BCAAs or Branched Chain Amino Acids are a group of three amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine), they have a unique chemical structure that resembles tree branches. BCAAs are considered essential amino acids because our bodies can’t make them, but we need them to survive. Unlike other amino acids that are broken down in the liver, the BCAAs can mostly bypass the liver for rapid absorption in the bloodstream.
Each amino that makes up the BCAAs plays an important role in the body
- Leucine stimulates muscle protein synthesis
- Isoleucine plays a role in glucose metabolism
- Valine plays a role in tissue repair
BCAAs are a popular supplement among athletes because they play important roles in muscle growth, maintenance, and they can be used as a fuel source during exercise.
BCAA supplementation before exercise can help reduce fatigue 
BCAA supplementation can help reduce muscle soreness after exercise [3,4,5]
BCAAs have received a lot of attention from researchers in the form of studies examining their effects on weight loss and body composition. Part of this interest stems from different mechanisms that individual branched chain amino acids can impact our metabolism. Leucine supplementation has been associated with increased plasma levels of the hunger regulating hormone, leptin. [6,7] While isoleucine has been shown to play a role in blood glucose metabolism.
Research on the effects of BCAA intake and weight loss in adults has been mixed.
Two different population studies showed no beneficial effects on body composition in subjects that added BCAA supplementation to their low-calorie diets when compared to groups following standard or high-protein low-calorie diets. [9,10] While a different population study saw an inverse relationship between BCAA intake and overweight/obesity status. 
Similarly, research on subjects combining BCAA supplementation with resistance training have shown different results. With one study showing the combined effect of BCAA supplementation and resistance training for 8-weeks having no effect on body composition or muscle performance. While 3 other studies on BCAA supplementation combined with resistance training showed beneficial effects on body composition (reduced body fat while maintaining lean muscle mass) and a maintenance of muscle performance. [13,14,15] With researchers noting in one of the studies that BCAAs may have a dose-response effect, with higher dosages of BCAAs yielding greater beneficial effects.
Benefits of BCAAs for Weight Loss
While the research on BCAAs direct effects on weight loss are mixed, there are some common ways that BCAAs are used as tool in a fat loss program to stay on track.
- Using BCAA supplements to reduce sugar cravings. A BCAA formula like XTEND Original can be used when you’re craving a sweet treat on a low-calorie diet because XTEND comes in delicious zero sugar free flavors. You can pour some XTEND Original into a shaker and enjoy it on it’s own or it can be mixed into recipes to satisfy your cravings.
- Another common way BCAA supplements are used in fat loss programs is as a fuel source to help people exercise longer. If you can work out longer you can burn more calories which can help you burn more fat
- BCAAs are commonly used by bodybuilders during fat loss phases to help them maintain muscle mass while cutting weight.
- BCAAs also help enhance post-exercise recovery to get back in the gym. [18,19] Successful weight loss programs require a sustained caloric deficit so it’s important to be consistent with getting all of your workouts in during a cut.
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XTEND Sport: Featuring 7G BCAAs, a robust blend to support hydration, and proudly wearing the NSF Certified for Sport certification, XTEND Sport is the perfect solution for athletes both on and off the field.*