Branched Chain Amino Acids Explained

You may have heard of BCAAs or seen them advertised on supplements. The term is now widely used across the fitness world but what does it mean?! It stands for Branched Chain Amino Acids and we'll now explain what they are. 

Proteins belong to a family of organic compounds and have 3 main functions in the body which are:

  1. Structural - growth & repair of tissue
  2. Physiological - some hormones are proteins e.g. insulin
  3. Provide Energy - not a primary source of energy but there are 4kcal per gram

All proteins are made up of building blocks called Amino Acids - 20 in fact.

Of the 20, there are 12 are Non-Essential Amino Acids and the remaining 8 are Essential Amino Acids (EAAs).

Non-essential Amino Acids:

  1. Alanine
  2. Arginine
  3. Asparagine
  4. Aspartic Acid
  5. Cysteine
  6. Glutamic Acid
  7. Glutamine
  8. Glycine
  9. Histidine
  10. Proline
  11. Serine
  12. Tyrosine


  1. Isoleucine
  2. Leucine
  3. Lysine
  4. Methionine
  5. Phenylalanine
  6. Threonine
  7. Tryptophan
  8. Valine

The EAAs are considered to be essential to the daily diet because the body is unable to produce or synthesise them itself. Only when sufficient amounts of EAAs have been consumed are we able to synthesise the remaining non-essential amino acids. 

You may have heard of complete proteins? These are food sources which contain all 8 EAAs in sufficient amounts for the liver to process the non-essential amino acids. Most complete proteins are from animal sources such as eggs, meat, poultry, dairy and fish. However, there are some plant-based sources such as soy, buckwheat and quinoa.

Of the EAAs, 3 account for as much as 33% of muscle tissue and these are called Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)! :

  1. Leucine;
  2. Isoleucine; and,
  3. Valine.

Gym-goers and athletes are therefore interested in the breakdown of BCAAs in their protein supplement to promote muscle synthesis and repair over time.

Our WHEY AHEAD® organic whey protein is high quality, clean and pure with 18.09g* of BCAAs per 100g which works out as 6.3g per 35g serving. WHEY AHEAD®'s full amino acid breakdown is attached below:

We hope you've found this useful. Let us know what you think and what else you want us to blog about! More on nutrition here.

All the best, Team WHEY AHEAD®


*Figures for WHEY AHEAD® Naked/Unflavoured Organic Whey

Comments on this post (0)

Leave a comment