Before I get into any details describing these supplements I’d like to state my belief that whole foods are the foundation of sports nutrition and if you’re not eating properly your supplements will not make up for bad eating habits!
One of the hardest things to do is learning how to eat correctly but you should take some time and educate yourself and get in the habit of obtaining the bulk of your nutritional needs from plain wholesome food.
Food supplements are supplements and not nutritional replacements and should be used in addition to regular food not instead of it. Your most important nutritional purchases happen at the grocery store, not the health food store so don’t be one of these guys who spends several hundred quid per month on supplements yet lives on lidls chocolate snaps , oven chips, tesco value sweets and anything goes in the reduced shelf.
Once you’ve learned the basics of all around nutrition, meal content, and timing you can progress further by directing some of your efforts towards targeted supplementation.
While BCAA supplementation may be useful for gaining mass, I believe BCAAs are especially helpful for maintaining muscle mass while on a calorie-deficit diet.
The leaner a body gets, the more likely it is to lose muscle mass as the body tries harder and harder to hold onto body fat stores. In doing so, the body will turn to muscle to satisfy its energy needs. Bad news bears for anyone interested in a lean body ( :P sorry about the pun!.)
The basic equation for muscle mass is: Muscle mass = rate of protein synthesis - rate of protein breakdown
If you're dieting, you may be burning the candle at both ends: elevating muscle breakdown and reducing protein synthesis.
BCAAs vs Whey
Despite the numerous positive benefits to BCAA supplementation, there are many skeptics who suggest that BCAAs are overpriced and that, to get more BCAAs, one should just consume more whey protein. While whey is rich in BCAAs, this isn't the most effective strategy. Even though whey protein is relatively fast digesting, it still takes several hours for all the amino acids to be liberated and absorbed into the bloodstream.
BCAAs in supplement form, however, are free form, require no digestion, and are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. Even a few grams of free-form BCAAs will spike BCAA plasma levels to a much greater extent than a 30g dose of whey protein, thereby impacting protein synthesis and protein degradation to a much greater degree.
The reason BCAA supplements have such a powerful effect on blood BCAA levels is that, is that unlike other amino acids, BCAAs are not significantly metabolized by the small intestine or the liver.
: studies have shown that dieting groups supplementing with BCAAs (like leucine) increase muscle retention and maximize fat loss much more effectively than non-supplemented groups. That's the bottom line, my friends: more muscle mass retained, and a greater percentage of lost body fat.