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How to Take BCAA Supplements So They're Most Effective

The journey to a better bod is hard — don't make it even harder by wasting your money and gym time on these ineffective supplements.

When it comes to losing weight and gaining muscle, you can't always do it on your own. Sometimes you need a workout buddy to keep you accountable, a nutritionist to clean up your diet, or a jar of protein powder to pack in what your daily diet can't give you. But what happens when you find out the supplements you've been depending on don't actually work, rendering the 23 Best Protein Shakes For Weight Loss you made completely useless?

According to a recent study conducted by the University of Stirling, that may be the case if you've been taking branched amino acids (BCAA) supplements. Turns out they can't do it on their own either. While consuming this supplement post-workout will leave your muscles stimulated, BCAA supplements are far less effective than those that have all the necessary amino acids. "The total response will not be maximal because BCAA supplements do not provide other amino acids essential for the best response," says Kevin Tipton, one of the researchers.

The study, published in Frontiers of Physiology, focused on a group of trained weightlifters that took supplements after a resistance training session. While BCAA consumption was linked to slightly higher muscle growth compared to a placebo, the growth was almost doubled when participants were given a whey protein supplement that included the same amount of BCAA and other amino acids.

"A sufficient amount of the full complement of amino acids is necessary for maximum muscle building, following exercise," Professor Kevin Tipton, Chair in Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences at the University of Stirling, said, according to Science Daily. "Athletes interested in enhancing muscle growth with training should not rely on these BCAA supplements alone."

Sounds like it's time for you to stop taking BCAA supplements by themselves and instead opt for a complete post-workout snack that includes BCAA along with protein, which contains other essential amino acids as well. Try blending up a protein shake with both whey protein and unflavored BCAA powder. Or pair your BCAA supplement with one of our 12 Best Protein Bars for a Flat Belly.