BCAA vs Proteins

Hi there!
So I am bulking, and I’d like to reach the goal to increase my weight of at least 10kg’s. (of muscles). Im supplementing with Creatine and also with protein powder and I’ve noticed that the protein powder it really didn’t helped to build muscles. So I’d like to try out BCAA’s, and see if there is a better “building” of muscles.
A friend of mine, which takes BCAA’s, really boost his muscles with 2 months. It may work well for him, so I’d just to give it a try, and see how it goes.

So far, which are the effects of BCAA’s I should start to notice for?
Also, I would like to take those after workout, usually on the evening meal (I do usually workout at 17:00, then I do eat at 21:00)
Is this bad or good?
Which are the best proportions for my scenario? 4 or 8 ?

Why would it? Are you training? Are you eating in a surplus?

They are not.

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I am eating in surplus :slight_smile:
I also would like to add, is it better to bulk with carbs or fat?
In this case, carbs it’s black rice, and fat it’s olive oil

Not eating for hours after your workout isn’t great. If you can’t eat sooner, you could use protein shakes or BCAAs right after your workout to get a jump start on repairing your muscles. The “effects” of this would be gaining more weight, hopefully muscles.

You didn’t mention what you eat before lifting, but if you go for hours without eating before, taking BCAAs pre-workout might give you more energy for your workouts. The “effect” might be better performance, like more reps. Or maybe you might feel better pumps.

But you’re young, so you should always feel good and energetic. And you’re bulking, so you should never feel hungry and depleted. So you might not feel anything at all from the BCAAs.

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It seems reasonable to ask this. Allow me to give you my experience:

  • (First you should know that I cycled AAS at fairly moderate doses)
  • I ate protein and some carbohydrate 6 times a day. I felt this was extremely important.
  • For most of the 1970’s and '80’s I didn’t take protein supplements, mostly because soy was a primary protein source for the ones I would have been willing to pay the cost (Blair’s milk and egg was too expensive, IMO)
  • Whatever protein I ate had sufficient fat content not be be concerned that I was intaking sufficient fat. So I never worried about fat, until I became aware of essential fatty acids.
  • I heard much talk in the 1980’s about BCAA, but I was sure I was getting enough of those in the protein I was eating (meat and eggs). Why waste the money?
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Quite a bit of data seems to show you’re unlikely to get anything additional from BCAAs if your total protein intake is adequate.

CT has talked a little recently about taking all BCAAs/ EAAs interferes with the preferential uptake of leucine alone, which is the primary “muscle growth signaler.” I don’t yet know what I think about that one way or the other, but I’d rather see you focus on whole day nutrition.

To the point of your friend, obviously many variables come into play (including genetics), but I do think there is kind of a slippery slope of doing everything right. What I mean by that is: if he’s totally dialed in, to the point he’s taking in some exact ratio of BCAAs at a specific time, he’s likely reaping the benefits of the other 23 hours and 59 minutes of his day being perfectly on-point.

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What I’ve noticed is that he eats the “BCAA” right after the workout, but for me, the first thing I eat after my 17:00 workout, it’s in the evening at 21:00.

Is eating soon post workout so important for “bulking” and gaining weight and muscles?

Some people think eating soon after a workout is really important. Others say that it’s not really a big deal.

If you’re not eating for hours after a workout, but you’re still getting bigger and stronger, maybe it’s not important.

But if your progress stalls, I would really, really think about it.

Most people who use whey protein take some Right after workouts. And your friend is using the BCAAs right away too.

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I’m with @FlatsFarmer here - that’s low-hanging fruit to pick if you aren’t seeing the results you want.

I’m starting to fall into the camp of “eat within a 4 hour window around your workout”. So that could be 2 hours before and 2 hours after. If you’re eating as you walk into the gym, and then 4 hours after, maybe that’s fine. I’m guessing you’re not eating a couple hours before (I wouldn’t want to), so now you’re going 6+ hours without any nutrients in you. That’s probably not your fastest route to size, regardless of whether it’s around training or not.

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[quote=“lillo9546, post:1, topic:285927”]
So I am bulking, and I’d like to reach the goal to increase my weight of at least 10kg’s. (of muscles).[/quote]


So, better plan to bulk for 2 years!

I hate to be the beared of bad news, but 10kg of muscle in a a few months is unrealistic. Even when using steroids 10kg in 3 months would be massive for most.

Now, you can easily gain more “weight”. But that weight would be a mix of water, glycogen, fat, muscle and “other stuff” (collagen, minerals, blood volume, etc.). But the truth is that an average person (not genetically gifted for muscle growth), not using steroids, not a beginner and not regaining lost muscle can hope to gain around 0.5 to 1.0% of their bodyweight per month in the form of muscle mass.

For example, if you are 80kg a realistic rate of muscle gain would be 0.4 to 0.8kg per month. And that is if everything is done right.

Now, beginners can gain faster. In fact, in you first year of serious training you can gain as muscle as the next 2-3 years combined.

A beginner can gain 1.5% of their body weight per month in muscle, maybe even up to 2%.

But that’s still not gonna give you 10kg in 2, 3 or even 5+ months.

The problem is that if you are not really lean (a true 10%, which means full abs and acceptable muscle separation) you can gain 4-8kg of fat along with the muscle you build and you won’t “look” fatter. This leads people to believe that they gained more muscle than they really have…

They think that they gained 10, 12, 15kg of muscle. But once they diet down to look leaner with the new muscle, they aren’t much larger than they were. They think that they lost muscle while dieting, but that’s not what happens… they simply overestimated the amount of muscle they gained.

Water weight and glycogen storage can also play a big role. In one day I can go from being 90kg and looking much smaller to being 95kg and looking full, dense and vascular. Simply from retaining more fluids and glycogen in my muscles.

I’m not saying this to be a downer. But to reset your expectations. The #1 cause of training frustration is unrealistic expectations. Which are fueled either by social media or “bros” using steroids but don’t want to admit it.

Now, to be fair, there are some people (around 0.1% of the population) that are freak responders and can grow faster than even some people on steroids. But these guys are rare. And let’s be honest, if you were among them you would not be here asking us questions.

Protein absolutely does help build muscle. It’s actually what muscles are made of. The issue is probably, again, unrealistic expectations about what a supplement does and can do. To be honest, there is no supplement that makes you go “holy sh*t, this stuff is blowing me up”. Just because it doesn’t give you 5kg in a month doesn’t mean that it’s not working.

Simply put, if your protein intake is not optimal you cannot build muscle at an optimal rate.

Actually BCAAs really don’t do much, if anything. There are a lot of studies showing clearly that BCAA do not lead to a significant increase in muscle growth and are inferior to complete protein.

You must understand what BCAAs are. BCAAs are amino acids. Amino acids are what makes up proteins. The protein we ingest (and that are used to build muscle) are made of 20 amino acids. BCAAs are 3 of those 20 amino acids. So BCAAs are nothing more than a small portion of a complete protein. As such, it’s impossible for them to build more muscle than full proteins.

Now, one thing that I must say is that some amino acids do have individual properties and giving the body more of these specific amino acids can have a specific effect that is stronger (for that specific effect) than protein.

Leucine is one of those amino acids. There is a thing called the “leucine threshold”… to make simple, when you reach around 3-4g of leucine in one meal/intake you stimulate muscle protein synthesis (which is what builds muscle).

So theoretically, supplementing with leucine can help you be more anabolic. That’s why BCAAs where ONCE believed to be great for building muscle (before studies showed that it didn’t do anything if you daily protein intake was sufficient). The BCAAs are made of leucine, isoleucine and valine. So yeah, using BCAA increases leucine levels. HOWEVER what was found is that the other BCAAs (isoleucine and valine) competed with leucine for transport. Which makes the leucine a lot less effective.

This is why BCAAs don’t do anything for muscle growth, unless you are undernourished and not eating enough protein.

If you want to dig deeper, I wrote an article on that topic:

The point is that BCAAs are significantly less effective than protein powder for muscle growth.

So, is your friend lying? Maybe (for example maybe he is using steroids or SARMs and doesn’t want to tell you so he says that it’s the BCAAs making a difference) but maybe not. See, the placebo effect is real. If you truly believe the something will work it can actually work, even if physiologically it doesn’t do anything. So if your friend always hear that BCAAs are amazing and wil blow you up, he can believe it and it can have some effect.

Another possibility that I’ve often seen is that someone who starts using supplements starts training harder, training more, eating better. Either voluntarily because they think the supplement gives them an advantage or subconsciously because being “on something” boosts their motivation.

Finally, he could be in the scenario I mentioned earlier. He might have gained a lot of weight and water from eating a ton and mistakingly believe that it’s all muscle.

But truly, BCAAs are a waste of money.

You won’t notice anything. But just because you don’t notice anything it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t DO anything. You won’t “notice” protein. But it works.

But in the case of BCAAs, they really don’t do anything.

[quote=“lillo9546, post:1, topic:285927”]Also, I would like to take those after workout, usually on the evening meal (I do usually workout at 17:00, then I do eat at 21:00)
Is this bad or good?[/quote]

It’s bad in that BCAAs don’t work.

Now, just to show that I’m not just a bro who is anti-supplement (you seem quite young, so you might no know who I am).

I’m a staff member of T-nation. I’m a strength coach who has worked with elite athletes from 26 different sports as well as pro bodybuilders. I’ve been coaching for 27 years. I’ve written 5 books and over 800 articles. I’ve myself competed in olympic lifting, strongman, bodybuilding and football.

So when I say that BCAAs are a waste, they are a waste. Period.

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When you are eating 6 times a day, you are eating shortly after your workout, if for no other reason than there are only 24 hours in a day.

I am in total agreement. Now if the BCAAs are accompanied with proper amounts of Histidine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Lysine, and Tryptophan, then the BCAAs work great.

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Which is why I favor “spiking” a protein shake with 3-5g of leucine, which has been shown to be more effective at increasing muscle protein synthesis more so that the protein shake alone (but BCAA + protein does NOT have the same effect).

And I now know how I’ll introduce myself to everyone from here out!

Awesome information, as always - thanks!

For what it’s worth, I made the most progress eating all my protein: beef, chicken, fish, and eggs (6 meals a day.) But back in the 1970’s and early '80’s, most all the protein supplements had fairly large quantities of soy, apart from Blair (which was pricey in those days).