BCAAs Side Effects (Branched Amino Acids)

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are highly revered ingredients in the supplement industry due to their ability to boost muscle growth, enhance exercise performance, and reduce fatigue.

Side Effects of Branched Amino Acids or BCAAs

By: Travis

Hi, I am Travis. My main focus in life is to understand training better and help others get better results too. I used to be about the least fit kid in school and would always be last to get picked for a team. It wasn't for a lack of trying, but all my efforts just lead to injuries

For years, I had completely given up on ever getting in shape. Then I began to use my brain before using my muscles. I read every popular book on exercise, and began to structure my training.

With the right training methods, and the right machines, I was able to rebuild my body from the ground up.

According to science, I would never be able to walk pain-free again. And I would never be able to do 20 pull-ups with the injuries to my rotator cuff. But they were al wrong.

This site is where you can find all my tips and recommendations.

What Are BCAAS?

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are highly revered ingredients in the supplement industry due to their ability to boost muscle growth, enhance exercise performance, and reduce fatigue. They consist of 3 essential amino acids, namely Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. And proteins are used in many bodily processes. The most well-known application is of course in building muscles. But, proteins and amino acids are used in many other critical processes.

Before your body can use proteins to build muscles, it first needs to break them down into amino acids. One of the key benefits of branched amino acids is that they are much easier for your body to break into single amino acids. And this is why they allow you to recover and build muscle mass faster.

Another important aspect of branched-chain amino acids is that they consist of so-called essential amino acids. This means that your body cannot make them by itself. Nonessential amino acids can be synthesized within the human body by using other amino acids.

BCAA Benefits For Athletes

Most people know BCAAs for their ability to build muscle faster. They are often found as an extra ingredient in protein shakes and other post-workout supplements.

And that is definitely one of the benefits branched-chain amino acids have. One of the three amino acids, leucine, is particularly effective in increasing muscle growth and recovery. As an essential amino acid, leucine cannot be produced by your body and needs to come from your nutrition.

When your body is recovering from strenuous training, it needs all essential amino acids to regenerate and rebuild the muscle cells.

Another great benefit for me to assess is that they can reduce fatigue during workouts or performances. Two of the branched-chain amino acids help your body regulate the blood sugar level. If your blood sugar level drops, you will feel tired. Too high of a blood sugar level damages your muscles and tissues. Many people with diabetes suffer from pain in the joints and muscles because of this.

So by taking BC AAs before a workout, you will put your body in the perfect condition to regulate his blood pressure efficiently. And you will find that you can work out longer and won't crash as much as you used to.

Another helpful benefit of branch chain amino acids is that they reduce the blood levels of two enzymes. Creating and Hydro Chinese are enzymes that play a part in muscle damage.

During a study, participants that used BCAAs raided their muscle soreness by 33% lower than participants who didn't use it.

The same participant performed 20% better after a 24 hour rest period than their control group who didn't use BAAs.

So if you are an athlete, it's definitely worth trying branch chain amino acids as part of your nutrition and supplements.

What do BCAAs do to Your Body?

Branched-chain amino acids make up 35 to 40% of all essential amino acids in the body.

What makes branched-chain amino acids unique is that they are broken down in the muscles instead of the liver. This is likely one of the reasons why they are so effective in recovery and muscle growth.

Out of the three different amino acids, Leucine is considered to have the greatest impact on muscles' growth.

The other two, Isoleucine and Valine, are thought to be a bigger factor in energy production and blood sugar regulation. They help regulate the sugar stores and liver and also stimulate muscle cells to absorb sugar.

Is BCAA Worth it?

BC AAA supplements are not cheap. These are among the most expensive protein supplements you can buy. But, they also provide several unique benefits. As as we covered before, BCAAs help recovery and so mass growth, and help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce fatigue.

Another benefit of BCAAs is that they consist of completely natural proteins. You don't have to put strange chemicals or herbs in your body to get the benefits. If you want these benefits, branched-chain amino acids are very much worth it.

Is it Safe to Take BCAA Every Day?

Yes, for most people, it is safe to take branched-chain amino acids every day. Many professional athletes and bodybuilders are supplementing their diet daily with BCAAs.

In 1985 the world health organization published a report stating that the average adult needs to consume a minimum of 15 mg branched-chain amino acids per pound of their body weight, every day.

My recent research indicates that the daily requirement could be higher, up to 65 kg per pound of body weight each day.

That means that women should consume at least 9 g of BC AAs per day. And, men would need to consume at least 12 g I'll BC AAs per day.

If you are eating enough food that's rich in protein you probably don't additional supplements. But, this only applies to people living normal lives.

Athletes and bodybuilders put a lot more stress on their bodies. They need more proteins and also more branched-chain amino acids.

A lot of studies into the benefits of BCAAs use a supplemental dose of 10 to 20 g on a daily basis. We are not aware of any dangerous effects occurring during these studies, so it is safe to assume that you can take BCAAs every day.

Before and or after your workout is generally the best time to take BCAA supplements. However, if you are trying to bulk up you can also take them in the morning and before going to bed.

It is important to realize that taking high doses of amino acids does affect your body. Your liver and digestive system will have to work harder. And if you are experiencing any problems or discomfort, you should quickly stop taking down and see a doctor.

In case you are suffering from ALS, it's highly recommended not to use BCAA supplements. And, if you happen to have maple syrup urine disease, you need to reduce your intake.

Potential Side Effects Of Branched Amino Acids

BCAA supplements are some of the safest, but many people are worried about using them. The following is a detailed examination of the BCAA side effects to separate fact from fiction.

1. BCAA and Hair Loss

​BCAA does not cause hair loss and may help prevent it.

Recent theory on hair loss results from deficiencies in the hair follicles' potassium ion channels. BCAA supplements have shown promise in boosting the potassium ions, thus improving hair loss medications' effectiveness.

Hair is mostly made of protein, and a large percentage of it consists of BCAAs. Therefore, it makes sense that maintaining the levels of BCAAs in the body is essential for hair growth and health.

If you are experiencing hair loss, I would recommend taking a look at other causes. It is very unlikely that your branched-chain amino acid supplements have something to do with it.

Result: False

2. BCAA and Acne

Acne is a common skin condition affecting close to 10 percent of the population. Acne is usually associated with being a teenager, but it has been claimed that a high protein intake could lead to acne development.

The Leucine present in BCAAs is believed to be the main culprit since it activates lipid production. However, more research needs to be done to verify this BCAA side effect.

If you experience a flare-up, you can reduce acne's development by reducing your overall intake of dairy.

You might also get more acne from using certain medications, specific foods, or hormonal changes. And if you already have acne an increase in stress levels can make it worse.

Result: Maybe

3. BCAA and Stomach Problems

Users of BCAA supplements have reported experiencing stomach problems such as cramps and gas, but no evidence has been provided that links this to BCAA use.

It is often an increased intake of carbohydrates and other foods that cause flatulence that is usually responsible. If this has been eliminated as the culprit, you could be among the very few people who have problems digesting chain amino acids.

If you experience this, you should try making some dietary changes such as taking certain spices such as coriander and turmeric or probiotics such as yogurt. Another reason for stomach problems can be that you are lactose intolerant, and many protein powders have lactose in it.

Result: False

4. BCAA and Depression

​It has been suggested that BCAAs can cause severe mental health problems such as depression due to some nutrient interactions.

Evidence suggests that a small tryptophan to BCAA ratio is associated with depressive symptoms. However, no actual studies have lined BCAA supplementation with depression.

The BCAA to tryptophan ratio can be reduced by supplementing during periods that increase the absorption of the amino acids into the muscle, such as with physical activity and increased carbohydrate intake.

Depression has far more complicated sets of causes than just BCAA supplementation.

Result: False

5. BCAA and Kidney Damage

​It has been debated for a long time whether a higher protein diet can affect kidneys' functioning. However, no evidence exists to link the two.

Kidney function does not seem to be impacted by a higher protein intake in people with healthy kidneys. It is only for people with the early stages of kidney problems or those with damaged kidneys where dietary protein becomes an issue.

BCAA supplements have been suggested as a viable way of ensuring that those with kidney disease have the required essential amino acids without increasing their intake of proteins.

Result: False

The Bottom Line On BCAA Side Effects

​BCAA supplementation has been linked to many other proposed side effects such as tingling, diarrhea, rashes, and headaches in addition to the ones discussed here.

However, the truth is that those claims have no basis. The only 'real' side effects may be a loss of motor coordination and fatigue, but this only happens in those with pre-existing medical conditions.

BC AAs are a great supplement for athletes and bodybuilders and really boost their ability to grow muscle and perform at the highest level.

It is possible to get enough branched-chain amino acids from normal protein-rich foods. But, if you are training hard and want to make sure that your body has everything it needs for maximum games, BCAA supplements are a great option.

So while there might be some small side effects of BCAA, we would generally recommend them to anyone who is serious about training.

Our Top BCAA Recommendations

Best women specific

Specific BCAA supplement for women by IdealLean
  • Formulates specifically for women's needs
  • Zero callories and zero carbs
  • Comes in 5 tasty flavors
  • Also provides green tea extract, CLA, vitamine B complex and glutamine

Best value

Evlution Nutrition BCAA recovery support
  • 5 grams of pure BCAA
  • Zero carbs and zero sugar
  • Gluten-free
  • Great tasting flavors.
  • Additional green tea, green coffee bean, and vitamin C

Best pure BCAA for mixing

NOW sports nutrition branched amino acids powder
  • Contains only BCAAs, nothing else
  • No artificial flavors or other ingredients
  • Super easy to mix with other drinks
  • Pharmaceutical grade