BCAAs WILL NOT MAKE YOU BIGGER
It’s 2018, the truth is out about branched-chain amino acids (BCAA). If anyone is pushing BCAAs to you (there’s hundreds of these “fitness pros” doing exactly that on social media), they are mental midgets and you should just go ahead and click that unfollow button on their page. They obviously care more about money than actually helping you achieve your goals or being truthful and trustworthy.
Truth is, if you eat protein, your blood has plenty of BCAAs. If you’re worried about your BCAA level going down while exercising, simply eat protein rich food 2-3 hours prior to your workout. If you don’t have the time just consume a fast absorbing protein, such as whey, an hour prior to exercise.
Supplementation of branched chain amino acids alone cannot support an increased rate of muscle protein synthesis. Researcher Robert R. Wolfe of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences concluded that ingestion of BCAAs leucine, valine, and isoleucine had limited effect on building muscle. Wolfe stated, "The few studies in human subjects have reported decreases, rather than increases, and muscle protein synthesis after intake of BCAAs.”
This is because BCAAs compete not only among themselves, but also with other amino acids for absorption. Therefore supplementing all three branched chain amino acids will undoubtedly limit the transport rate of amino acids into cells.
BCAA SLOWS THE RATE OF MUSCLE PROTEIN SYNTHESIS
In the 1990s, two human trials were conducted in which the subjects were given BCAAs intravenously. Widespread claims of increased rate of muscle protein synthesis were found to be false and that BCAAs, in fact, decreased the rate of protein synthesis and rate of muscle protein turnover.
The researchers found that infusing BCAAs did the opposite of the widespread claims. The infused BCAAs not only failed to increase the rate of muscle protein synthesis, but rather reduced the rate of muscle protein synthesis and the rate of muscle protein turnover.
Wolfe wrote, “While the infusion of BCAAs is not the conventional manner in which a dietary supplement would be consumed, intravenously infused and orally ingested amino acids have been shown to elicit comparable effects on muscle protein synthesis.”
USEFUL FOR MUSCLE SORENESS, NOT MUSCLE BUILDING
According to Jose Antonio, CEO of the international Society of Sports Nutrition, "BCAAs still play a role in reducing muscle soreness, there are instances where consuming whole protein just won't be convenient, for example, long training rides on a bike."
Studies have shown that there was less muscle damage and a faster recovery of muscle function in subjects given BCAAs vs those given placebo. Leading Antonio to conclude, "BCAAs should not be marketed as muscle building supplement, but something to take intra workout to reduce soreness."
THE TAKE AWAY
Due to these recent studies, Dr. Susan Kleiner, a Sports Nutrition formulation expert, says it’s important “to let clients know that BCAA supplementation may decrease their muscle protein synthesis and turnover, making them certainly not helpful, and possibly harmful, to their goals."
To repeat, BCAAs are more likely to hurt not help your goals of muscle building. Considering the billions of dollars earned by the sales and marketing of BCAAs for the prupose of muscle building, this may be one of the largest scams in the supplement world for the last decade.