Should You Use a BCAA Supplement?

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    Question Should You Use a BCAA Supplement?

    Should You Use a BCAA Supplement?

    There's a lot of debate on whether or not BCAAs are necessary to help you reach your goals. Learn how you might benefit from supplementing with BCAAs.

    I have been heavily involved in the fitness industry for 30 years now, spending most of that time as a competitive bodybuilder, trainer, coach and physique transformation specialist.

    I have also worked with many of the most prominent supplement companies, helping to research, formulate, and test hundreds of compounds and products meant to enhance performance, boost fat loss, augment muscle growth and increase overall health and wellness.

    Some of these products showed great promise based on scientific research, but failed to live up to expectations in the “real world.” Others developed cult followings (at least for a time) despite never impressing those that work in lab coats.

    However, only a handful of pills, potions and powders have truly stood the test of time – becoming essential pieces in the supplement puzzle of top athletes and bodybuilders the world over almost 365 days a year.

    BCAAs is one of them.

    What are BCAA’s?

    This is how Wikipedia defines them: "A branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) is an amino acid having aliphatic side-chains with a branch (a central carbon atom bound to three or more carbon atoms). Among the proteinogenic amino acids, there are three BCAA’s: leucine, isoleucine and valine."

    Wow, sounds pretty technical, huh? Yeah, but who cares, right? You want to know whether you should be using them or not! Keep reading…

    What the Naysayers Will Tell You about BCAAs
    While just about every high level coach (to bodybuilders, pro and Olympic athletes) I have communicated with about BCAA supplementation has related to me that they are absolutely essential (and I agree) in just about every phase of training for elite athletes, there are still skeptics out there who insist that a high protein diet is all that is needed.

    They fervently argue that consuming BCAA supplements will do nothing more than thin out your wallet. So is it time to head to the cabinet and make some extra room by tossing out those canisters of BCAAs? Ummm – not so fast!

    The vital difference between consuming foods high in BCAA’s such as meat, fish, chicken eggs, and yes, even whey vs. pure supplemental BCAA’s is the time it takes them to enter the bloodstream and exert their positive effects.

    BCAA’s found in whole proteins are peptide-bound to other amino acids, and therefore need to be liberated via the digestive process before absorption, which is not nearly as efficient for igniting anabolism, fat loss, and energy production at the specific times the body is primed for these processes.

    The BCAA’s found in supplements, however, are “free form,” and thus do not require digestion. Because of this, they rapidly enter the bloodstream and spike amino acid levels quicker and to a greater extent than BCAA’s from food and even whey protein.

    Now are you getting the picture?

    The BCAA Ratio is Vital

    When discussing BCAA supplements it is important to consider the “ratio” of leucine to isoleucine to valine contained within the formula. There have been a plethora of scientific studies performed on this subject; all attempting to determine what is most effective for triggering anabolism and enhancing muscle hypertrophy.

    Perhaps the most compelling was a study performed at one of the world’s premier amino acid research centers in Stockholm, Sweden, where DNA gene chip analysis was utilized to finally unlock the answer.

    It was discovered that a ratio of 9:6:5 is optimal, increasing the direct p70sk cellular signaling by 350%!

    How Can Supplementing with BCAAs Help You?

    So, just how important are BCAA’s for enhancing the appearance and health of your body? Lets take a quick look at some of their most significant benefits.

    BCAA’s enhance protein synthesis – Combined with weight training, BCAA’s turn on the mTORC1 pathway, which is our major mechanism for muscle growth. BCAAs in fact have the ability to trigger protein synthesis even in the absence of exercise, which can minimalize atrophy during time off from the gym.
    BCAA’s reduce protein breakdown – This is accomplished by decreasing activity of the protein breakdown pathway and decreasing the expression of several complexes involved in these actions.
    BCAA’s can keep energy boosted during exercise – By reducing the amount of tryptophan that gets through the blood brain barrier, BCAA’s help prevent the rise of serotonin produced while training, which reduces fatigue and keeps you alert and focused.
    BCAA’s support fat loss – The amino acid leucine has been shown, when used in conjunction with both isoleucine and valine, to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation. Additionally, not only does isoleucine improve glucose tolerance on its own, but also the entirety of BCAA’s can support insulin sensitivity and metabolic rate. Combined, all of these effects will results in a leaner, more defined physique.
    BCAA’s decreases muscle soreness – This is a very important effect, especially for elite bodybuilders and athletes, who must be able to train and perform maximally with extreme frequency.
    BCAA’s improve hormonal profile while training – Studies have proven that consuming as little as 6 grams of BCAA’s for three weeks helped to keep testosterone levels higher and cortisol levels lower during intense training periods. This in and of itself will increase one’s ability to build, and or/maintain muscle mass during all the various yearly training cycles (especially vital when undergoing a hypo-caloric dieting phase).

    Dosage & Timing of BCAA Supplementation

    There are three specific times per day I highly recommend the use of a BCAA supplement.

    When: Immediately upon awakening.

    Why: Since we get up in a fasted state, our muscles are becoming catabolic and primed for BCAA’s.
    Dosage: 8-12 grams (you can go as high as 16 g if performing fasted cardio).
    When: 45 min before weight training.

    Why: To supply energy and support muscle tissue when undergoing intense stress.
    Dosage: 8-12 grams
    When: All throughout weight training workout.

    Why: To help delay fatigue and keep blood amino acid levels high throughout workout, while additionally reducing (not stopping) the post workout inflammatory response.
    Dosage: 8-12 grams
    Note: When dieting on lower calories and carbohydrates, 4 grams of BCAA’s can also be consumed in between meals to help maintain energy and blood sugar, while also keeping appetite under control.
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    Helpful stuff! It is a good idea to not overdo the Leucine by increasing the ratio of your BCAA. This can lead to unsavory side effects such as muscle pain that cann keep you from getting your reps in.

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    Personally it helps me with recovery especially when I'm sick.

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    Save your money or buy eaa's.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Montego View Post
    Save your money or buy eaa's.

    the debate continues between bcaa and eaa... Ive used bcaa and when used in their place they do help. I have never used eaa, can you tell me why through personal experience why you choose eaa over bcaa?
    This account and all comments made by account holder are for entertainment purposes only, anabolic steroid use is illegal without a prescription.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HFO3 View Post
    the debate continues between bcaa and eaa... Ive used bcaa and when used in their place they do help. I have never used eaa, can you tell me why through personal experience why you choose eaa over bcaa?
    I'm not a science guy but, I do pay attention to it in conjunction with personal experience.

    Bcaas are used as fuel source for muscle. This somehow got turned into building blocks for muscle. Not true. They can help provide energy but in no way repair tissue.

    Eaa's on the other hand Do help repair tissue and trigger protein synthesis.

    An intra workout with 10-15g EAAS and a carb source like HBCD's vastly improves my recovery time. Sub bcaas and I see no increase in recovery.

    I see bcaas simply as expensive water flavor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeyGym65 View Post
    Personally it helps me with recovery especially when I'm sick.
    That's good to hear!

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