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Don’t rely on BCAAs alone: Study

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) are more effective when taking in conjunction with other muscle-building supplements.

A new study, published in Frontier in Physiology, shows that taking BCAAs alone is not the best way to optimise muscular growth.

Building blocks

“Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and the special class of amino acids, known as BCAA, stimulate the muscle growth response. These supplements are considered to be an important part of the nutrition plan for many bodybuilders, weightlifters and others seeking muscle growth,” says professor Kevin Tipton who formed part of the research group who probed how effective supplements were for stimulating muscle growth.

Full complement of amino acids

“Our results show that the common practice of taking BCAA supplements in isolation will stimulate muscle protein synthesis — the metabolic mechanism that leads to muscle growth — but the total response will not be maximal because BCAA supplements do not provide other amino acids essential for the best response. A sufficient amount of the full complement of amino acids is necessary for maximum muscle building, following exercise. Athletes interested in enhancing muscle growth with training should not rely on these BCAA supplements alone, “ says Tipton.

Greater muscle growth response

BCAAs enhanced muscle growth slightly compared to a placebo but the muscle’s response was more than double when a whey protein supplement containing the equivalent amount of BCAAs that included other amino acids, was taken.

Weightlifters participated in the study conducted by scientists at the University of Stirling in Scotland. The weightlifters took the supplement in a dose equivalent to 20 grams of whey protein, after a weight session in the gym.

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