BCAA for triathletes | Hiddit Triathlon Nutrition

Feb 25, 2019 11:32:53 AM
4 min read

Branched Chain Amino Acids for triathlon

Have you heard of BCAAs or Branded Chain Amino Acids? BCAA supplements are especially popular in bodybuilding, but have various benefits for triathletes as well. Curious to see what BCAAs can do for you? Take a closer look.

What are BCAA's?

Let’s start with a little bit of background on amino acids: the building blocks of protein. They click into each other like Lego blocks to form a protein molecule. Amino acids are important for the constant recovery process of your body’s tissue - muscles, tendons and ligaments, but also skin, blood and organs.

The protein in your body consists of twenty amino acids - nine of those are called the essential amino acids. That’s because your body can’t produce these by itself, but instead has to retrieve them from your dietary intake. The nine essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine.


Out of these nine essential amino acids, three are called the Branched Chain Amino Acids for their particular chemical structure, forming ‘branches’ containing carbon and hydrogen. The three BCAA amino acids are:

  • leucine
  • isoleucine
  • valine

Together, these three BCAA amino acids make up about 1/3 of the amino acids in your muscles - so it’s obvious they play a very important role in the nutrition of heavy-duty athletes. They’re an important trio when it comes to overall muscle growth in recovery, but also have other great athletic benefits.

What do BCAA's do? 

Wondering what you can get from adding BCAA amino acids to your diet? The different BCAA amino acids have a myriad of functions in the human body, from muscle-building to extending endurance. Leucine is the most important one, with isoleucine and valine supporting it and adding extra benefits. Focusing on triathletes, these are probably the most interesting functions:

  • Leucine: an amino acid that is of great importance for anyone working on athletic performance and muscle-building. Leucine on its own can stimulate muscle synthesis, which simply means that it triggers muscle growth and aids muscle repair. High-quality protein, like whey, often has high levels of leucine attributing to its efficiency. This effect has been demonstrated and proven in many studies on leucine in relation to high-performance physical activity.
  • Isoleucine: this BCAA plays a major role in enhancing glucose consumption and utilization, by up-regulating intestinal and muscular glucose transporters. Remember our blog on the 2:1 ratio, in which we discussed the importance of glucose transporters? For a triathlete, optimal glucose absorption in the intestines is more than essential.
  • Valine: among other functions, the BCAA valine has been shown to reduce the perception of fatigue - leading, of course, to better endurance. Several studies on valine showed how it helped to reduce central fatigue during extended efforts.

Next to these important functions, BCAAs are also known to have a positive effect on the liver, making it a beneficial supplement for people with liver conditions such as cirrhosis. Researchers are also constantly looking for a link between the use of BCAAs and slower muscle loss, and whether BCAAs help you burn more fat.

What are the benefits of BCAA's for triathletes?


Are you a triathlete looking for a valuable addition to your nutritional strategy? BCAA tablets, BCAA powder or a BCAA drink lead to many dietary benefits and improve your performance on the long run. Especially in periods of heavy, intensive training, adding BCAA supplements to your diet can be interesting for these reasons:

  • They improve your immunity. Intensive training stresses the immune system, which causes many athletes to become ill during they competitive season. However, several studies have shown that using BCAA nutrition positively affects your immunity and therefore prevents sickness at a time when you obviously want to be at your best. One study even clearly proved this positive effect for Olympic triathletes!
  • They increase glucose metabolism. Especially the amino acids leucine and isoleucine seem to have a stimulating effect on your body’s glucose uptake. And more fuel for your body leads to a better performance, of course!  
  • They reduce muscle breakdown and increase muscle recovery. Want to prevent muscle damage or soreness after an intensive training? Many studies have searched for the positive line between BCAA supplementation and muscle recovery, and have shown that taking BCAA capsules reduces muscle breakdown during exercise and helps to recover afterwards. Other studies also demonstrated the positive effect of combining BCAA with protein and carbohydrates after training.

As you can see, BCAAs not only improve your performance during a race: they also help you recover afterwards and keep you steady during the whole competitive season. No more muscle soreness or mid-season illness: your body will thank you for it!

BCAA use for triathletes

Looking into adding BCAAs to your nutritional routine? Remember that supplements are no ‘magic bullets’, and should always be part of a well-rounded, healthy diet and nutrition plan. Diet remains the foundation of any athlete’s performance and even the best BCAA supplement can’t replace that. Make sure to add plenty of high-quality, food-based protein to your meals: think meat, eggs, fish, beans and diary. These will already provide you with many of the essential amino acids your body needs.

See supplements as an addition to that. For triathletes, BCAAs can be used in intensive training periods to give an important edge to your performance. They help you keep up during the race, but also speed up the recovery process afterwards and show health benefits on the long run. That’s why we recommend taking your BCAA capsules before a long or intensive training, and straight after combined with your Recovery drink. This will ensure an optimal intake of these important amino acids, so you can reap all their athletic benefits and perform better than ever!

Time to increase your performance with the best BCAAs have to offer? Discover the Hiddit BCAA 2:1:1 - a fruitful addition to your protein intake.

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