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BCAA Muscle NotesLearn about BCAA supplements, which increase muscle growth. BCAA supplements may not be necessary.
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BCAA powder. As a beginning bodybuilder, I put powder into everything. It was awful. I thought I needed a magic potion to build muscle.

I was wrong. I spent money on BCAAs, branched-chain amino acids. It did me little good. My transformation into the huge muscle man I am today was mostly through lifting and eating.

Effective. BCAAs help build muscle mass in bodybuilders—and all athletes. It is proven effective. BCAA supplements are known to increase protein synthesis and muscle gain.

Important Whey protein already contains BCAA supplements. Separate pills are rarely needed.

Muscle. This study compares one group of untrained men. These men were given BCAA supplementation. The experiment lasted for 30 days, around one month.

Dosage The dosage of BCAA was high, at 14 grams per day. This makes the effects more noticeable.

Quote We conclude that the physical fitness of BCAA treated subjects was improved, because of the decrease of [oxygen] uptake during [sustained hand-grip test]. In our subjects, BCAA seemed to promote [fat-free mass]-protein synthesis mostly.

Effects of branched-chain amino acids

A review. The study found that BCAA supplementation increased fat-free mass (muscle mass) by 0.8 kg (1.76 pounds). Grip strength also improved in these men.

Hand Strength

Note This study did not involve training the men using weight lifting. They were untrained.

Pounds The men gained on average 1-2 pounds of muscle by simply taking the BCAA supplement. They became stronger in the upper body.

Protein BCAA administration increased the level of protein synthesis, leading to an increase in muscle mass.

Soreness. Scientific research has also found that BCAA supplements have an effect on muscle soreness. But it is unclear whether the supplements actually impact muscle functionality.

Instead BCAA supplements might just change certain laboratory results. Science is hard.

Quote The main point is that BCAA supplementation may decrease some biochemical markers related with muscle soreness but this does not necessarily reflect on muscle functionality.

Potential therapeutic effects of BCAA

An interpretation. This study tends to reduce the necessity of BCAA supplements. It appears likely that BCAA supplements look worthwhile in certain laboratory blood tests.

But The benefits are not reflected in real athletes. So I would not count on any actual benefit here.

Problems. Sometimes a supplement that has positive effects also has negative ones. One study I found speculates that BCAAs could lead to a motor neuron disease.

Caution This is ALS—a condition similar to what Stephen Hawking has. ALS leads to complete paralysis and death.

Quote BCAAs have been suggested to be the cause of a high incidence of ALS among professional American football players and Italian soccer players.

Stronger is not always better

A warning. It is all speculation. The rate of concussions in American football players is proven to lead to brain damage and dementia. BCAAs meanwhile are just a speculative cause.

Quote The present work shows that BCAAs can induce a hyperexcitability similar to the one observed in G93A mice, but they did not show if a BCAA-enriched diet, given to mice over a prolonged period, induces ALS-like symptoms (Stronger is not always better).

Risks. We should be aware no supplement is without potential risks. BCAAs are thought to be healthy, but too many of them could lead to later problems, even if your muscles get really big.

Not needed? BCAA supplementation has been shown to be effective in some trials. This means weight lifters should consider BCAA supplements in some form.

However Please notice that some whey protein supplements also have BCAA added to them.

Tip It may be best to simply get your BCAA from the whey powder and protein shakes. The benefit shown in this study was not huge.

Liver problems. NASH is a common liver disease caused by being excessively heavy. Fat builds up in the liver and it no longer works as well. It is currently hard to treat it.

And Fatty liver (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis) is extremely common. BCAA has been researched as a potential treatment.

Result BCAA (and whey protein) appears to help with NASH. This is another reason to consider using BCAA.

Quote We conclude that in the absence of an effective conventional therapy for NASH-related liver cirrhosis, BCAA supplementation should be considered as an alternative treatment.

Amino acids, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis

Story. When I first began bodybuilding, I seemed to think that more powders and potions I consumed, the bigger my muscles would become. This did not work.

And The BCAA powder I drank, mixed in water, had little benefit. I was not eating enough strong proteins like eggs.

Eggs

Over the years I have found that lifting heavy and saving your money (not wasting it) is the way to go. Don't obsess over BCAA powders.

A summary. BCAA supplementation does have some objective benefit to muscle size and strength, even if you are not lifting weights.

Benefits and risks. The benefit of BCAAs is not large enough to make it a focus of your supplementation. Whey protein already contains BCAAs. This is probably enough.

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