Note: The article analyzes the role of BCAAs in bodybuilding. We are well aware that BCAAs are used for many medical conditions, but in this particular case we are going to focus solely on the muscle building aspect.
BCAA a.k.a. Branched-chain amino acid represent a great interest for the supplement industry. In a nutshell BCAAs are part of the nine essential amino acids and have side-chains with a branch. There are three BCAAs: – leucine; – isoleucine; – valine;
The fitness industry seems to really love BCAA and the main reason for that is the fact that BCAAs are amino acids highly responsible for muscle growth which the body cannot produce by itself and needs to receive from food sources. This is great and similar statement does wonders to convince the public that you need to buy extra BCAA. After all you want to make sure that you get your essential amino acids. Right, boy?
While there is no doubt that BCAAs are helpful, they are not some magical beans that are going to turn you into the muscle men advertising them. Another very important fact the supplement industry omits is that BCAA are basically contained in what one would consider ‘regular‘ foods such as meat, cheese, eggs…etc.
80-100 grams of meat, fish or 1/2 cup of cottage cheese contain about 1.7 grams of leucine, 1 gram of isoleucine and 1 gram of valine. Truth be told if you are eating high protein foods, you don’t need to buy BCAA supplements. They not only taste horrible but are also very expensive and require one to consume a large dose. Why would you do that, if you are already supplying your body with plenty of BCAAs from all the protein contained in a typical bodybuilding diet? Not to mention the fact that most supplement addicts are already taking whey protein which also contains BCAAs.
The fitness industry is pretty smart. They try to isolate everything that supposedly builds muscle mass and sell it. If they could they would be selling you each amino acid separately. That way you would be buying 10 different supplements and making the supplement dealers even richer.
What were men doing prior to BCAAs?
Believe it or not bodybuilding would be absolutely the same if BCAA supplements were to disappear right now. This is how much of an impact they had on the muscle game – zero. Professional bodybuilders don’t rely on BCAAs to build their powerful physiques. If anything, professionals laugh at BCAAs.
When BCAAs first came out in the 1980s people were mad excited. However, several researches were made and there was no evidence that BCAAs help improve sport performance. What a surprise, isn’t it?
On top of everything there aren’t researches showing that you need BCAA supplements, if you are already covering your protein needs with regular food. Surprising, isn’t it? Who would need such a survey?
Here’s a very interesting, yet never to be done, study on BCAA:
Organize three groups of people at similar age.
Group 1 – exercising without any supplements – just food.
Group 2 – exercising with whey protein as supplementation.
Group 3 – exercising with BCAA as supplementation.
All groups must do the same exercises, follow the same rep ranges and train the same number of days per week.
If the research shows that those with BCAA supplementation do much better than those without, we would be the first on the way to the supplement store. Unfortunately, but as expected, we were unable to find similar research. Could this be because the supplement companies would never benefit from such a thing and prefer to either hide it or prevent it?
The supplement companies always present carefully prepared information while often omitting important details from the studies. As a result the crowd gets all of this too good to be true supplements that are supposed to turn you into the guys in the ads who are most of the time on steroids, and their images are edited with Photoshop.
BCAAs are required for muscle growth but most people don’t need to take them in supplementation form unless there’s a serious physical condition preventing one from eating solid food. Truth be told, most BCAA buyers are depressed teenagers and adults looking for that ‘boom’ growth factor.
The money always comes from the noobs. Why? Because they are uninformed, have cash to spend and plenty of motivation and enthusiasm to use as fuel towards the abyss.