BCAAs are like the Marmite of supplements. Either you love them or you hate them. But do they work? Do they build muscle as advertised? There’s certainly research in favour of them, so in this episode of the show, I delve into that research to answer the question once and for all. And to use my FREE calorie calculator, go here:
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In this episode of the show, we’re going to be talking about everybody building bros favorite supplement, BCAA’s because they get a lot of hate, but they also have their advocates, those people who are entrenched in the camp that bcaas offer an additional muscle building effect over and above a regular high protein diet. Now when it comes to BCAA supplementation, it’s kind of like the marmite of supplements. Either you love them or you hate them. That’s kind of where we are with this particular supplement, but what’s the truth? What evidence is this to suggest that actually bcaas could be of benefit? Now, in previous episodes of the show, I’ve kind of gone through my views on bcaas and how I don’t necessarily think they are of benefit for building muscle. If you’re already consuming a high protein diet. Now if you are a Vegan or a vegetarian and specific meals that you’re having throughout the day are low in Lucy and amino acid that you’ll find in bcaas, then it can be a useful supplement to have to boost the leucine content of your meals, which is important in terms of muscle protein synthesis and the building of new muscle.

But if you are not a Vegan and you are having plenty of protein throughout the day, plenty of leucine because you’re eating animal products, dairy, that sort of thing, that’s naturally high in Leucine, then you really have no need to supplement with additional bcaas. Now what I wanted to address specifically in this episode of the show, rather than going back through all of the evidence around specific BCAA research is to delve into one particular study that highlights bcaas as having a positive effect. Now you could find many different studies, but it would get better for dry podcasts. If I just started reading through every single piece of research. Feel free to go into pub med search for BCAAS. You’ll find a plethora of research that you can boil yourself to tears with. How it might even help you get that sleep routine right so that you can rest and recover for your training.

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So maybe is a beneficial thing for you to do. Now what I’m going to do is look at a specific study by Jackman et al in 2017 so you can go and look that up if you want to. Again, it might be quite boring, so maybe just listen. Now in that particular study it said we can include that ingesting bcaas alone increases post exercise stimulation of muscle protein synthesis. In fact there were increase was 22% over the control group, so it seems beneficial versus not having bcaas. There’s a 22% increase in the amount of muscle protein synthesis simply by taking bcaas alone post exercise. So therefore you might be thinking, okay, what if I just spend start supplementing with BCAA? Yeas, I am going to get this increase in muscle protein synthesis. So it does look like there could be some benefit to you supplementing with BCAA’s.

So is now the time to bust out those expensive liquids that look like nuclear waste. Well hold the front door my friend because as usual with all of these sorts of things, the devil is in the detail and we need to take it. This one particular study into consideration versus all of the other research that we have available into high protein diets, into post-workout supplementation into whey protein supplementation and see where it fits amongst all of that because in reality the increases in muscle protein synthesis seen from this one particular study on bcas is actually about half of that. When you see what comes out of research looking at whey protein supplementation. Therefore the conclusion you can draw here is that bcas do have a positive effect on muscle protein synthesis versus having nothing at all post workout. However, I’m sure that most of you out there probably have a protein shake post workout, a whey protein shake.

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Nonetheless. Now if you are doing that, you’re already getting double the amount of muscle protein synthesis effect versus that BCAA supplement alone and that’s because we know that you really need the full spectrum of essential amino acids in the right quantities in order to maximize that muscle protein synthesis process. And bcas are only three of the essential amino acids that you need. So it’s not giving you that full spectrum. Now a logical question you might ask is, well, what about if I have whey protein plus bcas? Does that have a more positive effect? Well, the answer to that is also no, because whey protein is going to give you enough Lucy to hit your leucine threshold to maximize muscle protein synthesis. Plus it’s going to have all of the essential amino acids that you need. So supplementing with bcas on top of that is like saying, okay, this protein shake gives me everything I need, so now I’m going to waste some money and have some more protein that I don’t need.

That’s what BCAA is. Supplementation is Kinda like, but Simon, I’m training fasted. Therefore bcas prevent muscle protein breakdown. Well, newsflash, bcas contain calories, although it might not say it on the label they do. There’s a little bit of a loophole where these supplement companies get around that, but not actually telling you how many calories are in their bcas. Now when you look at calories of protein, you’ll know probably that protein has four calories per gram. Now that’s because we look at all of the different amino acids that make up protein and then basically take an average of each one of those amino acids, how many calories it has per gram, and take an average. And that comes out at about four. Now it does mean that some amino acids have more calories per gram than others. And bcas are one of the most calorific amino acids that you will find at six calories per gram.

Now, in the quantities that you may have it pre-workout or something like that may not be a huge thing. But if you are intentionally trying to train fasted, taking bcaas means that you are not training facet. So they go, so now you know you’re not even training fast. It, it does call into question as to whether bcaas are the right supplement in that scenario as well. Because if they have calories and they have protein, is it better for you to take a protein shake because it has the essential amino acids that you need? And probably you’re not increasing the amount of money you’re spending on supplements anyway. So it’s cheaper, it’s easier, maybe it’s even more tastier. So think about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it. And I don’t think that if you come to a logical conclusion, you will be in the camp that bcaas are a good thing.

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But Simon, I like the taste and I use it for hydration. Great Call, go for it, have at it. But that is an expensive way to get hydration in my view. Anyway. So in conclusion here, yes there is research that shows that bcaas do build muscle, do help with that muscle protein synthesis process. But when you look at that and the data in relation to other research around post-workout exercise, nutrition around whey protein supplementation and some of the other things around high protein diets, we know that the effect you’re getting from bcaas alone is much less significant than something like whey protein plus. That means that if you are already supplementing with way, then you don’t need to add on extra expense with bcaas because is offering you zero value. So save yourself some money, save yourself from the BCAA bull, and just stick with your high protein diet and your way supplementation. So hope you enjoyed this episode of the show. If you did, you can feel free to leave me a comment down below. Maybe you want to subscribe, hit that notification thing, all of that good stuff on youtube, and maybe even check out a few of the videos that I’ve done in the past as well. But for now, what I’m gonna say is, thanks so much for watching. Keep living the lean life, and I’ll see you in for the next episode of the show.

By Chris Wright

Chris has spent many years working and teaching in the IT field. He enjoys spending time outdoors and learning about new topics. He likes playing golf, spending time at the beach and working on classic cars and woodworking projects.

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