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I have always heard so many great things about BCAAs.  It seems like every trainer or IG model is in love with BCAAs because they push them so hard.  Ever wonder why? BCAAs typically have the largest profit margin of all supplements!  Protein powder and other basics don't make the companies their big bucks, its the supplements with proprietary blends and niche markets that rake in the $.  BCAAs are very cheap to produce, generally giving a 70% profit margin compared to whey protein generally giving 5-10% profit after manufacturing costs. I was using BCAAs religiously until a comment from my Cell & Molecular Biology teacher made me do some research of my own.  My professor claimed that synthetic BCAAs cannot be properly absorbed and utilized by the body unless they were in the form of a complete protein.  Years later, many more studies have come out assessing the effectiveness of BCAA supplementation and it turns out he was onto something!  Not only do our bodies have a hard time utilizing BCAAs when they arent from a complete protein, but they can actually cause insulin resistance, leading to an accumulation of stubborn fat! Not quite what the IG models have been telling you huh? Here are some facts.

 

  • Valine can cause insulin resistance, leading to weight gain.

  • Isoleucine & Valine consumed together post workout reduce protein synthesis.

  • Glutamine is a leucine antagonist, negating one of the most important anabolic triggers (Leucine & the mTOR Pathway)

 

Instead of BCAAs during your workouts try something like Accelerade.  This drink is refreshing and provides electrolytes along with crucial carbohydrates for maintaining your pump as well as a small amount of protein at a 4:1 carb:protein ratio proving in studies to increase endurance.  The two potential exceptions to consuming BCAAs are Leucine and HMB.  When consumed immediately POST workout leucine can trigger the mTOR muscle building pathway leading to increased growth.  HMB has had mixed reviews but a few recent studies have shown promise with consuming HMB post workout especially alongside creatine supplementation. 

 

Remember, you obviously need BCAAs for muscle synthesis.  However, if you use a complete protein source like whey or hemp hearts then you will get all of the BCAAs you need in a form your body can properly utilize. Make sure your protein doesn't have any BS added to it either.  Glutamine was a big fad for a bit so many "gainers" have it added in on top (not good).  Best bet is Grass Fed 100% Whey Protein Isolate.

 

 

Bottom line, DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY ON BCAA SUPPLEMENTS!

At best they are useless and don't even get absorbed, at worst they cause insulin resistance and can block a crucial anabolic pathway. 

 

 

 

The TRUTH about BCAAs

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