If you’ve been doing your research on what to eat to see maximum results from your fitness plan, you likely know that getting enough protein will be essential to your success.

Protein is going to provide the building blocks necessary to support lean muscle growth and tissue repair after each intense workout that you do. But is it enough to just eat chicken breast after chicken breast?

To really see the most optimal results possible, it’ll be important that you are getting a variety of protein in and possibly considering branched chain amino acid supplementation.

Let’s look at why this is so that you can understand the full picture.

Essential Versus Non-Essential Amino Acids

The first thing that you need to realize is the fact that there are both essential and non-essential amino acids. What’s the difference? It’s not that you do not need the non-essential amino acids to sustain life, it’s that your body can manufacture these non-essential amino acids out of other amino acids that you provide it. So you do not need to get those amino acids through your food intake.

The essential amino acids however, unless they come in via food or supplement, you will need another source.

These essential amino acids include isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, as well as valine.

Getting Your Amino Acids In

Now, if you eat a relatively mixed diet plan complete with a number of sources of protein such as chicken, beef, eggs, and dairy, you shouldn’t have too much of an issue getting the full spectrum of 21 amino acids in.

Likewise, if you use a quality whey protein powder, that protein powder will also usually have all the key amino acids that you need to be consuming in favorable dosages.

But, for those who are training at a very intense pace and volume, this may still not be enough. There are certain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) are broken down at a rapid rate during exercise and if you are training often, you may be depleting your stores. Even with the incoming amino acids from your whey and protein rich foods, it may still not be enough.

Enter BCAA’s

Which now brings us to how BCAA’s or branched chain amino acids fit into the picture. These are the three specific amino acids noted above – leucine, isoleucine, and valine in a highly digestible format.

These three amino acids play a special role in the muscle tissue as they help provide energy, increase repair and damage, and can also help you feel stronger as well during the exercise session itself. Additionally, these amino acids may also help stimulate the release of human growth hormone, which is a powerful hormone that can really have a strong influence on muscle building.

As such, many athletes will find it very beneficial to consider supplementing with BCAA’s before, during, or after their exercise sessions. They often come in powder form (however you can also purchase them in capsule form) and you will sip that powder mixed with water during your workout session.

For strength training workouts, BCAA is key. During strength training you are more likely to see the tissue breakdown that then requires rebuilding, thus this is where BCAA’s really shine.

Dosage Information

So if you decide you do want to use BCAA’s, how much should you take? You should consider aiming for around 20 to 40 capsules before each workout session, or around 6-15 grams if using BCAA’s in powdered format.

And remember, this assumes you are already eating a healthy diet plan. If you are failing to get in sufficient protein from whole food sources or whey protein powder, you may require more BCAA’s and even then, you will still be missing out on some of the other essential amino acids your body needs.

A mix of a balanced diet and BCAA supplementation for strength training is key.

So keep these points in mind. If you have never considered BCAA’s, now might be the time to start.