Today I'm going to share a tip with you that will save you some money (feel free to donate it to me). BCAAs or branched chain amino acids are one of the most popular supplements in the fitness industry. This is due to the fact that people believe their muscles will eat themselves without them. This is in fact not the case. Let me explain why.
What They Do
They are nothing more than three essential amino acids named Leucine, Valine, and Isoleucine. They are essential because your body can't produce them on their own and are obtained through diet. Of the three Leucine is what made them gain popularity for it's role in muscle protein synthesis. Here's what they do:
- Leucine: Promotes muscle protein synthesis by activating the enzyme mTOR.
- Isoleucine: Promotes hemoglobin synthesis and regulates blood sugar levels.
- Valine: Helps prevent the breakdown of muscle by supplying muscles with an extra glucose.
BCAAs blew up in the fitness scene mainly because of Leucine and it's role in muscle protein synthesis. One study found that consumption of Leucine increased protein synthesis. So people thought that consuming more would lead to more muscle growth. While it is true that it will signal more muscle growth, any amount of Leucine past 2-3g won't do you any good, that is when it's benefits peak.
Where Can I Get Some Of That Leucine?
- 150g of chicken breast contains 6.6g of BCAAs and 2.9g
- 150g of salmon contains 6g of BCAAs and 2.7g
- 1 egg contains 1.3g of BCAAs and .5g of leucine (who only eats one egg though)
- 25g of whey protein contains 5g of BCAAs and 3g
- 1 Cup of White Beans contains 1.3g
- 1 Cup roasted soybeans contains 3g
- 1 Cup green beans contains .1g
- 100g quinoa contains .25g
What About Training Fasted?
Most people I know who take BCAAs do so because they train first thing in the morning. The logic follows like so:
- In the morning liver glycogen levels are low, your muscles use glycogen for energy
- Your body will convert amino acids into glucose to fuel itself
- If there are no amino acids the body will break down muscle protein and convert it to amino acids which are then converted to glucose
Thankfully your muscles can store glycogen as well and these levels are not drained at night. You will have ample supply of energy in your muscles ready to be used. So just make sure to consume 20-30g of protein post workout to refill what was lost.
Do I Need It?
Unless you're burning 1000 calories in your morning workouts then I would say no. If you are on a no meat or low meat diet I would look into it. You may still be getting plenty from your sources of protein. In any case, your diet should supply enough BCAAs to last you.
If you workout early in the morning, and you don't eat much the night before, and you have a pretty intense workout ahead of you. Then I would say go for it. It may not be necessary but it definitely won't hurt you. Much like a multivitamin, if you have the money and aren't sure if you are getting enough from diet it won't harm you at all. It's your life though! If you want to take them feel free.