I wrote about Branched chain amino acids a few weeks ago, and that they are largely useless for people unless in cases of hard dieting and wanting to pull out every possible 1% difference maker that could help avoid muscle loss.
Like many supplements, the real world effects always seemed dubious, and while many people would swear they “noticed a difference”, there was nothing quantifiable to measure. Even for hardcore dieting, it was almost impossible to tell whether they did anything. Ive only ever noticed a cognitive effect from them, not a “musclebuilding” one.
In keeping up with latest research, it would appear the BCAAs are, by and large, a complete waste of money.
Per the words of Alan Aragon (a highly esteemed nutritionist and researcher)
“Hey everyone, a frequently recurring topic is BCAA supplementation. A lot of folks are simply unaware of the actual data, so they needlessly waste their hard-earned cash on BCAA supps. This might not be music to the ears of folks locked in a routine of taking their favorite supp, but my hope is that it gives some of you food for thought, and ultimately helps you zap an unnecessary (and potentially detrimental) item from your supplement shopping list.
The high-quality proteins in our diets are comprised of appx 18-26% BCAA as it is. Supplementing with extra BCAA on top of that can range from adding extra unnecessary calories (and metabolic burden), to actually inhibiting optimal use of ingested amino acids .
Let me also add that whey protein has a stronger anabolic/anticatabolic effect than its equivalent in supplemental EAA or BCAA . It’s no surprise that supplemental BCAA has an equivocal track record in the research [3,4]. For those concerned about “going catabolic” doing fasted cardio without AA supplementation, my colleagues and I found no difference in body comp effects between fed vs fasted cardio when total protein is sufficient (both groups retained their LBM) . As for the ability of BCAA to inhibit muscle soreness, note that this is always compared to a non-protein placebo.
It’s LOL to supp with BCAA to begin with (instead of an intact, high-quality protein such as whey, which provides the rest of the EAAs as well as other co-factors for anabolism — but it’s all moot if you’re getting enough total daily protein anyway). Here’s a salient quote from a recent review :
“Thus, as we speculated, consumption of crystalline BCAA resulted in competitive antagonism for uptake from the gut and into the muscle and was actually not as effective as leucine alone in stimulating MPS. Despite the popularity of BCAA supplements we find shockingly little evidence for their efficacy in promoting MPS or lean mass gains and would advise the use of intact proteins as opposed to a purified combination of BCAA that appear to antagonize each other in terms of transport both into circulation and likely in to the muscle.”
The only people who are not wasting time & money on supplemental BCAA are those who must maintain a low-protein diet, or a diet with restricted amounts of high-quality protein. With that all said, if your total daily protein is optimized, and you don’t mind consuming the functional equivalent of really expensive flavored water, then be my guest”
Invest in a high quality whey protein, I recommend Isopure if its your first time buying.
And eat real food.
Case closed (for now)