View Full Version : BCAA's and strength training.

Clifford Gillmore
05-13-2009, 03:47 PM
I'd love to hear what you guys think of them, say a product with L-Glutamine, L-Leucine and L-Isoleucine. Is it worth the money? Do they even have and effect?

I'm posting here simply because of the PL views, and you guys are really damn clued in :)


Tom Mutaffis
05-13-2009, 03:57 PM
Are you talking about Scivation?

Clifford Gillmore
05-13-2009, 04:04 PM
I've never heard of Scivation, I did google it and just came with a supplement company. I'm referring to something like this;


I buy whole sale from another company that stocks all of BSC's line, I was just kind of curious to see if was even worth the effort.

05-13-2009, 04:25 PM
I've seen quite a bit of stuff that says supplementing with BCAAs isn't any better than simply consuming a decent protein source, such as whey, beef, etc.

Although they may seem promising....

In a very real fashion, the BCAA are muscle food and there has been huge interest in BCAA, especially among the weight lifting subculture, and for seemingly good reason.

Itís been known for years that the BCAA themselves can specifically turn on protein synthesis in skeletal muscle and, more recently, itís been found that this effect is specific to the amino acid leucine (which works through a molecular receptor called mTOR).

but a lot of studies that tout BCAAs are flawed:

As an example, one study that is being cited currently compared either a small amount of protein (~13 grams per hour) with carbs to a small amount of protein with an absurd amount of leucine (the same 13 grams of protein with an additional 6 grams of leucine) taken post-workout. Not only did the leucine only have a tiny effect, whatís not mentioned about this study is that the drinks were given for 6 hours after training which is hardly relevant to a single post-workout drink. As well, 13 grams of protein is far below whatís optimal post-workout; had sufficient protein been given in the first place, I doubt the extra leucine would have done anything.

As another example, one of the classic studies cited to support BCAA around training was an Italian study that compared the impact of BCAA to NOTHING on strength improvements. Of course the BCAA was superior because consuming something around training is going to be better than consuming nothing around training. But what if they had compared it to whey protein during training? Or whey plus carbohydrates (my recommendation). Would the BCAA still have been superior? I doubt it.

It comes down to eating ENOUGH protein in the first place:

There is the additional fact that even if you stimulate protein synthesis with BCAA or leucine specifically, it wonít matter if there arenít sufficient amounts of the other aminos present. You can turn on protein synthesis all you want with BCAA or leucine, without the other building blocks for skeletal muscle, it wonít make any difference. There is also the simple fact that the primary stimulus for increased muscle in the body is training, not protein. Most Americans eat tons of protein and get lots of BCAA, they arenít growing muscle because they arenít training and giving the body a stimulus to store the extra protein.

You can turn on all the protein synthesis that you want with dietary modifications, as it turns out the body simply breaks down more protein later in the day to compensate. Unless someone is training, muscle mass simply doesnít increase due to these kinds of dietary manipulations.

Finally is the issue I talked about in What are good sources of protein? - Amino Acid Quality Part 2: all high quality proteins contain lots of the BCAA in the first place, ranging from 15-25% depending on the source (most sources are around 15%, casein comes in around 20% and whey can range from 23-25% BCAA). Of that BCAA, a fairly large chunk is leucine.

A bodybuilder consuming say 250 grams of protein (e.g. 1.5 grams per pound at around 170 pounds) will be getting, somewhere between 40-50 grams of BCAA depending on the sources. Someone consuming a lot of whey or casein will get a bit more, someone living on nothing but meat will get slightly less. But someone eating that much protein is already getting a lot of leucine in their diet, at each meal; throwing in another gram or two is not going to do much.

The same holds for BCAA as a whole; I just see it as unlikely that, unless someone adds a truly absurd amount, itís going to matter in the context of the already large amount of BCAA coming in. And, as noted above, unfortunately the studies donít really answer that question; they all look at BCAA supplementation under conditions of what I consider inadequate protein in the first place.

Link (http://www.bodyrecomposition.com/nutrition/what-are-good-sources-of-protein-amino-acid-profile-part-3.html)

FWIW I've never tried BCAA supps.

Eric Downey
05-13-2009, 05:01 PM
i take bcaa's everyday training or not.

05-13-2009, 06:27 PM
Are you talking about Scivation?
he just means branch chain amino acids a few companys makes them even universal nutrition etcs.
ive heard efa are even better but i havent used either so this is the best of help i could be for you lols.

05-13-2009, 09:35 PM
I took Xtend from Scivation for a long time and I think it helped me quite a bit. I know not of the science but it worked for me.

05-13-2009, 09:45 PM
[QUOTE=Brad08;2140168]I've seen quite a bit of stuff that says supplementing with BCAAs isn't any better than simply consuming a decent protein source, such as whey, beef, etc.

beef is full of aminos and it depends but most good powders have plenty also. i just like to over do everything so i'll take it all LOL

05-13-2009, 09:48 PM
Ive never gotten the BCAA's thing. Look at the back of your protein container and see the amount of BCAAs in there. Its like having a vitamin C pill after you ate 6 oranges :D

bcaas are super important, no denying that.. but the cost of specific bcaas is insane when you consider how cheap a good powder is.

05-13-2009, 10:31 PM
For what this is worth, I understand that one benefit of BCAA is that taking 10g is like consuming 20g of whey or full chain proteins..

The simple benefit I found was that I could get protein in a little easier at times as the BCAA's can be flavored and added to water to drink as a light beverage, as well as add quality protein to different concoctions without messing with flavor or making the drink heavy... for example I mix powder gatorade, beta alanine, creatine mono, leucine and 5 - 10 gs of BCAA's together and it's basically a suped up gatorade tasting drink to me...

Hope this helps... thoughts on this are welcome too, as I'm always happy to learn!

NOTE: I'm not sure on the science of the 2:1 thing but that's is how I've understood it!

05-14-2009, 06:47 AM
I'd love to hear what you guys think of them, say a product with L-Glutamine, L-Leucine and L-Isoleucine. Is it worth the money? Do they even have and effect?

I'm posting here simply because of the PL views, and you guys are really damn clued in :)


A good name brand whey protein powder already have glutamine, luecine and isoleucine. In other words, all essential(BCAA,etc) and nonessential amino acids. So, I don't buy BCAA(leucine, isoleucine & valine) or glutamine. Just have protein shake in the morning, before your workout, after your workout and before you go to bed. 3-4 servings will provide you with plenty of essential and nonessential amino acids.

05-14-2009, 08:09 AM
My wife recently had rotator cuff surgery. I asked her doc if taking a BCAA sup might help her recovery. He said, "It certainly wouldn't hurt". Being that she probably does not eat enough protein in her diet, I bought some BCAA (2200's from ON) to have her try. The pills are so big she refused to take them. I'm just now finishing the bottle, but have noticed no difference in lifting, recovery or anything else. As said before, if you get enough protein, no need for extra BCAA's.

Kenny Croxdale
05-14-2009, 09:18 AM
I'd love to hear what you guys think of them, say a product with L-Glutamine, L-Leucine and L-Isoleucine. Is it worth the money? Do they even have and effect?

I'm posting here simply because of the PL views, and you guys are really damn clued in :)



I question if glutamine is worth the investment. I side more with David Barr's assessment of glutamine, Destroying The Dogma. http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_supplements/glutamine_destroying_the_dogma_part_2

With that said, you have others like Dr John Ivy who promote glutamine. Ivy's is definitely an authority in the field.

There is some interesting research Leucine, one of the Branch Chain Amino Acids. Leucine appears to be the real work horse of the BCAA group.

Here's a couple of artices on Leucine.

"Leucineís Effects and Interaction with Insulin and Muscle Growth" http://www.abcbodybuilding.com/leucine2.pdf

"Combined ingestion of protein and free leucine with carbohydrate increases postexercise muscle protein synthesis in vivo in male subjects" http://ajpendo.physiology.org/cgi/content/abstract/288/4/E645

On a personal note, I've added Leucine to my post pre, during and post workout beverage. I feel like the addition of Leucine has allowed me to recovery faster.

Kenny Croxdale

Tom Mutaffis
05-14-2009, 09:49 AM
As always Kenny's information is very good. Many people have stopped supplementing with glutamine because of the cost:benefit ratio. For someone who is not taking in enough protein it may have some benefits but that does not classify the majority of us on this board.

There is some buzz lately about Leucine. In fact I have seen a couple of PWO products that are based around 10-15 gram servings of Leucine, although there is some confilicting information in the studies. You run into the "absolute total" again where 10 grams of Leucine may be superior to 10 grams of other amino acids when it comes to recovery, but a 40 gram protein shake in many cases is still superior simply because of quantity.

Risk - Here are the nutritional facts for Scivation Xtend, which is a BCAA/Glutamin product (this is one of the few products that I know of with this combination which is why I thought the thread was directed toward this particular supplement):

Amount Per Serving / % Daily Value
Vitamin B6(as Pyridoxine HCL) 10mg / 500%
L-Leucine 3.5g / Ü
L-Glutamine 2.5g / Ü
L-Isoleucine 1.8g / Ü
L-Valine 1.8g / Ü
Citrulline Malate 1g / Ü

I tried the product and can say that it does taste quite good, but the servings per container is a bit misleading. The recommendation is for 4-6+ scoops per day depending on your bodyweight. This means that the $25-30 container will only last you between 5-7 days, making it not very cost effective for long term use. It did seem effective in helping me to recover, but not any more effective than simply drinking 2 protein shakes per day.

My thoughts on BCAA drinks are that they are good when you are going to go an extended period without eating, or if you plan on doing some type of endurance training. I like them for strongman workouts where I may be training for 2-3 hours or for days when I am at the office and know that I will only get in 1-2 solid meals. I guess the best way to define it would be something to "bridge the gap".

Lones Green
05-14-2009, 01:08 PM
I've taken both glutamine and BCAA's, and noticed no difference in my strength levels.

05-14-2009, 04:22 PM
Met rx bcaa's cheap and good

Clifford Gillmore
05-14-2009, 04:38 PM
Thanks very much for your input everyone! Very useful information as always.

Thanks a heap for links too Kenny, some light bedtime reading is always good :)

chris mason
05-14-2009, 04:46 PM
If you consume supplemental protein in the form of protein powder then there is no need for additional BCAAs most of the time.

Leucine is an amino acid that has been demonstrated to stimulate protein synthesis (by itself) much in the same way as a whole meal. With that said, you get leucine in protein powder and in most foods. A protein supplement with additional leucine would be a good value as you could theoretically use less and get the same results.

08-26-2009, 12:46 PM
Hey guys. I'm a new poster here, and i did read all the rules and such. i just wanted to add my two cents real quick. I've personally never noticed the benefits of strength training or bulking with BCAA's. I have however noticed an increase in muscle hardness and how much weight i lose during a cut. It seems i get to keep some more mass when i'm cutting all my calories out and surviving off of protien shakes and chicken breast. I read about the ability of BCAA's to help me keep what i gained in my bulk during a cutting cycle.

I'm now finishing up my cutting cycle (started with dren, which is total crap, now i'm on albuterol and about to stop and do 2 weeks of benedryl) and you can see my results there in my profile pic. that was taken last week.

I'm not working off any proof here, but i'm just saying i went with BCAA's during a cut because of what i read. Whether or not this was the cause of me keeping my mass and gaining some muscle hardness, i dunno...

Jeff Roark
08-26-2009, 06:26 PM
one additional benefit from taking BCAAs or EAAs before training is that they are light on the stomach. This allows you to take them right before you start training, during training, and after.

Not sure how much difference its really going to make if your protein levels have been adequate throughout the day. It takes a little longer to digest and assimulate protein than what many realize, especially if taken in meat form. It was stated that 6gms of EAAs provided an anabolic response for up to 8hr if I remember correctly. So do you need them? if you have eaten properly probably not. Are they going to hurt anything? Absolutely not.

08-28-2009, 10:02 AM
I find my recovery is improved while supplementing with them intra workout, but I also tend to believe they're redundant if your diet contained enough protein. It would be valuable to have a clinical study where the subjects weren't in a fasted state.