Whey Protein is Better than BCAAs When it Comes to Muscle Gains

Looking to maximize your gains? Go all the whey.

In the latest study published in the Frontiers in Physiology, researchers proved that whey protein stimulated muscle protein synthesis better than BCAAs. Does this mean that BCAAs are completely worthless? No! BCAAs can be an essential supplement to use during intense training, but it should not be used as a replacement for a high-quality whey protein drink. BCAAs do stimulate muscle protein synthesis, but just not as well as whey protein. The study was revolutionary because most scientists thought that BCAAs were all that was needed for maximally stimulating muscle protein synthesis. However, the study found that BCAA drinks stimulate muscle protein synthesis, but they lack essential amino acids that are necessary to support a maximal muscle growth response. Remember, whey complete contains a full spectrum of essential amino acids needed for maximal protein synthesis.

The study had weightlifters consume 5.6 grams of BCAAs or a placebo after exercise. This dose of BCAAs is equivalent to 20 grams of whey protein following resistance training. At the end of the study, the researchers found that the BCAA supplement did stimulate protein synthesis, but the effect was much less than a standard dose of whey protein. BCAAs alone increased muscle protein synthesis by 22 percent compared with a placebo. The magnitude of this increased muscle protein synthesis was ~50 percent less than the previously reported dose of whey protein. This means consuming a BCAA supplement post-exercise is not as effective as taking a whey protein shake post-exercise for maximal muscle gains.

The lead researcher, Dr. Kevin Tipton was quoted as saying, “Our results show that the common practice of taking BCAA supplements in isolation will stimulate muscle protein synthesis — the metabolic mechanism that leads to muscle growth — but the total response will not be maximal because BCAA supplements do not provide other amino acids essential for the best response. A sufficient amount of the full complement of amino acids is necessary for maximum muscle building, following exercise. Athletes interested in enhancing muscle growth with training should not rely on these BCAA supplements alone.”

If you are looking to maximize protein synthesis rates after exercise, be sure to take a high-quality protein drink such as Protein Rush. Protein Rush contains a combination of fast and slow acting proteins for a sustained release of muscle building amino acids that lasts several hours.

Jackman SR, Witard OC, Philp A, Wallis GA, Baar K, Tipton KD. Branched-Chain Amino Acid Ingestion Stimulates Muscle Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following Resistance Exercise in Humans. Front Physiol. 2017 Jun 7;8:390.

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