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Do You Need To Take Amino Acids?

As our six-week partner nutrition challenge winds down and our Barbell Club heats up, I have been getting more questions about supplements. One of the most common questions is about how to continue to build muscle while reducing fat. What do I need to do with my nutrition to accomplish that?

If I eat more protein, then am I going to stop or slow my fat loss? If I don't eat enough protein, will I add the strength I'm looking for? Is there something else I can do?

The answer is it is always better to get your nutrients from whole foods instead of powders, pills or other supplements.

However, there are some supplements that can be beneficial in helping you meet your nutrition goals and still improve your strength and performance.

Specifically Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs). What do BCAAs do for you?

Our friends at Driven Nutrition provide this explanation:

BCAA’s Increase Muscle Protein Synthesis (mTOR) We lift weights and train to build bigger stronger muscles, duh, but exactly how does the building process work? Resistance training triggers protein synthesis, a signal that tells our body to use proteins to construct new muscle tissue. Supplementing with BCAA’s during and after resistance training can increase the protein synthesis signaling, meaning more muscle growth! Even without resistance training BCAA’s can aid in the preservation of lean tissue and help prevent fat gain! Which brings us to reason number 2…

BCAA’s Increase Fat Burning and Metabolism  BCAA’s are made up of three amino acids, Leucine, Iso-leucine, and valine. Iso-leucine in particular, along with enzymes is used to breakdown glucose and fatty acids to be used as energy in the body. This increased energy outflow and fat oxidation allows for a more forgiving metabolism, especially when it comes to carbohydrates. BCAA’s are a great supplement for keeping muscle while staying lean.

BCAA’s Improve Strength and Endurance Performance We all know that a protein-rich diet is ideal for packing on lean muscle tissue; however, a diet rich in protein can be boosted with the supplementation of BCAA’s particularly Leucine. Leucine increases muscle protein synthesis, thus allowing for more of the proteins you ingest to be used to build new muscle and add more strength. Because BCAA’s increase the efficiency of fat and glucose being burned as energy having them present in the bloodstream via a dietary source can lead to greater endurance. BCAA’s also slow the uptake of tryptophan to the brain, reducing the feeling of exertion or tiredness brought about by high-intensity training. Basically you slow your brain's way of telling you “I’m exhausted, time to slow down”.

BCAA’s Decrease Soreness Experienced from High-Intensity Training  Did you hear that? Less soreness! If you have been unconvinced so far this should begin to sway you. BCAA’s ability to prevent muscle breakdown and aid in the rebuilding process of skeletal muscles means you experience less post-workout soreness. This allows you to train with more intensity, more frequently!

When looking at BCAA supplements remember not all are created equal. Look for a product with at least 2 grams of Leucine and one that has Leucine making up at least 40 percent of the total content. Commonly a ratio of 2:1:1 (Leucine:Isoleucine: Valine) is found. Learn more about Driven’s Amino.