T Nation

Does BCAA Actually Work?

Hi guys, the question is in the title. What are your experience with using / mega dosing with BCAA ? Do you feel any difference when training/ recovery/ phisique ? Is it worth the money ? Might it just be a placebo effect ?Thanks in advance.

What do you consider a mega-dose?

[quote]BlueCollarTr8n wrote:
What do you consider a mega-dose? [/quote]

Well, I don’t know much about these things, but as far as I have " researched " some athletes take for example as much as twenty and even more capsules per day, or some of them don’t even count the pills, they just get a fist full of them and swallow. The average does is supposed to be somewhat 2 capsules three times a day, so 6 a day. But as I said, I know little about supplementation, that’s why I’m asking.

It’s not a BCAA but I take Citrulline Malate and I feel a difference in my pump when taking it. In regards to BCAA’s I wouldn’t do a mega-dose but I would recommend bookending them.

Charles Poliquin recommends that people take large amounts of BCAA throughout their workout, like a few between each set. I think he talked about 30-50 grams in a workout. He didn’t push peri-workout carbs by the way.

Anyway, I’ve done it. It only seemed to help me get stronger/maintain while in calorie deficit.

I try to get as much BCAA rich food as I can plus the daily dose of 15grams BCAA (xtend) but as far as I’m concerned anything without proper scheduled meals is a waste of money on its own.

[quote]leftylighty wrote:
I try to get as much BCAA rich food as I can plus the daily dose of 15grams BCAA (xtend) but as far as I’m concerned anything without proper scheduled meals is a waste of money on its own.[/quote]

Yeah, I agree with you, food always comes first. Thats why I’m in a debate with myself, should buy BCAA or not. I bought fish oil two or three weeks ago, and I am mega dosing on that ( Charles Poliquin ) , I’m having 40 milligrams a day, but to be honest I haven’t felt any difference really.

People report that it almost does " magic " to them , eg : joint pain goes away, better sleep, even fat burning , yet I haven’t really seen any difference… But maybe that’s because I don’t really have any issues with joint pain or insomnia. I bought fish oil more as a preventive measure, cause I do train a lot.
Coming back to BCAA, it doesn’t really cost much to order it and try it for oneself, but I just like to gather as much information as possible, be it if I’m buying a laptop or a protein powder :slight_smile:

[quote]devoted wrote:

[quote]leftylighty wrote:
I try to get as much BCAA rich food as I can plus the daily dose of 15grams BCAA (xtend) but as far as I’m concerned anything without proper scheduled meals is a waste of money on its own.[/quote]

Yeah, I agree with you, food always comes first. Thats why I’m in a debate with myself, should buy BCAA or not. I bought fish oil two or three weeks ago, and I am mega dosing on that ( Charles Poliquin ) , I’m having 40 milligrams a day, but to be honest I haven’t felt any difference really.

People report that it almost does " magic " to them , eg : joint pain goes away, better sleep, even fat burning , yet I haven’t really seen any difference… But maybe that’s because I don’t really have any issues with joint pain or insomnia. I bought fish oil more as a preventive measure, cause I do train a lot.
Coming back to BCAA, it doesn’t really cost much to order it and try it for oneself, but I just like to gather as much information as possible, be it if I’m buying a laptop or a protein powder :)[/quote]

40 milligrams of fish oil is not megadosing. A typical fish oil capsule of 1 gram has 300 milligrams of omega 3s.

If you mean 4000 milligrams (4 grams) that is only 1.2 grams of omega 3s which is below health needs. If oyu mean 40 grams of fish oil, that’s 12 grams of omega 3s which is OK for maybe a week, but well above the proven optimal health threshold for long term.

Anyway, regular fish oil has a DHA to EPA ratio that is optimal for females, and not good for males. Store bought fish oil capsules are not going to help guys much, except to meet their needs of 2-4 grams of Omega 3s a say.

[quote]mertdawg wrote:

[quote]devoted wrote:

[quote]leftylighty wrote:
I try to get as much BCAA rich food as I can plus the daily dose of 15grams BCAA (xtend) but as far as I’m concerned anything without proper scheduled meals is a waste of money on its own.[/quote]

Yeah, I agree with you, food always comes first. Thats why I’m in a debate with myself, should buy BCAA or not. I bought fish oil two or three weeks ago, and I am mega dosing on that ( Charles Poliquin ) , I’m having 40 milligrams a day, but to be honest I haven’t felt any difference really.

People report that it almost does " magic " to them , eg : joint pain goes away, better sleep, even fat burning , yet I haven’t really seen any difference… But maybe that’s because I don’t really have any issues with joint pain or insomnia. I bought fish oil more as a preventive measure, cause I do train a lot.
Coming back to BCAA, it doesn’t really cost much to order it and try it for oneself, but I just like to gather as much information as possible, be it if I’m buying a laptop or a protein powder :)[/quote]

40 milligrams of fish oil is not megadosing. A typical fish oil capsule of 1 gram has 300 milligrams of omega 3s.

If you mean 4000 milligrams (4 grams) that is only 1.2 grams of omega 3s which is below health needs. If oyu mean 40 grams of fish oil, that’s 12 grams of omega 3s which is OK for maybe a week, but well above the proven optimal health threshold for long term.

Anyway, regular fish oil has a DHA to EPA ratio that is optimal for females, and not good for males. Store bought fish oil capsules are not going to help guys much, except to meet their needs of 2-4 grams of Omega 3s a say.

[/quote]

Oh sorry, I meant 40 grams, or 6 teaspoons a day.

[quote]mertdawg wrote:
Anyway, I’ve done it. It only seemed to help me get stronger/maintain while in calorie deficit. [/quote]
I think this does appear to be the case.

For me, when on a cut I felt that my workouts were enhanced by BCAA’s.
I found good benefit when sipping intra-workout for strength sessions.
Alternatively I found it highly beneficial pre-workout for heavy cardio/sports sessions.

On a cut, it did allow me to preserve muscle.

[quote]devoted wrote:

[quote]mertdawg wrote:

[quote]devoted wrote:

[quote]leftylighty wrote:
I try to get as much BCAA rich food as I can plus the daily dose of 15grams BCAA (xtend) but as far as I’m concerned anything without proper scheduled meals is a waste of money on its own.[/quote]

Yeah, I agree with you, food always comes first. Thats why I’m in a debate with myself, should buy BCAA or not. I bought fish oil two or three weeks ago, and I am mega dosing on that ( Charles Poliquin ) , I’m having 40 milligrams a day, but to be honest I haven’t felt any difference really.

People report that it almost does " magic " to them , eg : joint pain goes away, better sleep, even fat burning , yet I haven’t really seen any difference… But maybe that’s because I don’t really have any issues with joint pain or insomnia. I bought fish oil more as a preventive measure, cause I do train a lot.
Coming back to BCAA, it doesn’t really cost much to order it and try it for oneself, but I just like to gather as much information as possible, be it if I’m buying a laptop or a protein powder :)[/quote]

40 milligrams of fish oil is not megadosing. A typical fish oil capsule of 1 gram has 300 milligrams of omega 3s.

If you mean 4000 milligrams (4 grams) that is only 1.2 grams of omega 3s which is below health needs. If oyu mean 40 grams of fish oil, that’s 12 grams of omega 3s which is OK for maybe a week, but well above the proven optimal health threshold for long term.

Anyway, regular fish oil has a DHA to EPA ratio that is optimal for females, and not good for males. Store bought fish oil capsules are not going to help guys much, except to meet their needs of 2-4 grams of Omega 3s a say.

[/quote]

Oh sorry, I meant 40 grams, or 6 teaspoons a day.
[/quote]

Which brand? I ask because 6 teaspoons a day of some brands will give you a weeks work of active vitamin A, and you probably don’t want to do that more than once a week given that you should have other sources of vitamin A as well. Anyway, 40 grams of fish oil will typically be 12 grams omega 3. Even high omega-3 paleo only recommend about 7-8 a day average, and most newer primal nutrition plans suggest about 3 grams a day. How long does Poliquin recommend going at that level? I could see it as a way to build up your stored supply if it has been chronically low.

[quote]devoted wrote:
Hi guys, the question is in the title. What are your experience with using / mega dosing with BCAA ? Do you feel any difference when training/ recovery/ phisique ? Is it worth the money ? Might it just be a placebo effect ?Thanks in advance.[/quote]

Silly to megadose BCAAs. All you really need is to take enough for 3 grams of leucine (or just use bulk leucine) preworkout to get mTOR signalling rolling. If you’re going to use aminos intra, use EAAs or easy to digest protein sources (MAG-10, Plazma, hydro whey, whey isolate if you don’t have gut issues during training with that). Also no need to take BCAAs post, just get some protein in or food after a workout.

On a cut, it may be beneficial to take the BCAAs for the leucine spike in between meals. It signals the body to be anabolic rather than catabolic and the BCAAs also acts as a source of energy via conversion to ketones and/or glucose.

[quote]mertdawg wrote:

[quote]devoted wrote:

[quote]mertdawg wrote:

[quote]devoted wrote:

[quote]leftylighty wrote:
I try to get as much BCAA rich food as I can plus the daily dose of 15grams BCAA (xtend) but as far as I’m concerned anything without proper scheduled meals is a waste of money on its own.[/quote]

Yeah, I agree with you, food always comes first. Thats why I’m in a debate with myself, should buy BCAA or not. I bought fish oil two or three weeks ago, and I am mega dosing on that ( Charles Poliquin ) , I’m having 40 milligrams a day, but to be honest I haven’t felt any difference really.

People report that it almost does " magic " to them , eg : joint pain goes away, better sleep, even fat burning , yet I haven’t really seen any difference… But maybe that’s because I don’t really have any issues with joint pain or insomnia. I bought fish oil more as a preventive measure, cause I do train a lot.
Coming back to BCAA, it doesn’t really cost much to order it and try it for oneself, but I just like to gather as much information as possible, be it if I’m buying a laptop or a protein powder :)[/quote]

40 milligrams of fish oil is not megadosing. A typical fish oil capsule of 1 gram has 300 milligrams of omega 3s.

If you mean 4000 milligrams (4 grams) that is only 1.2 grams of omega 3s which is below health needs. If oyu mean 40 grams of fish oil, that’s 12 grams of omega 3s which is OK for maybe a week, but well above the proven optimal health threshold for long term.

Anyway, regular fish oil has a DHA to EPA ratio that is optimal for females, and not good for males. Store bought fish oil capsules are not going to help guys much, except to meet their needs of 2-4 grams of Omega 3s a say.

[/quote]

Oh sorry, I meant 40 grams, or 6 teaspoons a day.
[/quote]

Which brand? I ask because 6 teaspoons a day of some brands will give you a weeks work of active vitamin A, and you probably don’t want to do that more than once a week given that you should have other sources of vitamin A as well. Anyway, 40 grams of fish oil will typically be 12 grams omega 3. Even high omega-3 paleo only recommend about 7-8 a day average, and most newer primal nutrition plans suggest about 3 grams a day. How long does Poliquin recommend going at that level? I could see it as a way to build up your stored supply if it has been chronically low. [/quote]

It is " Seven Seas " pure cod liver oil ( sorry, I made a mistake by saying it is " fish oil " )

[quote]kissdadookie wrote:

[quote]devoted wrote:
Hi guys, the question is in the title. What are your experience with using / mega dosing with BCAA ? Do you feel any difference when training/ recovery/ phisique ? Is it worth the money ? Might it just be a placebo effect ?Thanks in advance.[/quote]

Silly to megadose BCAAs. All you really need is to take enough for 3 grams of leucine (or just use bulk leucine) preworkout to get mTOR signalling rolling. If you’re going to use aminos intra, use EAAs or easy to digest protein sources (MAG-10, Plazma, hydro whey, whey isolate if you don’t have gut issues during training with that). Also no need to take BCAAs post, just get some protein in or food after a workout.

On a cut, it may be beneficial to take the BCAAs for the leucine spike in between meals. It signals the body to be anabolic rather than catabolic and the BCAAs also acts as a source of energy via conversion to ketones and/or glucose.[/quote]

I would say that the dose probably depends on how often and how intensely you train, and body weight as well. An athlete at 80 kg will have different needs in terms of dosages than someone at 140 kg. now I’m not a huge guy, but not small as well 125 kg 194 cm. secondly, I workout 5 or 6 times a week max squatting benching, dead lifting, and shoulder pressing twice every 9 days. I’m not really concerned about the dosages for now ( it was just to get more conversation going on ) . I am more curious if BCAA works in the first place, cause some people sware by it and others say it doesn’t help at all, obviously I will just have to buy it and check for myself.

[quote]devoted wrote:
I would say that the dose probably depends on how often and how intensely you train, and body weight as well. An athlete at 80 kg will have different needs in terms of dosages than someone at 140 kg. now I’m not a huge guy, but not small as well 125 kg 194 cm. secondly, I workout 5 or 6 times a week max squatting benching, dead lifting, and shoulder pressing twice every 9 days. I’m not really concerned about the dosages for now ( it was just to get more conversation going on ) . I am more curious if BCAA works in the first place, cause some people sware by it and others say it doesn’t help at all, obviously I will just have to buy it and check for myself.[/quote]

Again, it’s the leucine content that matters. It’s been shown over and over in studies (even on big guys), that 3 grams of a bulbous dose of leucine is what will maximize the mTOR response from leucine. The other 2 BCAAs actually don’t do much (isoleucine and valine). On the other side of the equation is actual protein synthesis, you still need the other EAAs in order to synthesize new proteins. Leucine basically activates the signalling to synthesize new proteins but you still need the other EAAs as the substrate/material to synthesize the new proteins with.

Also, with leucine’s effects on mTOR, it is dose dependent BUT the effects are not linear. Less than 3 grams has been noted to have a much lesser impact on mTOR signalling, more than 3 grams appears to have diminishing returns. Leucine content is also the difference between a high quality protein vs. a low quality protein. Leucine content is also why something like whey protein is so anabolic (whey gets absorbed quickly and has that roughly 3 grams of leucine per 20-25 grams of protein, thus you are getting that leucine spike).

[quote]devoted wrote:

[quote]BlueCollarTr8n wrote:
What do you consider a mega-dose? [/quote]

Well, I don’t know much about these things, but as far as I have " researched " some athletes take for example as much as twenty and even more capsules per day, or some of them don’t even count the pills, they just get a fist full of them and swallow. The average does is supposed to be somewhat 2 capsules three times a day, so 6 a day. But as I said, I know little about supplementation, that’s why I’m asking.[/quote]

Whatever you decide, purchase the powder not in pill form.

Fwiw, this from Ben Pakulski’s Facebook page on April 30th…

 "Confused about BCAAs and dosing? 3-6gr of BCAAs BETWEEN meals and/or during/after training to stimulate protein synthesis. 

You DO NOT need to add leucine to BCAAs."

“Consume this all at once, and you can do it up to 3-4 times a day. You need 3g at a time to be effective.”

And, Jim Stoppani also endorses the supplementation of BCAA’s, recommending 5 g pre-workout…

“When most amino acids are ingested, either as individual amino acids or as whole proteins, they are absorbed by the intestines and shuttled straight to the liver. There the liver decides what to do with them before they go to the rest of the body. If the body needs more energy the liver will break them down for fuel rather than spare them to repair and build muscle and other tissue. The three BCAAs, on the other hand, tend to be spared by the liver and get direct access to tissues like muscle fibers. The muscle fibers then get to make the decision of what to do with the BCAAs based on their needs. During a workout, they can be used by the muscle fibers for fuel. After the workout is over, they can be used to build the muscle fibers up.”