Have You Got Branch Chain Amino Acids In Your Stack?

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Branch Chain Amino Acids are a highly popular sporting supplement. Go anywhere online and you’ll see mention of them being used in and around competitors, athletes and general gym goers. But why are they using them? What do they do? Are they really worth the cost? 

Proteins are a macronutrient. This means they are needed in large amounts by the body for a large array of functions. Amino Acids are the building blocks in which protein are comprised of. There are 20 different types of Amino Acids and distributed into either they are Essential or Non-Essential. Or more easily understood is that there are some the body can make and some the body can’t make.

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Out of these Essential Amino Acids (EAA’s) there are three Amino Acids in particular that have been claimed to be of utmost importance for recovery and muscle gain. These are Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine, and they are commonly referred to as Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s). These have been shown to be required for the body in stimulating Muscle Protein Synthesis or the way our body stimulates itself to grow.  

Well, according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN) and their latest stand on protein (1), BCAA’s may, in fact, be an over utilised and poor choice for Essential Amino Acid consumption. In fact, if there was a hierarchy of priority when it came to determining where these should sit on your shopping list, then the order would be

  • Whole foods (lean meats and low-fat dairy)

  • Protein Supplementation

  • EAA

  • BCAA

That’s right, the very bottom.

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There are those that would benefit from BCAA’s. Smaller females, competition athletes, or those that train and eat like one and those focused on getting the absolute maximum out of their body. All of those conditions require an individualised approach to making sure that you’re getting the most out of your nutrition, because of the restricted nutritional intakes, that both smaller females or recreational prep and competitions athletes can have across stages of their career.

We know that these 3 amino acids are important for stimulating Muscle Protein Synthesis. But the duration of this stimulus, the availability of amino acids and the energy status of a person will all dictate how much of a response this gives.

When comparing BCAA’s to EAA and complete protein sources found in supplementation and mixed meals, BCAA’s have been shown to have a smaller result in stimulating MPS.

Instead of thinking how you can utilise BCAA’s in your diet, instead focus on increasing the number of times that you consume complete protein sources in your day, in an amount that maximally stimulates MPS (approx. 25g of complete protein). Whilst coupling this with weight training to get the greatest net result of MPS to get the best bang for your buck.



Diet Smart. Not Hard.

Coach Dalton



Sources:

(1) International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise