BCAAs: Are They Worth It?

August 26, 2015 by in category Blog tagged as , , , , , with 0 and 0
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BCAAs have become a popular supplement in the fitness community. In this article, I will describe the benefits of BCAAs and tell you if supplementing with them is recommended.
First things first, what are BCAAs?
“The three amino acids Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine are referred to as Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) as they are the only three amino acids to possess a branched side chain; they are all essential amino acids,[4] and collectively form the largest pool of essential amino acids in the bodily pool (35–40%) and are present in high levels (14–18%) in muscle tissue.” [1]

To put it simply, BCAAs are found in protein and are heavily used in the regulation of muscle mass. BCAAs have beeen found in some studies to increase glycogen preservation (the stuff that makes your muscles full and keeps you energized), reduced fatigued, and increased time until exhaustion.
With this in mind, you’re probably assuming that I am going to tell you that supplementing with BCAAs is a very good option. However, I am not. Here’s why:
1. The average lifter gets enough BCAAs without supplementation.
BCAAs are found in normal protein sources. So when you consume any source of protein, you are getting BCAAs. As long as you are consuming .75 to 1g per pound of bodyweight in protein, you will have plenty of BCAAs. If you take any protein powder, it usually has BCCAs mixed in them as well.
2. The anti-fatigue effects have only been shown to be beneficial to absolute, untrained beginners.
The noted additional benefits that could potentially come from supplementing with BCAAs have only been shown to be effected for absolute beginners. If you have any experience with physical training, your body has adjusted to be able to handle the fatigue of lifting.
3. The benefits would only be minor in the scheme of things.
Even the benefits that have been shown for beginners have only been shown to have minor impact in research studies.

Additional Comments
• Most people who I see taking supplements are sponsored athletes who probably get the supplement for free.
• I hear many people say they like BCAAs so they can have something sweet to drink while lifting. You can save a whole lot of money by just buying some Mio or Crystal Light water enhancers.
• There are some very great athletes who take BCAAs and say that it has great long term effects. It probably does, and that would explain why there isn’t much science behind it since you can’t really test long term effects of newer supplements. Like most supplements, it is a luxury, not a necessity. If you have been convinced that BCAAs help you and you have the money, go on ahead and grab it. For me, it is not worth the cost.

Final Verdict: Supplementation is not needed. Minor benefits may be found in supplementation, but not without thinning your wallet.


 

References

[1] http://examine.com/supplements/Branched+Chain+Amino+Acids/

 


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