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Amino Acid Supplementation

I just read this in an exercise physiology textbook and it goes against my beliefs, and also what seems to be popular belief of athletes/ those who train. It says “amino acid supplementation in any form much above the RDA has not been shown experimentally to improve strength, power, muscle mass, or endurance”.

I guess I’m curious why this was thought to be true and why it is not thought to be true now. What are the opposing arguments, if there are, or is this just outdated? It’s a text from 1994. Thanks

It does however go on to state that there is a debate between whether or not athletes who use intense resistance training may need more protein. But there number for more protein is still somewhat low (1.2 -1.6 grams per kg of body weight). Mutiply your weight by .37 then by 1.2-1.6 to get what they say would be a suitable excess amount.

The DRI (or RDA) for protein is still approximately 0.8g protein/kg of body weight.

For people seriously into bodybuilding or strength training who train regularly and consistently, this is not likely enough if you want the best results possible. If you were to actually eat 0.8g/kg of bodyweight of protein and then supplement with a lot of BCAAs, then you’d probably get quite a bit of benefit from the BCAAs because you would be going from insufficient protein intake to a slightly better protein intake.

However, if your protein intake was already sufficiently high(ie. 1.6g protein/kg of bodyweight or higher), then the addition of BCAAs would at most give you a minute marginal benefit. And if you did eat an insufficient amount of protein for your goals in the first place, you’d be better off adding whey protein as a supplement rather than BCAAs to bring up your intake (more total protein and is about 20% BCAA anyway).

[quote]bulkNcut wrote:
I just read this in an exercise physiology textbook and it goes against my beliefs, and also what seems to be popular belief of athletes/ those who train. It says “amino acid supplementation in any form much above the RDA has not been shown experimentally to improve strength, power, muscle mass, or endurance”.

I guess I’m curious why this was thought to be true and why it is not thought to be true now. What are the opposing arguments, if there are, or is this just outdated? It’s a text from 1994. Thanks [/quote]

The rate of protein synthesis versus degradation will ultimately decide how much protein a person needs per unit of time. This value varies by circumstance for every individual; however, the human body is not more that 15 to 17% protein by weight so eating beyond that in our diet makes little sense.

I would also argue that those people who are looking to add weight can easily do so by supplementing with very little additional protein added to their diets. The real essential ingredients beyond protein are the minerals magnesium, potassium, calcium, and also having enough energy substrates left-over to do so (a person with adequate body fat has no problem accessing this energy so long as he is in a ketogenic state - i.e., using a moderate protein, low carbohydrate diet).

The human body is also designed to be very protein sparing in lean times.

So for someone training to increase muscle mass what would you reccomend for protein intake? I know some who say 1 gram per pound of body weight, then others who say the above. Those are two very different numbers

I would say for an average sized bodybuilder 1g/pound is good enough.

That’s what I had had been aiming for. However these two beliefs are so different. For example I’m 209 so if I continue with what I’ve been doing ill continue to get about 200 grams per day (some days i may get less bit its not a big deal). However going by the RDA for the text I would only need around 125 grams and that’s what they consider on the high end. Just doesn’t make much sense that there can be such huge differences in amounts for each point if view

from a strictly strength training point,(never delt with BB’s) I like to aim for 1g\pound strictly from food, and use whey shakes for quick digest around training and mornings, adding another 60 or 90 grams, I don’t find shakes to hold the same value as food on a gram to gram basis. I don’t pretend to know just what I’ve seen training self and others,2cents

should read (don’t pretend to know why)my mistake, wrapping presents

Wording can sometimes be quite critical to the meaning. “Has not been shown experimentally” is quite different from “Has been shown experimentally not to.”

Exercise science is a difficult area for measurement. For example for pharmaceuticals, so much money is involved that there can and often will be thousands of subjects. This causes random error or “noise” (for example, the way the weight of persons will fluctuate somewhat even with no real change in the body) to largely cancel out.

But in exercise science, there is much less money, and as a result studies ordinarly use rather few subjects, such as 7 or 10. As a result, noise becomes a large factor.

For example, let’s consider fat loss, where let’s say 5 subjects in each group (treatment and placebo) are instructed to start an exercise program and keep diet the same for say 4 weeks, but diet is not controlled.

Just to have an example to look at, let’s say the placebo group changes in weight are +4, 0, +1, -4, and -1 lb. The total weight change among all 5 subjects is 0 lb. On the face of it, someone might conclude that exercise alone did nothing.

And let’s say the group receiving the treatment gets results of -4, -2, -5, 0, and +4 lb. The total weight change among all 5 subjects is -7 lb. Looks better than what actually happened with the placebo group, but do the results show that the treatment had any effect?

It’s clear even without grinding through a statistical analysis that we can’t conclude that.

Might it not have happened that by chance say the placebo group’s +4 lb subject hadn’t been chosen, or had been put into the group receiving the treatment, and instead another person like the -4 lb person had taken his place? That could have happened, couldn’t it?

If it had, then the total weight change among all 5 subjects would instead of 0 lb have been -8 lb. We really can’t say at all precisely what weight loss in the placebo group was caused by the exercise. Our measurement is of exercise effect plus noise.

So since the placebo + exercise group might plausibly have lost 8 lb (total), while the treatment + exercise group lost 7 lb total, clearly the treatment “has not been shown experimentally” to aid weight loss.

But might it? Sure. Maybe noise went the other way here. Perhaps if there had been very many subjects, almost none would have had a weight gain result, and there would have been many more cases of large weight loss. Maybe 2 or even 3 out of the 5 subjects in this group were individuals who would have gained considerable weight during the 4 weeks if they hadn’t had the treatment. But we don’t know. There is no way to know from a study like this with so few subjects and so much random variation.

To actually be able to measure this and have a meaningful result, we’d need a lot of subjects, and we might need much more than 4 weeks.

The above was just illustration.

Muscle mass gain is an even harder thing to measure for most exercise science researchers, because the subjects are typically capable of gaining muscle easily during the course of the study, the treatment period is short, and individual variation is very large.

So this is why even a real effect that is of use to those who, through long, dedicated, and intelligent training have gotten to where they are largely plateau’d, is usually undetectable in typical exercise science studies which measure muscle mass.

Protein synthesis, on the other hand, is much more readily measured to high statistical significance. So for example with leucine plus essential amino acids, http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/94/3/809

More generally the science can be excellent reason to rule things out (where things are shown to not work, as opposed to not show whether they work) and to find promising leads and then try them out.

The “lab” of personal experience, where trained to the point where one knows pretty accurately what “would” happen if not taking the supplement, actually can be more meaningful than the typical study which is limited by the above factors. (A study which used athletes in a like situation and allowed sufficient time could be better yet, but there are very few such studies.)

[quote]AnytimeJake wrote:
use whey shakes for quick digest around training and mornings, adding another 60 or 90 grams, I don’t find shakes to hold the same value as food on a gram to gram basis.[/quote]

Amino Acids are amino acids regradless what the source is…Valine is gonaa be valine
Food has more “calories” but in respect to AA’s gram for gram they have the same value.

Because they are so many variables, getting at least 1.5g x BW / day for an active physique enthusiast is very important regardless that from a TECHNICAL standpoint it might be overkill.

1 first, you don’t really know what you need, so why not eat a tried and true amount that BBers have used for years that works?

  1. Protein has a nearly 10-20% thermic effect. So a protein calorie is really more like 3.6/g

  2. Some of the protein you eat is going to be oxidized for energy, not build tissue

  3. If your protein is low, then what exactly makes up your calories for the day? Not everybody can carb up 3-400g / day and not get fat. And too much fat in the presence of carbs is very very lipogenic as well. I’d rather replace some of my energy nutrient calories with protein.

  4. Though subjective, it’s been demonstrated that protein foods have the highest satiety

  5. Lastly, 0.8g x BW / day might be a great number to shoot for if you ONLY account for high quality sources and completely ignore the shit proteins (soy, nuts, wheat, oats, etc).

@ glograves- You bring up a really good point with number 4, one that is often overlooked when talking about protein intake. In fact that may be the first time I have heard someone mention that in this context. Its a simple concept, but seems to be one that goes unseen.

@ Bill Roberts- It sure does seem like the field of exercise science has some challenges. So many factors to isolate when testing in the lab

I’ve been a strenght coach for nineteen years, we add supplements in, one at a time, and trac progress to find there worth. For strength we,ve found 1gram per pound from food, and 1\2 gram per pound from whey works best,atleast for the system we use. More protien than this has little effect on strength, and reverseing the protien intake(1\2 g\p from food and 1g\p from whey) is less effective for strength gains.

The lab has it,s place, but I go by what I see work with my own eyes. As far as amino’s, some of my guys swear by them before and during training, to plow through a long workout, I can’t see them hurting anything, so if you had the money it’s worth a shot, thats my 2 cents

@anytime Jake- Thanks for the input, nice to hear from a strength coach on here.

I didn’t meen to sound like some stuckup expert, pretty small area I’m into, mostly hockey players(17 to 24) and lately MMA guys comming around, but the older I get, it all seems simple, and people seem to want to over comlicate things, it was just my 2 cents, I mean add the aminos in(nothing else new)for say 60 days, watch your journal, and see weather they add anything to your taining or not. If no other variables are changed, this should give you a simple answer weather to keep them or not.These are the kind of studies I trust. Goodluck

Your statement is true, but your point is distorted. Amino Acids can enter our body in different forms - and that form is quite crucial in deciding how fast and how complete it will be absorbed. Just cause the Leucine in whey is the same as Leucine in other protein sources does not mean that there is no difference to how much actually becomes usable and used by the body.

[quote]Cron391 wrote:

[quote]AnytimeJake wrote:
use whey shakes for quick digest around training and mornings, adding another 60 or 90 grams, I don’t find shakes to hold the same value as food on a gram to gram basis.[/quote]

Amino Acids are amino acids regradless what the source is…Valine is gonaa be valine
Food has more “calories” but in respect to AA’s gram for gram they have the same value.
[/quote]

Different di- and tripeptides also can have different biological effects, and different proteins contain different di and tri-peptide sequences.