Thoughts on bcaa

Just curious to know what are the best brands and when the best time to take them before,during , or after a ride and are they beneficial

I like the Xtend brand, yeah it’s a horrible name but the drinks taste pretty good.

I’m not sure about the timing, I drink them during the day as more a dietary supplement, and I do like the taste of a few of their flavors so it helps me get plenty of water.

Do they work? They haven’t changed my life or anything but I like drinking them and I can’t tell that they’re hurting.


I like to take them during my rides. Not sure how much difference it makes on the bike, but I definitely noticed a difference while lifting weights. I take Revolution Pure BCAA. Tastes is good.

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during ride - Gu Roctane energy drink mix

post ride - milk and chicken

edit: I bought Roctane energy for liquid carbs, and only liquid carbs, after developing some digestion issues with Hammer Perpetuem. Although Roctane has BCAAs, it is a “don’t care” and so I reluctantly listed Roctane as “during ride” even though I would happily ride without BCAAs.

That said, I love my post-ride milk and burrito ritual and that is primary source of carb/protein/bcaa.

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Looked into some research papers about the subject and I got the idea that supplementing with BCAA doesn’t provide you with any proper benefits.


You are correct, that is what the science says. The marketing on the other hand says they will change your life. So just figure out whether you want peer reviewed blinded trials or, you know, snake oil


What research papers? I’ve often wondered if they really do anything…

I currently use Earth Genius Lemon Tea flavor. I don’t like to ingest fake sugars. Personally I thought the Xtend Kiwi Watermelon flavor tasted horrible, I sent it back. Gnarly Nutritions Berry Lemonade BCAA w/ caffeine tastes pretty good too

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BCAAs don’t provide extra strength/muscle gain benefits, but there is evidence that shows that it helps prevent DOMS when consumed before a workout, especially if you are running a calorie deficit.

I’ve experimented with them and found the supplement to work well at preventing DOMS when doing hard training blocks.

I like the Optimum Nutrition Pro BCAA raspberry lemonade flavor.

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The general consensus is that if you are eating poor quality or not enough protein you get less muscle soreness after a workout by adding BCAA supplements, but no strength or recovery benefits.

With a healthy diet even the muscle soreness claims go away because, like with all protein sources, the body can only process so much and you’re going to be getting more than you can process from your food already


Plenty of recent studies purporting that your money would be better spent on a complete protein and/or better yet ensuring adequate dietary intake.

Alan Aragon has covered this recently.


Why not take a full spectrum AA blend? With BCAA you miss on 17 essential AA. I take some when I do a fasted workout.

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My understanding of BCCA supplementation is that there aren’t many scientifically valid uses for them but one that may exist is potential muscle sparing capabilities when training fasted.

While there is little evidence for using them for muscle synthesis there is some evidence that leucine can help recovery from training sessions that are completed fasted with the BCCA’s taken prior to the workout which don’t raise insulin levels enough to break the fast.

From what I read though even this is subject to much debate so you pays your money and takes your choice!


Just as an aside, is a pretty useful site for researching all of these various supplements. They do a pretty thorough run down of the research and supposed benefits.


I also use the Revolution mix although I plan to stop using it when the tub runs out.

2019 will be the first time I intend to do some racing at USA Cycling sanctioned events. There’s always a risk using supplements when in any testing pool even if it’s excessive paranoia on my end. I’d rather find a way to get what I need through food.

I have some bcaa, but it should be noted that it has side effects on your reproductive health
You can consult:

As @JulianM noted they may have a benefit for fasted rides or during times of calorie restriction if you aren’t getting as much protein in your diet as you need. That being said they are not the complete spectrum of amino acids, and real food should be the preference. I don’t think I’ve come across studies which have anaylzed BCAA’s effects on this like fasted rides (but I also didn’t dig through the ones posted here :roll_eyes:).

If you don’t purchase them in a ready made drink mix they are cheap enough that you may consider seeing how they work for you. I just looked at my Amazon order history and in June 2017 I bought 1kg of BCAA (3:1:2) for about $32. I just did the math, I use 1/4 teaspoon at a time which is a bit more than 2,000 servings. Which also explains why the other day I felt like it must be time to order some more and yet when I really looked into the bag there was still enough for several more months, I feel like I’ve had this bag forever.

I’ve been doing a little more reading around recovery drinks since the appearance of @ambermalika on the podcast alongside my need to make another batch.

From what I’ve read more recently around the issue is that while whey protein is the ideal recovery protein it is the high leucine component of the whey that is one key drivers in the process and whey in itself may not have the ideal ratio of leucine as it comes.

are a couple of quite few articles I’ve come across.

Thus my newly made batch of recovery shake contains

65g Maltodextrin (1g/kg bodyweight)
16g Whey Protein (to make a 4:1 carb/protein ratio)
5g BCCA (to make up the leucine deficit it the Whey)
7g Glutamine
5g Creatine
3g Beta Alanine

for a 100g serving mixed with water and a sucralose based flavouring. I’m just going to sit back now and wait for the inevitable performance improvements :grinning:

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Oh wow you’re using a lot more BCAA than I do. I usually use 25g whey and about 1g BCAA, I also about 0.5g to my mix in my bottle and another 0.5g to my pre-race/big ride oatmeal.

I use to have 10g before a fasted morning weights session when I used to do those. The batch of BCCA’s I’ve got is 2:1:1 ratio so it’s only a couple of extra grams of leucine to add to the amount in the whey.

Once the BCAA’s I’ve got run out I might look into just buying leucine powder or more probably HMB as an alternative.