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Effect Of Combination Of BCAA & Caffeine On Athletic Performance

Madhura Mohan

Posted on September 27 2021


 thletes from different modalities, including endurance athletes (cyclists, marathoners), game athletes (tennis, volleyball, handball players), strength athletes (weightlifters), those who do a cardio workout or strength training consume diverse ergogenic aids. They employ the supplements to prepare for exercise, boost their performance, help with recovery, decrease chances of injury and aim for a competitive edge. Among the varied range of ergogenic supplements, caffeine and BCAA combination have been widely reported to improve psychological and biological aspects connected to athletic performance.

While the two supplements are well-established and popular as standalone workout aid, there is strong research evidence to prove that two supplements complement each other and augment the potential ergogenic effect of each other.

In this article, we’ll explore the specific ways that caffeine and BCAA supplements work to help adapt to your training and by the end of reading this blog, you’ll be able to decide yourself whether caffeine and BCAA combination is worth taking.




As per the scientific research evidence, the perception of effort during prolonged workout is related to the central motor command. During your intense performance, your neuromuscular system gets fatigued setting a hindrance to continue workouts. At this time, the central motor command has to be increased to continue exercising at the same power output. Caffeine effectively counteracts the central fatigue by increasing central nervous system excitability and maximal voluntary activation. Caffeine is also beneficial in reducing fatigue in isolated skeletal muscles. The hypoalgesic effect of caffeine can decrease the perception of pain, and effort during exercise. Caffeine can increase the firing rates of the motor units and allow for greater strength production.



Sustaining optimum performance relates to the prevention of decreased alertness, decreased motivation, lapses in attention, and a decrease in speed and accuracy. Caffeine’s power-boosting effect and improved alertness come from the way it acts on the brain’s adenosine (a neurotransmitter that transmits nerve impulses in the brain) receptors. Adenosine is known to cause sedation and slow down nerve activity when it acts upon its receptors in the brain. Interestingly, caffeine has a structure similar to that of adenosine and both compete for the same receptors in the brain.

Therefore, increased caffeine availability results in reduced adenosine binding which contributes to more alertness and decreases the perception of effort in endurance activities. In resistance training, caffeine influences motor unit recruitment during skeletal muscle contraction. Caffeine antagonizes adenosine receptors, also enhances dopamine signaling in the brain, which promotes alertness.



Caffeine can affect the use of energy substrates during exercise, it can contribute to increased energy output for greater training volume by delaying muscle glycogen depletion. Muscles use glycogen (a stored form of glucose) as the chief energy source, when glycogen stores run out, muscles lose their endurance and produce less powerful contractions, leading to exhaustion. Caffeine can significantly decrease glycogen depletion by stimulating the body to utilize fat stores as fuel. When fat is used as an energy source, muscles don’t tire easily, so you can improve your efficiency in generating power.

Caffeine increases neurotransmitters like epinephrine, norepinephrine which increase mobilization of fat metabolism. Caffeine lowers perception of pain by causing greater activity of Na+/K+ pump to enhance excitation-contraction coupling. Caffeine increases work output, produces more sustainable, forceful muscle contraction, allows you to perform more reps before fatigue sets in.




Muscle fatigue is a limiting factor for physical performance and is characterized by impaired excitation-contraction coupling. During prolonged exercise, the concentration of free tryptophan and uptake of tryptophan into the brain increases. When tryptophan uptake increases, 5-hydroxytryptamine (serotonin) is produced, which has been postulated a play a role in the induction of fatigue. Since BCAAs are transported to the brain by the same carrier system as tryptophan, increased plasma BCAA concentration may decrease the uptake of tryptophan in the brain, which contributes to a clear reduction in the feeling of fatigue. BCAA reduces central fatigue and increases dopamine synthesis, triggers neural signals, and alleviates central fatigue, perceived exertion, and muscular fatigue.



Another way how BCAA can help delay fatigue is by serving as an additional energy source during sustained training. When your body depletes the amount of muscle glycogen, it will turn to muscle protein for energy. BCAA can work to prevent this from happening by serving as an alternate energy source. When BCAA is consumed during training, it moves to the muscle directly bypassing the liver and is oxidized to supply additional energy. Intake of BCAA prior to or during your physical performance prevents physical performance from deteriorating due to muscle glycogen depletion in the later stages of endurance exercises.



You can prevent the body from consuming its own protein stores by providing it with supplemental BCAA. The anabolic state doesn’t just result from stimulation of muscle protein synthesis, but can also result from inhibition of muscle protein breakdown. BCAA has a chief role in regulating intracellular signaling pathways that are involved in the process of protein synthesis, it thereby prevents muscle loss from happening. BCAA intake reduces muscle breakdown that occurs during both endurance exercise and strength training. BCAA is particularly beneficial for those who do workout on a low-calorie diet, which increases the chances of muscle loss. BCAA minimizes protein breakdown by preserving muscle glycogen stores, BCAA helps recover faster from training, makes you feel less fatigued while push yourself harder to gain more muscles. Serum levels of BCAA reduce creatine kinase and lactate dehydrogenase which are the indicators of the degree of muscle damage.



Caffeine is suggested to be taken within about half an hour of starting your training/gym routine, and BCAA is suggested to be taken as an intraworkout supplement. While pre-workout consumption of caffeine is subjective to mood, intraworkout consumption of BCAA will positively influence muscular endurance, lead to beneficial changes in body composition.

(Note: The results of taking any dietary supplements for athletic performance vary by level of training, proper nutritional intake, nature of training, intensity, and duration of activity and environmental conditions).


While caffeine can improve various aspects of exercise performance like muscular endurance, muscular strength, improve attention, produce more power, BCAA prevents the net rate of muscle protein degradation caused by heavy exercise/intense athletic performance…


Check out how the other supplement combinations work – Whey & Creatine, Whey & Glutamine, Whey & Casein, Whey & BCAA




Also read: BCAA Vs Glutamine - Which Amino Supplement To Choose?

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