BCAA’s Are Not Necessarily A Wonder Powder
BCAA’s, Branched-Chain Amino Acids are growing at a rapid rate within mainstream health and fitness consumers. These supplements were once only popular with bodybuilders. But now ‘normal’ people are forking out thousands to get their hands on them.
The main reason for their popularity is everybody’s new love for hardcore workouts like high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and Bootcamp. Sports performance supplements are actually more popular amongst ordinary folk.
And it is now a thriving multi-million dollar industry.
BCAA’s Might Be A Fitness Industry Dupe
Every fitness athlete has their ripped physique because they make use of these supplements. Right?
Not necessarily. That’s what marketers and supplementation companies want you to think. In fact, many studies have found no inherent link between BCAA intake and fitness performance or muscle growth. Therefore, you might want to think twice before you whip out another buck.
BCAA supplements consist of three of the nine essential amino acids. These amino acids include; leucine, isoleucine and valine. The wonderful amino acids make up around 35 per cent of the essential amino acids in muscle proteins.
She adds that for us to get the nine essential amino acids, we need to include more protein sources in our diets. The other non-essential amino acids are taken care of because our bodies can make them. BCAA’s break down in muscle, whereas the other essential amino acids break down mainly in the liver.
So, is it just a fitness dupe? Well, they might help those who want to maintain or increase muscle mass. However, many experts remain sceptical.
Why Are People Taking BCAA Supplements?
The debate arises when you look at the facts. For example, if you can get these essential amino acids from protein, then wouldn’t it make sense to just consume more protein?
Instead of wasting your hard earned money on a ‘wonder powder’ that the guy on the other side of the sale gets to pocket.
Yet the ‘strong not skinny’ movement continues to motivate people to buy into the business. They think the BCAA’s will help them achieve a lean and muscular physique like the ones displayed on Instagram.
I believe this is also part of the problem, You see, many fitness influencers are being paid or have sponsorship deals with supplement brands.
Max Lowery, personal trainer and former competitive sprinter talks to Business Insider about BCAA supplements, He says BCAA’s are getting attention because they can apparently increase muscle protein synthesis (MPS). However, Lowery explains that MPS is the rebuilding of muscle tissue which occurs as a result of stresses on the body. It can be any kind of stress like an injury or exercise.
He adds that although many fitness influencers promote BCAA’s all over social media, he won’t.
Mainly because when he experimented with them while sprinting, he saw no effect on performance or recovery.
Besides, BCAA powders don’t always only contain the essentials. Many of them are used as a water mix and contain artificial sweeteners, flavourings, and colourings. Plus they look really synthetic! Lastly, there are studies to prove that you need complete forms of protein, which include BCAA’s to create muscle growth and repair.
So, what does it come down to? Once again, just eat real food! Fill your diet with whole, unprocessed foods, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
What’s The Verdict?
Before I reach a conclusion…
There are also some high-profile trainers and athletes who claim that they enjoy using BCAA’s whilst training in a fasted state. However, personal trainer Lowery, argues that taking BCAAs before a workout means you’re not technically training fasted.
People have the wrong perception. BCAAs actually create an insulin response which, by definition, takes you out of the fasted state.
In addition, research has found that BCAA’s have also been given to people with Anorexia to try and increase appetite, which might hinder your fitness results even more.
Therefore, it might be best to save your money and spend it on more fruitful purchases. Rather than wasting thousands on buying and eating components of nutrients isolated into a powder. And thinking it’s going to change your body composition or performance. Focus on improving your overall diet and training regime.
A magic powder does not exist. But, a routine with an intention can. That will be the difference you need for change. The only time I would recommend BCCAA supplementation, is if you cannot get in enough quality protein and still need to train.