group. It seems that BCAAs can make a noticeable difference to your ability to recover from workouts. If it is important to you to be able to smash a workout without feeling paraplegic the day after then supplementation can help you achieve that goal.


Whether it be food or supplements, most people just want something that tastes good. This is why drinkable BCAA powders tend to be more popular than the pill version. For those on a low calorie diet or people struggling with hunger pangs, drinking BCAAs can assist with appetite regulation. NZProtein BCAAs contain a mere two calories per scoop and come in a range of fruity flavours. Next time you’re craving a yummy drink to take the edge off, why not try sipping on some BCAAs? This way you can satisfy your sweet tooth without going over your calorie goal.

glass with juice and an orange stock image

Are There Any Side Effects?

If you’re a relatively healthy individual then you do not need to worry about any potential side effects from taking this supplement. Most people tolerate BCAAs fairly well and are more likely to see benefits as opposed to downsides. If you have a condition like maple syrup urine disease or have been warned to minimise protein intake then be wary about consuming extra amino acids.

BCAAs do usually contain artificial sweeteners to ensure the product tastes sweet but the calories are low. In particular, NZProtein BCAAs use sucralose. This sweetener is completely safe for consumption however too much of it can lead to tummy issues. If you are sensitive to sweeteners then BCAAs might not be ideal for you. However if you are a healthy person in general you shouldn’t experience any side effects from taking this supplement.

When To Have Them?

BCAAs are a versatile supplement that can be consumed whenever your heart desires. Drinking them during a workout tends to be done often because some believe doing so reduces feelings of fatigue. This may or may not be placebo as the majority of research suggests you can reap the benefits without worrying too much about supplement timing. Saving your BCAAs for during your workout can be good motivation to get to the gym if you love the taste.

Due to their ability to assist with recovery, BCAA supplementation after surgery could also be worthwhile. This meta-analysis found that BCAA supplementation reduced risk of postoperative infections. We are not saying that BCAAs are magic but the research does suggest they can vastly reduce the time it takes you to recover. Amino acids are very important for the body so if supplementation works for you then definitely give it a try.


If you’re already consuming sufficient protein, recovering well and not looking to spend money on supplements then BCAAs are not for you. But if you’re looking for a tasty drink that will speed up your recovery and assist with muscle repair, then getting some BCAAs wouldn’t hurt. Especially if you’re on a low calorie or plant-based diet. Give them a try and let us know whether they have made a difference for you.