I started using BCAAs in high amounts in 1994 after meeting with one of brightest in exercise physiology and medicine, Mauro DiPasquale M.D. His contention was that if money was an issue, supplements during workouts were most important. I still believe after playing with them for 17 years that still holds true.
2010 provided us with a lot of additional research validating the use of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) and why. Let’s take a look…or if you don’t have the time, just read MY TAKEAWAYS from each study.
1) In April of 2010, the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) reported in a study on rats that “peak activation of muscle protein synthesis and associated initiation factors is proportional to the leucine (LEU) content of a meal.” They also noted lower bodyfat and a much higher percentage of energy being partitioned to lean tissue.
MY TAKEAWAY: LEUCINE SUPPORTS MUSCLE GROWTH AND FAT LOSS.
2) Also in April, researchers Sharp and Pearson at the College of Charleston, South Carolina conducted a double-blind placebo controlled trial that used total-body resistance training consisting of 8 exercises using 3 sets of 6-8 reps each, with the treatment group getting BCAAs and the control getting a placebo. The findings showed that the BCAA group has significantly higher testosterone and significantly lower creatine kinase and cortisol resulting in what the researchers called a “net anabolic hormonal profile.”
MY TAKEAWAY: USING BCAAs RESULTS IN HIGHER TESTOSTERONE AND LOWER CORTISOL. Gains in strength are more correlated to the testosterone/cortisol ratio than the total amount of testosterone.
3) In May and June of 2010, two separate studies looked at the effects of BCAAs and muscle soreness after weight training. The study in May was conducted by the Exercise and Metabolism Research Group at the University of Birmingham in the UK. Jackman et al used a divided dose approach giving the subjects BCAAs or a placebo ½ hour before exercise, 1 ½ hours after exercise, between lunch and dinner and again before bed. The exercise consisted of 12 sets of 10 eccentric repetitions at 120% of 1RM. The researchers noted a significant decrease in muscle soreness in the BCAA group at both 48 hours and 72 hours following exercise.
MY TAKEAWAY: BCAAs CAN BE DOSED THROUGHOUT THE DAY TO REDUCE MUSCLE SORENESS FROM TRAINING.
4) In June, the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism published research from Nagoya University in Japan in a study entitled “Branched-chain amino acid supplementation before squat exercise and delayed-onset muscle soreness,” where the exercise consisted of squats for 7 sets of 20 reps with 3 minute rest intervals—my kind of researchers. The subjects were either given a placebo or 100mg/kg of BCAAs (about 9 grams for a 200lb person) in a double-blind crossover design. In this trial, the researchers noted a significant decrease in DOMS (soreness) and muscle damage when taking BCAAs.
MY TAKEAWAY: BCAAs GIVEN PREWORKOUT CAN REDUCE MUSCLE SORENESS AND MUSCLE DEGRADATION.
5) In November, Swedish researchers published their work in Acta Physiologica in which they examined the impact of BCAA supplementation on key muscle growth pathways, mTOR and p70. In this double-blind study, they described the results of resistance training and BCAAs as having “separate and combined effects.” In fact, BCAA supplementation seemed to be the key to increasing the p70 pathway. This study duplicated similar work these researchers showed in 2004 and 2006 using BCAAs during and after exercise.
MY TAKEWAY: IF YOU’RE NOT TAKING BCAAs AS PART OF YOUR TRAINING PROTOCOL, YOU’RE LEAVING A LOT OF MUSCLE GROWTH ON THE TABLE.
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