Over the past few years, BCAA’s (branched-chain amino acid) supplements have popped back up in the conversations of the fitness community, and for great reasons. There’s more scientific research that supports using BCAA supplementation in your fitness plans.

Having a well-balanced BCAA profile in your protein powder is important for increased muscle mass. Studies are revealing that amino acids specifically branched-chain amino acids help maintain muscle mass while dieting for fat loss. As well as speeds up recovery time and reduces muscle soreness.

Though dieting for fat loss makes you look amazing on the competition stage, on the beach, and to the opposite sex, it can also lead to losing your hard earned muscle mass in the process.

“Working out compounds the metabolic effects of dieting” – Says Dr. Layne Norton

Dr Norton also says dieting is catabolic, which means it can lead to muscle breakdown, for several reasons. The more lean a body becomes, the more likely it will lose muscle mass as the body tries harder to hold onto those body fat stores. In the process, the body will turn to your muscles for energy it needs. This is bad news if you’re looking for that beach body shredded look.

On the scientific level, muscle loss occurs because the body increases protein breakdown (catabolism) in order to release muscle amino acids for fuel. To make it worse, muscle loss is compounded by the fact levels of protein synthesis will also decrease due to reduced energy intake.

A basic equation for muscle mass is: Muscle mass = rate of protein synthesis – rate of protein breakdown

So when the rate of protein synthesis equals the rate of breakdown, you don’t gain or lose muscle. If the rate of protein synthesis exceeds the rate of breakdown, you gain muscle. If the rate of breakdown exceed the rate of synthesis, you lose muscle.

If you are dieting, you could possibly be burning the candle at both ends. You could be elevating muscle breakdown and reducing protein synthesis. Which could also be the reason we are so sore after our workouts.

When you workout that compounds the metabolic effects of dieting. Meaning the more fat you lose you could become more tired and lethargic. When you are tired and have a lower energy intake from food your workout sessions become pretty rough to endure.

If you’re too tired or weak to run, lift weights, or workout like you were before you started dieting, your muscles and body will adjust. Meaning, your body won’t use much energy to get the job done.

This means your body won’t increase lean muscle mass. It also could mean your body will lose muscle mass because you’re using muscle tissue to push through your workouts.

Enter BCAA

  • How do you avoid being tired during your workouts?
  • How do you combat muscle loss during dieting?
  • How do you recover faster?

You introduce BCAA’s into your fitness goals

j530bcaafilledbottleIt’s well documented that branched-chain amino acids (leucine in particular) stimulate protein synthesis, and might do so to a larger extent than a normal protein on its own. Branched-chain amino acids also increase synthesis of the cellular machinery responsible for carrying out the process of protein synthesis.

Thus, BCAA’s not only increase the rate of protein synthesis, but they also increase the cell’s capacity for protein synthesis!

BCAAs work in your favor by reducing the rate of protein breakdown. This is accomplished by decreasing the activity of the components of the protein breakdown pathway. In addition to decreasing the expression of several complexes involved in protein breakdown.

Going back to the muscle mass equation from earlier, increasing protein synthesis and decreasing breakdown equals muscle gain or muscle maintain and reduced soreness.

And that is how you win the fight against muscle loss while dieting to lose fat.

This is how you may earn that beach physique you’ve always wanted.

But Wait, It Gets Better

Branched-chain amino acids have another positive upside. Studies show that taking BCAA intra (during) your workout could improve the intensity of the workout. Which means you could get more out of your workout and thus see performance improvements.

BCAAs fight with the amino acid tryptophan for entry into the brain, where tryptophan can be converted to the neurotransmitter serotonin.

During exercise, serotonin levels increase and can raise the level of perception that you are tired or fatigue. This means a less effective workout.

BCAA supplements reduce the amount of tryptophan that enters the brain, thus reducing serotonin produced. This may allow you to work harder, longer, and have a more productive workout.

Studies also show that taking BCAAs while dieting “induced significant and preferential losses of VAT, and allowed maintenance of a high level of performance”. VAT stands for visceral adipose tissue. It’s the deadly fat that accumulates around our organs (AKA Belly Fat).

Combining a diet with BCAA supplementation could significantly help you lose belly fat.


Can’t I Just Get BCAAs From My Whey Protein, you may be asking?

Well yes you can. But you have to think about your overall fitness goals. The critics of BCAAs will tell you just to consume more whey protein to get more BCAAs. When you are cutting weight this isn’t the most effective strategy. Now whey protein has a nice branched-chain amino acid profile and you can benefit from that profile while getting all of the other amino acids that whey protein provides.

But there is a time and place for whey and there is a time and place for BCAAs.

You may have heard people say: “I take whey protein after I work out for recovery”. What they mean and may not know it, is that they take whey protein to get the BCAAs out of the make-up for recovery.

The BCAAs in whey protein are peptide-bound to the other amino acids and, in order to be effective, must be released through digestion and then absorbed through the bloodstream. Even though whey protein is relatively fast digesting, it still takes a few hours for all of the amino acids to be digested, released, and absorbed into the bloodstream.

BCAAs as a separate supplement is free-form, requires no digestion, and are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. They spike blood amino acid levels to a much greater and faster extent than peptide-bound aminos.

Even a few grams of free-form BCAAs will spike BCAA plasma levels to a much greater extent than 30 grams of whey protein. This impacts protein synthesis and protein breakdown to a much greater degree.

The reason BCAA supplements have such a powerful effect on blood-BCAA levels is that, unlike other amino acids, BCAAs are not significantly metabolized by the small intestine or the liver. Therefore taking BCAA as an oral supplement acts more like a BCAA infusion because it reaches the bloodstream so rapidly.

Since BCAAs work so fast, this speeds up the workout recovery process so you can continue your training and not spend your time recovering from your previous workout.

What Does All of This Mean?

women-weightsStudies have revealed that dieting groups supplementing with BCAAs increase muscle retention, maximize fat loss, and recovers much more effectively than non-supplemented groups.

Bottom line: BCAAS allow you to maintain your muscles while you shed that unwanted fat and allows you to recover faster. (WIN-WIN-WIN)



Run don’t walk to get your J530 Performance BCAA + Glutamine Supplement











US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

Huntington College

Dr. Layne Norton


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1748109 – taken intra

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21297567 – intra


http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20601741 – reduce muscle soreness

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9059905 – fat loss VAT (Visceral Fat Loss)

Hopefully you received a lot of informative information.

Leave us a comment and let us know what you think.



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