The best nutrition lesson in Iron Culture is usually the first one aspiring muscle heads learn – you’ve got to eat more protein! It goes without saying that the development of mass is only possible by adding a few eggs, grabbing an extra chicken leg, getting in that post workout whey, and enjoying an occasional slab of steak. It’s not necessary to stop and ask, “Why?” We know we need to do it, so we do it (I’m literally eating a plate of pork, cheese, and broccoli while writing this article!). One of the more controversial questions is the comparison of branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) to protein; we’re asked all the time, “What’s the point of BCAAs if I’m eating protein?” To know the answer, we need to know why we’re eating all the protein in the first place.
Why do we Eat Protein?
Bodybuilders, weight lifters, power lifters, and other athletes eat protein to get amino acids. Not just BCAAs, but all of the amino acids. That’s all proteins are – chains of amino acids. Having sufficient quantities of amino acids is what makes animal proteins advantageous over plant proteins, but did you know that animal proteins also contain more BCAAs? That’s another reason they’re more effective. In fact, if a lifter were to consume all 17 of the amino acids that are NOT the 3 BCAAs, that lifter would forever be a sad, little ectomorph. Without the BCAAs, muscles don’t know that they need to grow.
Muscles can’t grow without protein, but if we narrow that statement down, it is also true that muscles can’t grow without the BCAAs. You see, our muscles are composed of proteins, but the biochemical signal that turns muscle growth on is the BCAA, leucine. In the foot race to put on size, leucine is the starting gun. The other 2 BCAAs, isoleucine and valine, sacrifice themselves to preserve leucine and allow it to keep muscle growing longer.
This has meaningful effects on your journey to the ultimate physique. Once you’re eating ~1 gram of protein per pound of body weight, the mass-gaining effects of protein plateau. Here is where supplementing BCAAs take a true advantage. If your protein intake is already up to the standards of a mass monster, start using BCAAs instead. When compared head-to-head, bodybuilders eating 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight gain DOUBLE the mass, gain DOUBLE the strength, and lose DOUBLE the body fat with HALF the amount of BCAA compared to additional protein, and we are NOT F***ing with you. This is just what happens. When you’re eating enough protein, adding 14 grams of BCAA is literally twice as effective as adding another 28 grams of protein. And we know your protein is in check because that’s the first lesson you learned!
BCAAs trigger the anabolic muscular response, and BCAA can be more effective than protein for adding muscle and strength. These effects are achieved while simultaneously consuming fewer calories, encouraging greater fat loss. It’s becoming well known that eating protein won’t cause anyone to gain weight, but when we isolate the functional portion of protein (BCAA), people can actually lose body fat while still fostering greater muscle anabolism.
The train doesn’t stop there! BCAAs are also utilized as a fuel source in exercising muscles. Having sufficient carbohydrate helps prevent BCAA and protein catabolism, but because of their branched structure, the BCAAs are some of the first amino acids to be broken down to make energy. Luckily, our muscles know that leucine is important, which is why valine and isoleucine are on guard to protect leucine and offer themselves as sacrifice before muscles will start metabolizing leucine. When BCAA are supplemented during exercise, athletes experience less fatigue. Less fatigue equals more work, and more work equals more gains!
There are several more benefits to BCAAs worth mentioning. They are just less important than adding muscle, gaining strength, and losing body fat. The benefits include improved liver, heart, and kidney health, improved sleep quality, and reduced insulin resistance. The debate is settled, and the answer is to first eat enough protein (DUH!) then add BCAA before you start adding more protein. If you’re ready to step your game up and kill every workout, it might be time to add BCAA to your supplement arsenal. Killer Labz Brute BCAA packs a punch with all 3 BCAAs plus the amino acids, taurine, alanine, and glutamine alongside anabolic hormone agonists and enhanced absorption with black pepper extract.