How Important Are BCAAs? - AnabolicMinds.com
    • How Important Are BCAAs?



      By Bob Kupniewski Athletic Xtreme

      BCAA’s also known as Branch Chain Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein found in free form. They are comprised of three different BCAA’s, which are Leucine, isoleucine, and valine. The difference about these BCAA’s is that they are not made by our bodies but found in the foods we eat and the supplements we can take to gather those BCAA’s. BCAA’s are found in any protein source that you do eat or utilized in any BCAA supplement (or bulk powder). What makes these so significant for bodybuilding or an average athlete and what benefits can come from these products? Well that is exactly what this article is all about. I will also go into detail about science and research being done on BCAA’s and the views of many out there on why they may be beneficial and why they may not be beneficial.

      Breaking down the chains
      Branch Chains first and foremost are not similar in free form compared to whole form like if you ate a chicken breast or had a whey protein shake. BCAA’s in free form are instantly digested. Meaning they are taken right into the blood stream with no digestion at all, this is why they are crucial at opportune times. The most important time to dose amino acids would be during your workout. Why? Because when you workout your body is constantly breaking down amino acids as you tear down your muscle. When your muscles are breaking down, how do you stop your body from going catabolic? Automatically restore those lost Amino’s with a BCAA product to keep the body in an anabolic state and slipping into a catabolic state. Hence why they are very important at this time. Another great time to use BCAA’s would be for fasted cardio or weight lifting (similar to above). Since the body has nothing in it and we are doing activities that can cause extensive breakdown of muscle BCAA’s would be very wisely utilized at these times.

      BioLayne Studies
      Now my last stance on why these are important is a different method of dosing Branch Chain Amino’s Acids. A very smart individual named Layne Norton who is a competing natural pro, studies Branch Chains for a living (and is a very strong power lifter) has put in quite a bit of research and has conducted a Muscle protein Synthesis study that shows how important these can be towards MPS (Muscle Protein Synthesis).

      The research
      In his research he had individuals dose Amino acids between further spaced out meals. The current dogma that is preached in bodybuilding is eating every 2-3 hours to speed up the metabolism and keep the body in an anabolic state just got overturned with Layne’s research. He showed that eating more times per day decreased muscle protein synthesis due to the fact that there are still present Amino’s in the bloodstream and the constant spiking of protein without letting it reach its refractory stages did not have greater muscle protein synthesis compared to eating every 4-6 hours and dosing at least 3g of leucine (found in BCAA products or bulk leucine powder) is all that is needed to maximize the anabolic response of a meal. For example lets look at certain foods, which would produce around the same amount of leucine. Beef and Pork weighed in around 5.5 oz, approximately 5 large eggs, a little over 1 scoop of whey protein (getting around 27-30g of protein), or 7oz of fish would also provide the optimal amount of leucine to be eaten at your meals that would be further spaced apart and the Branch Chain/Leucine dosage in between.

      BCAA dose timing
      Layne also showed with his research that leucine triggered mTOR signaling and MPS through refractory responses between meals (optimizing the amount of time necessary before spiking protein levels again). In other words that 3g of leucine you got in the above references to the protein source you chose may trigger MPS again in 4-6 hours and not in 3 hours like many bodybuilders preach. Muscles are still digesting that previous meal and protein can take several hours longer to digest than most people think. The last piece of information given in Layne’s research is that an additional 20-30g of carbohydrates taken between meals with 3g of leucine or a BCAA product can give a greater MPS response compared to dosing no carbohydrates alone. Not everyone will be able to do that given their overall carbohydrate intake, but that is some information to take into consideration if you do decide to give this a try in the future compared to your current meal frequency.

      Getting Anabolic
      A few other sources I researched that showed benefits for Amino Acids were the American Journal of Physiology reinstating what I have already preached about Amino’s and stating that they can convert the catabolic state of working out into an anabolic state with post-workout or intra-workout dosage of Branch Chain Amino Acid supplements. Keeping a positive net protein balance from a negative (catabolic) to positive state (anabolic). The athletes that were studied in the American Journal also showed how well they were able to utilize phenylalanine (the absence of which causes stunted growth, energy, or overall recovery from training) at a rate of 70% greater dosing a Branch Chain Amino Acid supplement. Again this is reinstating the point of the anabolic response given from Amino Acids during a very opportune time in training. Some of the first studies done on Branch Chain products were on endurance athletes or runners, which again showed drastic, increased in overall recovery from day to day activity.

      The Roundtable Research
      Now is there any conflicting research or thoughts on Branch Chain products? There was a Branch Chain Amino Acid roundtable with a few individuals that have written some incredible documents about nutrition and supplementation and they had to share their thoughts on their overall perspective.

      Martin Berkhan
      Martin Berkhan of Leangains.com who specialized in intermittent fasting (a different meal frequency pattern) stated that unless you are training fasted the use of BCAA’s will be gathered through whole foods alone granted you reach your protein levels for the day (at least 1-1.5g per pound of protein). He stated “there is no benefit showing excessive dosing of BCAA’s because of how glucogenic they can be which is just adding excess glucose in the bloodstream.” The only time Martin would recommend dosing BCAA’s would be prior to fasted training (as stated above in the article) dosing at least 10g prior to workouts, and then every 2 hours after their workout until their first meal is consumed.

      Alan Aragon
      Alan Aragon’s thoughts are that BCAA’s are not necessary unless you are consuming enough BCAA’s through whole food protein (which he is in agreement with Martin). Alan continued to preach in his roundtable discussion that many individual’s are not aware of how many BCAA’s they get in real foods especially animal proteins (chicken, beef, fish etc.). Given an individual is meeting 1-1.5g of protein per day and getting adequate BCAA’s he has seen no additional research that dosing more BCAA’s or BCAA supplements are necessary given that individual has adequate pre/post workout nutrition to fuel their body for anabolism after breaking down their bodies from a workout. Even using BCAA’s himself and on his clients he has tried adjusting those clients to a higher protein intake and has seen visual evidence of improved body composition and performance

      Lyle McDonald
      Last but not least a great writer named Lyle McDonald who has published multiple books regarding nutrition (such as The Protein Book, The stubborn Fat protocol, The Ultimate Diet, and many more) had a very generic stance on BCAA’s and that they do have benefits, but most individuals are already meeting BCAA requirements through whole food so increased usage may not be necessary. His stance is very similar to Alan Aragon’s. His statement off his website (bodyrecomposition.com) “In most studies BCAA’s had a benefit on recovery and triggering the anabolic state, but most of the studies done on BCAA’s involved inadequate protein intake to supply adequate BCAA levels through whole food.” Lyle also went on to say that BCAA’s may protect the immune system and athletes involved in very heavy training, as they should only be used in 10-20g amounts if those bodybuilders or athletes have their diets taken care of. Adding in a small additional amount will only be a safety blanket especially if the individual is dieting in a caloric deficit.

      With the research supporting both sides, and as Pubmed continues to pile out information regarding Branch Chain Amino Acids it is pretty clear that they do have benefits and they can also be a pricey investment given you match the standards above. My overall consensus on Branch Chains is that they should be viewed as a luxury. Supplements are exactly that, they supplement your diet and training as many of the individual above would agree. If you have money to spare on top of covering your basic supplements (whey, creatine, multi-vitamin, and fish-oils) then I would invest in a branch chain product to dose for my workouts. The benefits showed during resistance exercise/training is only going to help that individual in the long run. If you do have the money to dose as Layne Norton has showed in his MPS study then that would also be icing on the cake.

      Source: http://www.athleticx.net/articles/bc.../#.U-OIyfldVrM
      Comments 15 Comments
      1. fightnews's Avatar
        fightnews -
        Lol layne norton wishes he was natty
      1. wiseman's Avatar
        wiseman -
        Originally Posted by fightnews View Post
        Lol layne norton wishes he was natty
        ??? too true
      1. fightnews's Avatar
        fightnews -
      1. The Solution's Avatar
        The Solution -
        Originally Posted by fightnews View Post
        Lol layne norton wishes he was natty
        Thanks for reading, but is this truly necessary? Do you have any evidence he is not?
        His work ethic is second to none and if you saw where he came from to what he is now it shows you how much time/effort he puts into his training.
      1. fueledpassion's Avatar
        fueledpassion -
        Originally Posted by The Solution View Post

        Thanks for reading, but is this truly necessary? Do you have any evidence he is not?
        His work ethic is second to none and if you saw where he came from to what he is now it shows you how much time/effort he puts into his training.
        On that point of discussion, if u ARENT natty, extra BCAA's, or protein in general, becomes permissible and even necessary due to the increase MPS throughout the day.
      1. The Solution's Avatar
        The Solution -
        Originally Posted by fueledpassion View Post
        On that point of discussion, if u ARENT natty, extra BCAA's, or protein in general, becomes permissible and even necessary due to the increase MPS throughout the day.
        Extra BCAA's between meals spaced 4-6 hours apart would benefit you from a MPS Standpoint as pointed out in Layne's research.
        http://www.biolayne.com/wp-content/u...-Tech-2008.pdf
        http://www.biolayne.com/news/episode...ein-synthesis/
        http://www.slideshare.net/biolayne/o...nd-muscle-mass
      1. fueledpassion's Avatar
        fueledpassion -
        I agree here. More importantly, I think having an assortment of the 9 essential amino acids makes all the difference in MPS, with Leucine being the leader of the pack.
      1. fightnews's Avatar
        fightnews -
        How bout biotest mag 10 protein pulsing?
      1. fightnews's Avatar
        fightnews -
        so do natty bros who eat lots of protein even need extra bcaa or eaa?
      1. The Solution's Avatar
        The Solution -
        Originally Posted by fightnews View Post
        so do natty bros who eat lots of protein even need extra bcaa or eaa?
        Natty or not BCAA's will be best utilized as described above. (Post #7)
      1. ryanp81's Avatar
        ryanp81 -
        Good read, who gives a **** if Layne is or isn't on steroids. BCAA's as well EAA's kick ass.
      1. fightnews's Avatar
        fightnews -
        The wording in this article is a little hard to follow. So Layne "needlebutt" Norton says you should take bcaa between meals to respike mps from the meal you ate before? And eating every 2=3 hours is bad because it doesn't leave enough time for protein levels to go back to normal? Well then how does the bcaa help. Wouldn't they just do the same thing?
      1. The Solution's Avatar
        The Solution -
        Originally Posted by fightnews View Post
        The wording in this article is a little hard to follow. So Layne "needlebutt" Norton says you should take bcaa between meals to respike mps from the meal you ate before? And eating every 2=3 hours is bad because it doesn't leave enough time for protein levels to go back to normal? Well then how does the bcaa help. Wouldn't they just do the same thing?
        I see you just rather bash someone who research this for a living than rather read the article and understand the advice given and outlined for you in the article.
        The reasoning is allowing protein levels to full reach their refractory stages before being spiked again by a larger bolus of whole food or whey at a given meal.
      1. fightnews's Avatar
        fightnews -
        I'm sorry but this paragraph is all over the place


        He showed that eating more times per day decreased muscle protein synthesis due to the fact that there are still present Amino’s in the bloodstream and the constant spiking of protein without letting it reach its refractory stages did not have greater muscle protein synthesis compared to eating every 4-6 hours and dosing at least 3g of leucine (found in BCAA products or bulk leucine powder) is all that is needed to maximize the anabolic response of a meal.
        For example lets look at certain foods, which would produce around the same amount of leucine. Beef and Pork weighed in around 5.5 oz, approximately 5 large eggs, a little over 1 scoop of whey protein (getting around 27-30g of protein), or 7oz of fish would also provide the optimal amount of leucine to be eaten at your meals that would be further spaced apart and the Branch Chain/Leucine dosage in between.
      1. fightnews's Avatar
        fightnews -
        Originally Posted by fightnews View Post
        I'm sorry but this paragraph is all over the place


        He showed that eating more times per day decreased muscle protein synthesis due to the fact that there are still present Amino’s in the bloodstream and the constant spiking of protein without letting it reach its refractory stages did not have greater muscle protein synthesis compared to eating every 4-6 hours and dosing at least 3g of leucine (found in BCAA products or bulk leucine powder) is all that is needed to maximize the anabolic response of a meal.
        For example lets look at certain foods, which would produce around the same amount of leucine. Beef and Pork weighed in around 5.5 oz, approximately 5 large eggs, a little over 1 scoop of whey protein (getting around 27-30g of protein), or 7oz of fish would also provide the optimal amount of leucine to be eaten at your meals that would be further spaced apart and the Branch Chain/Leucine dosage in between.
        try reading it without the parentheses

        this is all 1 sentence?

        He showed that eating more times per day decreased muscle protein synthesis due to the fact that there are still present Amino’s in the bloodstream and the constant spiking of protein without letting it reach its refractory stages did not have greater muscle protein synthesis compared to eating every 4-6 hours and dosing at least 3g of leucine is all that is needed to maximize the anabolic response of a meal.

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