BCAA (Branch Chained Amino Acids) is a very popular supplement, among the gym-goers. Companies sell this claiming it to increases muscle building (muscle protein synthesis), better recovery & better performance.
Muscle protein is composed of 20 different amino acids, of which 9 are essential Amino Acids (i.e body cannot synthesise it by itself and need to be supplied through the food). 3 of these essential amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, valine) are of branched-chain (their molecular structure). All 20 amino acids are required to make muscle protein and BCAA supplement gives just 3 of them. Besides, if you are already eating enough amount of protein through wholesome food (meat, eggs, pulses, paneer, soy, etc), then you are already getting all of these 20 amino acids. Hence supplementing it with BCAA is a waste of money! And if your protein intake is not proper, then the right thing to do is to get that sorted through wholesome food instead of having BCAA. However, whey protein is always a good option for its convenience.
Another common notion is that BCAA supplements are calorie-free. Supplement companies often claim 0 calories in the BCAA packaging, through a loophole in the FDA regulations. The FDA regulations for dietary supplements state, “protein shall not be declared on labels of products that contain only individual amino acids”. Since BCAA supplement is not an intact protein, the product claims to contains no calorie from protein. This claim is not physiologically right; the three branched-chain amino acids, leucine, in particular, are in fact the most energy-dense of the amino acids and provide more than 500 calories per 100 grams, more than sugar or any intact protein!
In fact, the biggest bummer for you is that recent research reports say that BCAA actually reduces muscle protein synthesis and can actually hurt your gains.
Published : [email protected] - 02/26/2020
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