BCAAs Maintain Muscle While Dieting
If you missed the last Supplement Showdown regarding the use of BCAAs, whey protein, and muscle protein synthesis, click the video below to catch up!
In sum, both BCAAs and whey protein both stimulate protein synthesis, but whey protein results in greater muscle protein synthesis that whey protein due to its complete spectrum of essential amino acids. Does this mean that BCAAs are completely worthless? I will present the research but if you are in your offseason, you’re probably not going to need as many BCAAs. However, if you’re dieting, that’s a different story.
BCAAs are found in skeletal muscle, where they act as both structural elements and play regulatory roles in muscle protein synthesis, particularly during exercise. If you are dieting and in a caloric deficit, then this is where BCAAs may be the most beneficial for fitness competitors. BCAAs can be broken down and used as an energy source during times of calorie restriction. Several studies have reported the effectiveness of a BCAA supplementation for increasing protein synthesis, suppressing protein breakdown, decreasing cortisol, and reducing post-exercise soreness. During caloric restriction is when there is the greatest chance for a person to lose muscle.
The BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) increase lean muscle mass by stimulating muscle regeneration by suppressing post-exercise muscle tissue breakdown; therefore, leading to greater gains in lean mass. An athlete can train longer, and at a higher intensity, which can result in an increase in lean muscle mass with the use of BCAAs taken before and after exercise.
An interesting study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition titled, “In a single-blind, matched group design: branched-chain amino acid supplementation and resistance training maintains lean body mass during a caloric restricted diet,” reported that BCAA supplementation during dieting resulted in the maintenance of lean muscle mass.
Subjects were dieting and consumed seven grams of BCAA before and after each workout for a total of 14g BCAA. The other group consumed a carbohydrate-based supplement of equal calories. At the end of eight weeks, the BCAA group maintained lean muscle mass despite dieting, while continuing to lose a significant amount of fat. The carbohydrate group lost lean muscle mass. The data suggests that while dieting, those who participate in heavy resistance training can maintain lean mass and muscular performance by utilizing a BCAA product pre- and post-workout.
Dudgeon WD, Kelley EP, Scheett TP. In a single-blind, matched group design: branched-chain amino acid supplementation and resistance training maintains lean body mass during a caloric restricted diet. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2016 Jan 5;13:1. doi: 10.1186/s12970-015-0112-9. eCollection 2016.