Muscle Talk - By International Protein

Do BCAA's Really Work?

April 21, 2021 International Protein Season 3 Episode 14
Muscle Talk - By International Protein
Do BCAA's Really Work?
Chapters
Muscle Talk - By International Protein
Do BCAA's Really Work?
Apr 21, 2021 Season 3 Episode 14
International Protein

In this episode, we discuss if Branch Chain Amino Acids really work? 
We answer a bunch of questions such as when to take BCAA's and what are the side effects? 
Do you need BCAA's if you're already taking protein or do BCAA's break a fast?

  • Muscle energy during training
  • Whey or BCAA's?
  • Side effects?
  • BCAA's and fasting


If you want your own questions answered on our podcast, then join our private Facebook group and share your ideas,  https://www.facebook.com/groups/muscletalk

If you'd like to learn more about International Protein, visit https://www.international-protein.com/






------------------------------------------------------
A Thinkroom production - www.thinkroom.com

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we discuss if Branch Chain Amino Acids really work? 
We answer a bunch of questions such as when to take BCAA's and what are the side effects? 
Do you need BCAA's if you're already taking protein or do BCAA's break a fast?

  • Muscle energy during training
  • Whey or BCAA's?
  • Side effects?
  • BCAA's and fasting


If you want your own questions answered on our podcast, then join our private Facebook group and share your ideas,  https://www.facebook.com/groups/muscletalk

If you'd like to learn more about International Protein, visit https://www.international-protein.com/






------------------------------------------------------
A Thinkroom production - www.thinkroom.com

Ash Horton:
... Welcome to Muscle Talk, where you'll get world champion advice about nutrition and stacking on muscle. Our host, Christine Envall, she's a three-time world champion bodybuilder, an IFBB professional, a food scientist and a founding co-owner of our podcast sponsor, International Protein.

Ash Horton:
In this episode, we discuss if branched-chain amino acids really work. We answer a bunch of questions, such as when to take BCAAs, what are the side effects? Do you need BCAAs if you're already taking protein? And do BCAAs break a fast? Okay, Christine, so if we continue on with our theme, of looking at what people are searching on Google and coming up with those questions, today, the question is, do BCAAs really work?

Christine Envall:
Good question. Depends what you are using them for. That whole topic or that whole concept of, does something work, always throws me off a little bit, because it's like saying, "Does your chicken work?" I don't know, what do you mean, how does it work? What are you using the branch-chains for? Is obviously going to be my question, to say whether yes, it works, are you using it for the right thing?

Christine Envall:
What I see branch-chains for is muscle energy during training. Yes, they can be used for recovery after a workout and studies show that they do help to increase the rate of muscle synthesis over not having them. But, it's not as good as having all of the essential amino acids, which comes, obviously, either in an essential amino acid product, like our Complete Aminos, like International Protein's Complete Aminos, or in a whey protein isolate, or other full, complete protein source.

Christine Envall:
So, yes, they do work. Not as good as other things, but they do work there. But, really, the primary role in sports nutrition or where I would use a branch-chain amino acid is, it's the predominant amino acids that are used during your actual workout. As you train, you use some glycogen, you might use some fats and you'll use some protein. The majority of the protein that's used is coming from those three amino acids. Your leucine, your isoleucine and your valine, which is your branch-chains.

Christine Envall:
In that respect, yes, they will work, because they will spare your own muscle tissue and you'll utilize what's floating around in your blood, if you're using it during a workout. But, if you have some other concept of what you might be wanting to use those for, can you use them to totally just grow all muscle? No, you need all of the essential aminos for that. You've got to put that in context. Did that answer your question?

Ash Horton:
Yes. It wasn't my question. It was the world's question.

Christine Envall:
Oh, sorry, yeah. The world's question. Google's question.

Ash Horton:
I guess that leads into, possibly, the next one. Should you take BCAAs every day? The answer to that is probably no, because you're saying use it during the workout.

Christine Envall:
Yeah, that's right. You don't really need to take them if you're not doing a training session. You're going to get enough of what you need, enough of your amino acids coming in from your food naturally. It's probably not going to have any extra benefit from taking them on days when you're not requiring extra branch-chains, i.e., non-training days.

Christine Envall:
Yes, you can have them. It's not going to harm you, but if you're trying to save money or if you don't have an unlimited budget and you want to be just taking specifically what you need, then you don't really need to take them.

Ash Horton:
Okay. BCAAs, do they burn belly fat?

Christine Envall:
No.

Ash Horton:
Because this is a question that people ask. It's the third question.

Christine Envall:
I did see that. No. Obviously, a negative calorie position, so eating less than what you're burning, is going to help burn belly fat. You can't specifically go in there and target burning belly fat. It's normally, actually, the last thing that goes on a lot of people. You're going to burn the fat off your legs, fat off your arms.

Christine Envall:
Everyone has a different place, but branch-chains haven't really been shown to have any impact on any kind of fat burning, extra fat burning. It's not like carnitine, which assists with getting the fat into the mitochondria for burning. It doesn't do anything like that. If you're looking to use a BCAA as a weight-loss supplement, no. That's not going to work.

Ash Horton:
Are BCAAs a waste of money?

Christine Envall:
No. As I said, it depends what you're using them for. If you're-

Ash Horton:
Trying to burn belly fat? Yes.

Christine Envall:
Yes. Absolutely, yes.

Ash Horton:
Hangover cure?

Christine Envall:
Yes.

Ash Horton:
Waste of money.

Christine Envall:
Waste of money. Yeah, exactly what comes back to that first question, when people say, does something work, what are you using for? Yes, can be a waste of money in that instance, on a non-training day when you don't need it. Yes, can be a waste of money if you're just using it to flavor your water? Not a waste of money, but you could probably use other things, but generally, they're normally sugar-free, because normally they're coming as a sports supplement, so they're not using sugar with them.

Christine Envall:
It's basically like a great-tasting cordial with some extra branch-chains, which aren't going to harm you from having those in your system. Yeah, it really depends on the context there. I would say, for me, personally, it would also depend what else is in with the mixture, because a lot of branch-chains maybe have an electrolyte with it. So, you're having a secondary purpose, rather than just as a branch-chain on its own, or maybe you could-

Ash Horton:
So, then, it might not be the worst thing for a hangover cure?

Christine Envall:
May not be. Or, it might just be a way of getting you to drink more water.

Ash Horton:
Possibly.

Christine Envall:
In which case, great for a hangover cure, because you do need to rehydrate. That's what I'm saying, it really depends on what you're using it for. It's something that I know I do use, just to flavor water a little bit, because it tastes pretty good. It's not going to harm me, having some extra branch-chains floating around in my system. I do the same thing with the carni shot, just a little bit of extra carnitine. Don't absolutely need it at every minute of the day, but, hey, it tastes good and it's very low calorie.

Ash Horton:
Do BCAAs make you gain weight?

Christine Envall:
Oh, that's that million-dollar question of, on their own no, unless you're taking so many of them that you've added 2 or 300 extra calories to your diet. Then, yes, maybe they will. As I said, studies do show that if, compared to nothing, if you have your branch-chains after you work out, yes, they will help you to synthesize more muscle, but they aren't the best thing that you can use.

Christine Envall:
It's kind of better than nothing, but not as good as all the essentials, but it still works, to a degree. You still will get muscle synthesis. So yes, they can help you gain weight, but if you're not in a calorie excess or using a training program to grow muscle, then no.

Ash Horton:
Okay.

Christine Envall:
You know there's no absolute answers. It's always, "But if this, but if that."

Ash Horton:
Do I need BCAAs if I take protein?

Christine Envall:
Again, yes and no. Again, because of the when you're using them, if you're using them as a training fuel, it's potentially a better option than having a milky protein powder that you're like, nobody wants to drink a protein during their workout. It's just the wrong thing, it's not going to make you feel good. You potentially get a cramp in your stomach or something.

Christine Envall:
Do you want to take branch-chains? Yes, potentially, because it's a nice, light, it's providing what you need into your system at that point in time. Yes, you can also have all of the essential amino acids during your training. You can do either, just to confuse you a little bit. If you want to have one product, I would actually go with a complete amino acid-type product that has all of the essential amino acids, because I can use it during and I can use it post.

Christine Envall:
But, if you want to get down to specific products, one for during your workout, one for after workout, then have those two different products. But, I think branch-chains, in a way, got superseded by all of the complete, full-complement, essential amino acid products that have come out onto the market. But, some people do just like to use them during that training, because it's light, it's cordial-like, it's refreshing, helps with hydration.

Christine Envall:
As I said, it depends what else is in the formulation, because you might have some extra electrolytes in there, which again, none of these things are going to be in a protein powder, but then, they aren't necessarily sold in that type of product. But, a lot of the products on the market did actually include other things in with them, to help with exercise performance.

Christine Envall:
It's the product as a whole that became better. But, if you're just taking purely those three branch-chains, it's not essential, it can be good. Again, if your overall diet is taken care of, you're getting enough protein, then no, you don't need to take them.

Christine Envall:
What I do suggest people do, though, is you try it out, you try it on for yourself. Feel if it makes a difference, because some people, having that little bit of flavored water, which has your branch-chains in them, does make them feel more energetic. Does make them feel more recovered. Does make them feel more hydrated. Gives them a better workout.

Christine Envall:
Other people, they eat their food either side of the workout and they don't think that they need to have that. They prefer to drink water during a training session. It's one of those things where I always say, "Give it a go. If you don't like it, don't do it. Don't continue to do it. Try it out, try it out for yourself."

Ash Horton:
Okay. So, you've probably answered this question already, what? You've given us the same answer over and over again, but, which is better, whey or BCAAs?

Christine Envall:
Whey. I mean, and again, this is for if we're talking about for muscle growth-

Ash Horton:
To win, right?

Christine Envall:
Yeah. All these things are loaded questions, because they're out of context. We talked about just exactly before, if it's during a workout, then BCAAs are better, because I don't want to be drinking, and probably most people don't want to be drinking a milky drink during their workout.

Christine Envall:
There are some fruity-flavored whey protein isolates around and they possibly will be quite satisfactory. To do that, again, I come back to an International Proteins Complete Aminos, which is all of the essential aminos and the form that they're in, so they're in a peptide form, as opposed to free-form amino acids.

Christine Envall:
Obviously, a whey protein isn't a whole protein form. Whilst it's very, very quickly digested, it does still take that digestion to break it down and absorb it. So, you don't want to be using that during a workout, because you're going to draw the blood to your stomach and not into your muscle. That's where cramps and stitches and those kinds of things happen.

Christine Envall:
Believe it or not, the peptides which are slightly bigger molecule than a single amino acid actually absorb much more rapidly than what the single ones do. So, they're actually better to use during your workout as well, because it takes zero blood flow coming into the stomach.

Christine Envall:
The single freeform amino are still quick, but not as quick as what the peptide form are. So, if you have a choice, I would still go and choose a product which is coming from peptide form with all of the essential amino acids, if I had a choice out of a branch-chain product and that product. But, if you're just comparing whey and branch-chains, then after you work out, your whey's better and during your work out, your branch-chains are better.

Ash Horton:
Cool. Do BCAAs have any side effects?

Christine Envall:
Not that I'm aware of. I haven't seen anything to do with gastrointestinal upset. I haven't seen anything to do with pimples or anything. I haven't seen anything, as far as side effects, so, no. Yeah. Again, somebody maybe has an issue with a product, because it has something else in it, depending on what the flavor is or the sweetener or something like that. But, the branch-chains themselves, I'm not aware of anyone who's, and I mean, again, someone may have had an issue and I would love if someone did give us that feedback, but I haven't heard of any side effects of branch-chains.

Ash Horton:
They can give us feedback on our Muscle Talk Facebook page.

Christine Envall:
That is correct. I would actually be interested if anyone does have any experience that they've had, where maybe they have had indigestion. Often, but again, it can be, how have you taken them? Did you use enough water? Did you try to dry-scoop them? Because I would imagine that would probably make you choke.

Ash Horton:
Do you know what? It doesn't matter what product you're talking about. It doesn't have to be BCAA-related. If you're having questions or side effects or anything like that, throw it up there, because we've got Christine to answer.

Christine Envall:
That's right.

Ash Horton:
So, join the community. The next one is, is it safe to take amino acids every day? That's almost repeating what we were saying before.

Christine Envall:
It is, but I want to reinforce, I guess, that protein that you take is made up of amino acids. So, in effect, you are taking amino acids every day and you have to take amino acids every day, because they are essential to life. You can live without the other nutrients. You can live without your carbohydrates, your fats, just not your essential fats, obviously they're essential for a reason, but you'd need very, very small amounts of them.

Christine Envall:
But, do you need to take freeform amino acids? No, you don't need to, but it's absolutely safe, because your essentially just adding to your protein pool. It's not like it's a foreign material that's outside of what you're normally eating. I guess it's been isolated out of a food and it's in a freeform, but it's not going to give you any problem. Again, do make sure you drink adequate water when you're having extra amino acids, because they do require the water, not that they need to be broken down, but they still need to be processed through your body.

Ash Horton:
Do BCAA has give you energy?

Christine Envall:
During training? Yes. I call them amino energies, as you know. That's kind of how I describe or differentiate between all of your essential amino acids in your branch-chains. People say, "Why would I have two different products?" Essentially, whilst you can use all your essential amino acids during your training, I associate them more with recovery and the muscle growth. Having everything that you need to synthesize new muscle.

Christine Envall:
The branch-chains, I associate with being what I call your muscle fuel or your muscle energy. So, when you're working out and your body is still using a certain amount of amino acids, it is going to draw them from somewhere. It's going to draw them either from muscle or what's in your bloodstream. It's predominantly the branch-chains, which provide that type. It's not every amino acid that the body uses. It's specifically those. They are a source of energy during workout.

Christine Envall:
Yes, they do provide energy. That's the main thing that people do give us feedback around, using these types of products, is that they feel more energy. They actually feel like, after the workout, they don't feel as fatigued by using these products. They are providing a certain amount of energy. But, again, it's got to be in context of how much you're using, because you might only be taking 20 calories worth of energy.

Christine Envall:
It's not going to be giving you caffeine-type energy, where you have that super-hyped-up feeling of energy, or it's not like having a 200-calorie meal. Keeping context that you are still only having a certain amount of calories, so it can only give that amount of energy in the strictest sense of what it's providing your body, but, what it gives you in terms of a feeling, can be quite different.

Ash Horton:
Okay. "When should I take the BCAAs when cutting?"

Christine Envall:
Same as when you're not cutting. During your workout. That's the most effective time to take them. As I said, you can take them afterwards, but, as I said, I would preferentially take a complete essential amino acids product that has all of the essential amino acids that you need to recover. I would preferentially take that after my training, but some people maybe could still take that during a cutting phase. Post-workout and during workout, to help with their recovery, but not go to the extent of having the whey protein, because of the calories.

Christine Envall:
It's all about the calories really, when you're trying to cut and you're trying to minimize your calorie intake for your bang for your buck, when it comes to your recovery. You can use that, again, if you just wanted to take one product, I would prefer to do an essential amino acid product, but if you're stuck on branch-chains, you like your branch-chains and you want to use that particular product, then you can use it before, sorry, during and after your workout. And your cardio as well.

Ash Horton:
I've got a couple of questions, just from me, as opposed to from the world of Google. I think I heard you say, at one point, that, even if you're fasting, it's good to have some complete aminos or something, before going and surfing or doing whatever. Cardio, for example. So, is that correct?

Christine Envall:
Yeah.

Ash Horton:
Still holds the fast, or is it just such a small amount of calories it doesn't really matter?

Christine Envall:
The fasting, it's an interesting thing, because to me, it's not a solid food. It is still like a very, very-low calorie. It's a component of a food, it's not the complete complement, because it may or may not have all of the amino acids of a food. But, with a fast, and I mean, this is something that I'm kind of dabbling into, looking at the reasons behind fasting. It's more, to me, about the carbohydrate metabolism.

Christine Envall:
Obviously, the fats come into it as well, but taking in a small amount of branch-chain amino acids, or a small amount of your essential amino acids before doing some type of activity, or just before or during, really, to me, is all about, the body. It takes it out of the system and uses it immediately. It's not going through any kind of storage process. You're not going through any kind of digestive process.

Christine Envall:
You're not bringing into play all of those things that you would be doing if you were eating a solid food. Which is part of the reason of fasting, is you want to rest those systems. Again, purists would probably say differently, but me, personally, think that having a peptide amino acid product or a freeform amino acid product as insurance that I don't break down my muscle before I go into a cardio.

Christine Envall:
When I say training, I mean, can be weight training, can be CrossFit, can be cardio. Can be any type of training/physical exercise, activity, work, that requires you to use your physical muscles and cardio system and everything. Then, I would say that that's the same thing, you use it during that period of time. I don't see that as breaking the fast, because it's not bringing into play the digestive system. It's not bringing into play all the cascade of things that happen when you start to eat food and metabolize.

Christine Envall:
Insulin's not coming into play and things like that. So, I don't see that as breaking the fast and again, purists may say different, but in terms of the effect of fasting and what it brings, I definitely don't think that having those amino acids before a workout is impacting that timeframe. So say, for example, eating from, let's say 8:00 AM till 5:00 PM, or 6:00 PM. Eating in that period of time, but having the branch-chains or essential amino acids at 4:00 AM, before doing the workout, I feel like I'm getting the benefit out of only eating through that period of time, because the digestive process is still resting. If that makes sense, but I would not go into my workout without having some type of amino acids in my system.

Ash Horton:
Okay. That was the best question of the lot, wasn't it?

Christine Envall:
It was, Ash.

Ash Horton:
It was.

Christine Envall:
Yep.

Ash Horton:
I did well. Actually, the next question is probably a dumb question, but can you explain, in detail, the difference between a BCAAs product and a product with all the essential aminos in it?

Christine Envall:
Okay. It's a subgroup. The branch-chains are a subgroup of the essential amino acids. So, I always forget them, there's nine essential amino acids. Three of those are the branch-chains. That's the main difference, I guess, is that one's like you have a subgroup of a bigger group and your body needs all of those nine essential amino acids to properly repair muscle. Create anything that the body actually needs.

Christine Envall:
The rest of those amino acids, because it's like 20, your body can actually produce those itself, from those nine essential ones. But, the three aren't going to do all of that. So, in terms of a product, obviously one with the essentials is going to contain the other six essential amino acids. In our product, for example, we have those coming in from a peptide form, which means that there are little short chains, like two, three molecules of different amino acids. Which get into the body quicker in a most, or actually all branch-chain, amino acid products, it's just freeform amino acids. But, either product can have a multitude of other things in it.

Christine Envall:
Again, it depends on the product on the market, but they can have electrolytes, some may have carbohydrates, some may not have carbohydrates. Some might have other performance things. Some may be with creatine, some may be with glutamine. It depends on the product, but I guess the main difference is that the branch-chain product is a subgroup of the essential amino acids and it only contains those amino acids.

Christine Envall:
It doesn't have the other ones and the essential amino acid products have all the ones that your body needs. Some are only in free form, obviously International Protein's product has the peptide form, plus extra free from branch-chain amino acids and glutamine in with that.

Ash Horton:
And International Protein's product is, what? Complete Aminos?

Christine Envall:
Complete Aminos. The name Complete, obviously, because it has the complete complement of essential amino acids.

Ash Horton:
Cool. You don't provide a product that's just the BCAAs?

Christine Envall:
No. We did use to have the two-to-one-to-one, but we have discontinued that product, because it also had the [inaudible 00:21:43] in it, which is not permitted. As I said, I personally think that the Complete Aminos is our original product, but I believe that it supersedes the branch-chain product, because you can use the Complete Aminos during your workout as well. Just prior, during and after. Whereas the other one, to me, is an inferior product afterwards. You only need one product, why not just have the best product?

Ash Horton:
Fair enough? Well, there was some silly questions mixed in, in that one, but I really enjoyed it. It was actually really, really informative.

Christine Envall:
Well, it obviously means that branch-chains are on people's mind and people are coming at it from a whole bunch of different ways. So, it was interesting that a lot of the answers come back to the same thing. But, people are asking those questions, so hopefully we've answered those for all the people who were curious about that.

Ash Horton:
Awesome. Thanks, Christine.

Christine Envall:
Thank you, Ash.

Ash Horton:
Words of wisdom. If you like what you've heard, leave us a review and recognize that these bodybuilding tips from International Protein are free. So, show your support by becoming a loyal International Protein customer, the best supplements money can buy. Jump online, hunt down our product and hit that Buy Now button.