Everyone who leads a fit lifestyle and cares about their health, understand how important protein is when it comes to achieving great physique goals. Countless studies have already shown how increased protein consumption leads to increased muscle gains, enhanced immunity and curbed appetite, making you feel full for longer periods, thus leading to reduced body fat levels. And even though protein, especially whey protein, has proven itself to be very effective at helping people build better-looking bodies, new studies have started surfacing claiming that several of the building blocks of protein, branched chain amino acids (BCAAs), can be even more useful than taking just whey protein.
Nutrition scientists have known about BCAAs’ many benefits and its effectiveness for many years, so there’s nothing new here. But, when they began a study to compare how effective consuming only BCAAs was for athletes vs. only whey protein, they got some pretty amazing results suggesting that BCAAs are a lot more effective in comparison to whey protein when it comes to helping athletes reduce body fat levels, increase lean muscle mass and increase their strength.
Before you decide to dump your whey protein in the toilet, and buy BCAAs instead, let’s examine the study more closely and see what fitness professionals themselves do to come up with the best way to use both BCAAs and whey protein for maximal results.
BCAAs vs. Whey Protein
In order to properly understand the effectiveness of whey protein, we need to get a little scientific and look at the protein’s structure. Whey protein has a very high amount of specific amino acids, especially the following three: leucine, isoleucine, and valine, which are collectively called branched chain amino acids or BCAAs.
When nutrition scientists began researching more about BCAAs, they concluded that they are actually quite effective on their own and athletes could use them to not only experience many of the same benefits whey protein provides but get some additional benefits beyond what consuming whey protein only provides at certain doses. Now, let’s examine the aforementioned study.
Are BCAAs more effective than whey protein?
In this specific study, the scientists monitored body fat percentage, lean muscle mass and strength of three separate groups of trained individuals that trained once a week for eight weeks total. The groups were divided as follows:
1. 10 people who took 28 grams of whey protein
2. 10 people who took 14 grams of BCAAs
3. 10 people who took 28 grams of carbs from a sports drink
Even though the results of the study did show that the group who took BCAAs experienced the greatest amount of fat loss and increased their lean muscle and strength, it’s worth mentioning a few points here: 15 grams of BCAAs is too much.
When the majority of BCAA supplements recommend around 5 grams of BCAAs per serving, you’re looking at 3 servings of the majority of BCAA supplements. On the other hand, 30 grams of protein is approximately 1 protein serving. 30 grams of carbohydrates is also around 1 serving of an average sports drink.
This actually means that the study is comparing how effective taking 3 servings of BCAAs vs taking 1 serving of two other supplements, whey protein, and a sports drink. And considering that the majority of whey protein already have around 5 grams of protein per serving, if you took 3 whey protein servings you would also get around 15 grams of BCAAs and all other essential amino acids inside the whey protein which would most likely change the study’s outcome.
In the end, the study was made by a popular supplement company, which is a huge BCAAs supplements manufacturer and it should come as no surprise that they would want the study’s results to show how incredibly potent BCAAs are.
The conclusion: Both whey protein and BCAAs are amazing and extremely effective
The study above actually shows that both BCAAs and whey protein are very effective at helping individuals improve the composition of their bodies by increasing lean muscle mass, reducing body fat and make them stronger. The bottom line is that if you want to create a better-looking physique and lose fat in a safe and consistent manner over time, you should use both BCAAs and whey protein.
If you want to maximize their effectiveness, you should take the following into consideration: BCAAs will give you the most bang for your buck, pre, intra, and post-workout when the body needs the amino acids as an energy source while training and to repair the damaged muscle tissue after training. Always choose products which have more than 3 grams of BCAAs per serving. It is also a general recommendation that you take 1 serving of BCAAs pre-workout and 1 serving during workout.
Whey protein which already has high amount of BCAAs is great to be consumed pre and post-workout, but considering that even the purest, most filtered protein brands have around 100 calories in a serving, some people prefer that they save the protein for after the workout in the form of a protein shake or as a meal replacement. The general recommendation is that you take 1 serving of whey protein within the first hour post-workout and maybe adding another serving as a meal replacement or a snack during the day.
Making it all work
Whey protein and BCAAs are the two most effective supplements one can take to build more muscle, get leaner and recuperate faster. If you want to get maximal results, do the following on training days:
- Half an hour before training take one serving of BCAAs mixed with 7-12 oz. of water, and you could also eat a light snack with carbs in it like some fruits, oatmeal etc. Next, during training, take one serving of BCAAs mixed with 7-12 oz. of water, and after your workout take one serving of whey protein, mixed with 7-12 oz. of your favorite drink.
- The one-hour window after training is the perfect time to take carbs since it’ll help replenish the energy stores you burned and makes the protein more effective by getting it into the muscle cells more quickly. Go for 30-60 grams of carbs with your protein shakes to get maximal results. As a snack or a meal replacement you could take one serving of whey protein mixed with 7-12 oz of your favorite drink.