So today’s question’s from VJ. VJ would like to know, why I don’t let him use BCAAs – that just stands for Branch Chain Amino Acids.
Okay, so first of all, what are Branch Chain Amino Acids? I’ve got some right here – a little sample packet. So this is powder. Branch Chain Amino Acids – I’m going to say BCAAs from now on, because it’s quite a long word – are the building blocks of protein. And BCAAs actually have three amino acids that are put together in a powder format, and they’re just very fast acting proteins.
So you’ve got leucine, isaleucine and valine. And the combination of those three cause something called protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is something that is happening in your body all the time. If you imagine that your protein synthesis is always happening at a very low level in your body. When you have the presence of something like protein, or Branch Chain Amino Acids, especially when it’s got something like leucine in it, which is the amino acid which is going to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, we’ll get this MPS spike, and that’s just when your muscles start to recover.
Now Branch Chain Amino Acids essentially aren’t superior to normal protein sources, and that’s why I don’t let VJ, who’s actually one of my clients, bother with them. Because they’re a waste of money and you can get a MPS response perfectly well from decent types of natural proteins like chicken, or beef, or turkey. All these things have a high amount of leucine in, and leucine is that main amino acid which is going to stimulate that muscle protein synthesis.
And that’s why, things like Branch Chain Amino Acids just aren’t necessary. The other problem with using BCAAs is that you only get a chance to really maximally stimulate MPS about four times a day. So if you really just have four meals a day and each meal has a serving of 30 grams or more protein in it, it’s likely that that protein will have enough leucin in there naturally, without using BCAAs to stimulate a MPS response.
So the problem arises when we use things like BCAAs in between meals. Now traditionally, that’s quite a bodybuilder thing to do, just in case your arms fall off, because you’re not getting enough protein in. Using BCAAs inbetween meals is a bad idea because what you really want to do is have four maximal MPS responses per day and using BCAAs between your meals is actually going to down-regulate the responsiveness of each one of those meals.
The other problem is that BCAAs only have three amino acids. And what you get is an MPS response, but it’s a very short drop-off, it’s a very short response. And when you have a protein that has an abundance of amino acids, like chicken, beef, obviously they’re made up of a lot more amino acids, so whilst you still get the same spike as you would for a BCAAs, the drop-off is much, much, much slower with real food, so you might as well just use real food. It is superior to supplements, which are literally there to supplement your diet.
And in this case, I just don’t see any use for BCAAs, unless of course you might be a vegetarian, in which case, trying to get enough leucine in your diet might be an issue, so if you wanted to use a plant-based protein, or some kind of plant-based meal that has plant-sources of protein in it to bolster that meal, you might then take BCAAs afterwards. That would ensure you maximise your MPS response, because that might be difficult not having good sources of leucine in your diet.
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