Do vegan athletes need BCAA supplements for muscle mass?

BCAAs are 3 essential amino acids which are vital for muscle growth and strength. Does vegan food contain adequate amounts of BCAAs for athletes or do vegan athletes need supplements?

What are BCAAs?

BCAAs are the 3 essential amino acids, leucine, isoleucine, and valine. They’ve a unique structure, and they’re particularly important for athletes.

For instance, unlike other amino acids, the BCAAs can be metabolized in muscles, in order, to provide energy during exercise! Moreover, the BCAAs can help athletes build muscle mass, as they stimulate protein synthesis.[1]

BCAAs for endurance sports

Certainly, BCAA supplements won’t benefit vegan athletes who are interested in endurance sports. There are little evidence that the BCAAs can actually improve endurance performance.[1]

The BCAAs may delay fatigue and help athletes maintain mental focus!

BCAAs for building muscle mass

Certainly, the BCAAs are particularly popular among bodybuilders and athletes who want to increase their muscle mass and strength. After all, human muscle proteins are up to 18% BCAAs!

According to many studies, about 10–14g of BCAAs a day might increase muscle mass and strength! But, athletes could easily take this daily dosage of BCAAs from food!

Most noteworthy, athletes could benefit from consuming adequate amounts of food high in protein or taking a high-quality protein! Taking BCAA supplements won’t benefit you further. It seems that BCAA supplements aren’t necessary for muscle growth.

Do vegans have a high risk of BCAA deficiency?

BCAAs are present in dietary sources that are complete protein. Hence, all animal products are good sources of the BCAAs. So, does it mean that vegans have a higher risk of being deficient in the BCAAs? Not at all.

There are many vegan foods that contain adequate amounts of the BCAAs. Vegan athletes and especially vegan bodybuilders should consume them regularly.

Vegan foods high in BCAAs

We can take the BCAAs from vegan dietary sources high in protein. Beans, nuts, seeds, and whole cereals are excellent vegan sources of protein.

Furthermore, vegan athletes who want to build muscle mass should consume vegan foods containing complete protein. These foods contain all 9 essential amino acids. BCAAs, as well. Some vegan foods with complete protein are buckwheat, hemp seeds, chia seeds, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, and amaranth.

Additionally, combining different vegan foods, you can “create” a complete protein. Complete proteins contain the BCAAs. For instance, combine beans which are high protein, such as lentils, or chickpeas with whole cereals to consume a high-quality complete protein!

Should vegans take BCAA supplements?

Vegans who follow a well-balanced diet with foods high in protein, such as seeds, nuts, beans, and whole cereals consume enough BCAAs! Certainly, vegan athletes don’t need BCAA supplements. A vegan diet high in protein, along with a quality vegan protein is enough.

In this case, taking BCAA supplements won’t increase your muscle mass.[2]

Supplements that help vegans build muscle mass

Although BCAA supplements aren’t necessary, vegan athletes might benefit from other supplements.

For instance, vegans have a higher risk of being deficient in vitamin B12, vitamin D, taurine, creatine, or omega-3s. Being deficient in these compounds may impair athletic performance, inhibit muscle growth, and decrease muscle strength!

Above all, try to take these compounds from dietary sources, not supplements. Food provides much more than a compound!