Stop Leucine Your Gains

You don't need to mix BCAA with carbohydrate!

Branch-chain amino acids (BCAA) are all the rage when it comes to nutrition supplementation, with good reason. Although current research is not definitive, there are plenty of studies indicating positive results for use of BCAA and the maintenance/development of muscle tissue.

In accordance, many people are now purchasing BCAA supplements and predominately using them as an intra-workout supplement, to help maintain muscle while dieting or build new muscle.

When being advised on these supplements – whether by a trainer or retail staff – people are being told that they need to consume carbohydrates along with BCAA, to increase insulin and drive the amino acids into the cell.

This is not correct.

Leucine - which is one of the three BCAA - has an insulinogenic effect in isolation. This means that it stimulates the release of insulin into the bloodstream. In fact, any intake of complete protein stimulates insulin regardless of carbohydrate intake, although it’s a lesser magnitude than carbohydrate alone.

So don’t waste your time and money on intra-workout carbohydrates, to perform a function you simply don’t need. At best they will be a waste of money, at worst they will inhibit the mobilisation of fatty acids into the blood (via increased insulin).

That’s the irony here... people are being told to consume a supplement to assist with muscle tissue retention while the goal is reducing fat tissue. However, the additional carbohydrate may actually inhibit fat oxidation during that session. So think about that one.

The theory behind what the trainers and retail workers are saying is OK and they are trying to help. However, once you consider the physiological and metabolic steps, it doesn't actually work!


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