What you Need to Know About BCAAs in Plant-based Protein Powder

What you Need to Know About BCAAs in Plant-based Protein Powder

All protein is made of amino acids. Some are essential (ones you need to get from your diet) and some are non-essential (ones your body has the ability to make out of other amino acids).

BCAAs, short for branched chain amino acids, are three essential amino acids that help support protein synthesis.

  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine
  • Valine

Benefits of branched chain amino acids?

Protein is important for many reasons, one of which is that it’s the building blocks for muscle tissue. These three amino acids, specifically leucine, can help to support protein synthesis, during post-workout muscle recovery1, which is why many athletes will use BCAAs either during or post-workout.

Back it up – what’s protein synthesis?

Protein synthesis is the process of repairing and building muscle tissue. In the right conditions, with quality building blocks (amino acids and co-factors like vitamins and minerals) muscle tissue grows by repairing micro tears that happen during exercise.

How much BCAAs do I need?

If you have specific nutrition or fitness goals, it’s always best to work with your health care practitioner or a qualified sports dietitian to find a plan that’s right for you.  That’s because how much you need will be determined by many factors, including your body weight. Your body and your goals are so unique to you that developing a plan as special as you are is the best way to achieve your goals. And as goals change, you can work together to make the appropriate changes to your nutrition plan.

Currently, research suggests that 10g of essential amino acids, including about 2 grams of leucine is needed to help support muscle recovery. This is typically found in about 20-25g of high quality protein2,3,4.

What foods have BCAAS?

Good news, if you’re eating a variety of whole foods, you’re already getting some BCAAs. How much total protein and how much of each amino acid you get will all depend on what foods and the quantity you eat. Many plant-based foods are a source of leucine including oats, lentils and beans.

If you’re looking for an easy way to add quality protein, including 3.4g leucine, to your diet try Vega Sport® Protein.



  1. Pasiaskos, Stefan et al. (2011). Leucine-enriched essential amino acid supplementation during moderate steady state exercise enhances postexercise muscle protein synthesis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 94(3);809-818. Accessed on 2/10/2018  from:  http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/94/3/809.long
  2. Glynn, et al. (2013). Addition of Carbohydrate or Alanine to an Essential Amino Acid Mixture Does Not Enhance Human Skeletal Muscle Protein Anabolism.The Journal of Nutrition.
  3. Koopman, et al (2007).  Coingestion of carbohydrate with protein does not further augment postexercise muscle protein synthesis.American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism.
  4. Staples, et al. (2011). Carbohydrate Does Not Augment Exercise-Induced Protein Accretion versus Protein Alone. MEDICINE & SCIENCE IN SPORTS & EXERCISE