In the quest to optimize performance and maximize gains, it’s essential to time your nutrition and supplementation according to your goals. With consistent and committed training, you begin to look for every little angle to reach your goals faster.
One of the more frequent questions I receive is on the use of BCAAs and if it’s better to take them pre or post workout. Branched Chain Amino Acids supplementation can be very helpful to anyone looking to maximize their performance and physique so the timing of them, based on your goals, is critical.
Let’s back up for a second. What are BCAAS and why should you use them pre or post workout?
BCAAS describe three unique amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, valine) that have been shown n research to aid in muscle growth, intra workout energy, balanced hormones during training and increased fat free muscle mass amongst other benefits. Due to their unique “branch”, BCAAS are taken directly up by muscle tissue which provides quicker muscle recovery and maximizes the muscle growth environment.
So when is the best time to take BCAAS? Before or after your workout.
Here’s a cheat sheet to help you determine what’s best for you and your goals.
Do you want to maximize muscle growth or performance in a specific time frame?
If you have a specific goal and time frame in mind such as running a 5k or building bigger biceps over the next few months then you really want to maintain high levels of amino acids in your blood at all times. Especially if you aren’t eating as much protein as you should be.
In this scenario you should absolutely consider using Physique Formula BCAAs 30 to 45 minutes before your workout. BCAAS have been shown to increase levels of intra exercise energy or your ability to do more sets and reps. If you have a specific short term goal then consuming BCAAS before your workout is a good idea.
Is your main goal to burn fat?
If your main goal is fat loss (and who’s isn’t, let’s be honest) then BCAAS should be used pre workout as your calories may be low. During times of reduced calorie intake, strength gains are compromised and muscle soreness is more frequent, all while you are pushing harder and likely increasing your activity to burn body fat. BCAAS have been shown to decrease muscle soreness and help maintain strength levels.
From a calorie perspective, BCAAS do not negatively impact blood sugar levels and actually improve insulin health which is key for long term fat loss. During a low calorie diet, BCAAS can also help to maintain your muscle mass.
I covered the two most common scenarios that I’m often asked about when determining BCAA timing but I’m often frustrated at supplementation advice that doesn’t consider one BIG factor.
We’re all human beings with busy days. We work, we have relationships and responsibilities. Our workouts and diet, while essential, often take a back seat. That’s why I’m in favor of simplicity.
If you work a stressful job and either forget to eat or can’t for some reason then taking BCAA pre workout is a great idea. A lot of people run from their job to the gym, they might not have time to have a balanced meal. Sometimes for me it’s just a banana and BCAAS.
Conversely, a lot of people will go to the gym early in the morning then run right to work. In this scenario, it’s best to take BCAAs AFTER your workout while you shower, change and get to the office. Once you’re situated then you can have a meal.
The Verdict: BCAAS Before Or Workout Your Workout
Generally I advise and prefer BCAA supplementation pre workout. Since The Physique Formula BCAAs also contain betaine, glutamine, taurine and citrulline to increase your workout, I do think pre workout BCAA supplementation is the best.
Once your workout is finished and you’re home or at the office, have a solid meal with protein and some carbs.
That being said, remember to factor in your lifestyle and daily routine in every decision you make.