BCAA supplement, worth it, or just hype?

  • Creator
  • #16932

    Looking at BCAA supplements like Gnarly and similar companies, the websites say they’re the greatest, but I’m skeptical. For everyday training, is it really beneficial to take a scoop of BCAAs after a workout, or do we get enough through eating normal high protein foods?

    I can see if you’re on a mountain for weeks the benefits of bringing the powder, but they’re pretty expensive for everyday training.

    I don’t doubt that athletes use powdered BCAAs, but they probably get them for free from sponsors.

    Any thoughts?

  • Participant
    Jan on #16934

    My thoughts on that: Taking BCAAs has not many advantages.
    If you want to use any amino acid supplementation, use whey protein. Cheaper and all essential amino acids in there (that includes BCAAs). My recommendation is the unflavoured Impact Whey Protein from MyProtein. At least here in Europe that is also often on sale and can then be the cheapest protein source out there.
    I don’t know if you get enough protein with your normal food, but especially for vegetarians it can be kind of a hassle to think about putting a good protein source in every meal. Protein powder is really convenient in that regard.
    The main benefit of whey protein is that it gets digested really fast, while the protein in a normal meal (or other protein shakes) will take more time to get to your muscles and start the repair process. If that is really that relevant after workouts seems to be up to debate (metabolic/anabolic window is the term to use for further research).
    I use whey protein at home, especially directly after workouts (you could also put some Maltodextrin as a quick carbohydrate source in that shake) and before I go to bed. I also mix some of it into my dinner when I’m in the mountains.
    I do have the feeling that it helps recovery, but wouldn’t swear on it.

    Rebecca Dent on #16992

    Hi Sandrock06,

    Im the dietician who’s teamed up with uphill athlete. In answer to your question there is no scientific evidence to support the use of BCAA post work out. Ive provided a link to a paper below that discusses the evidence; https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-017-0184-9.

    What research has found, is that you can get all of the required amino acids/protein for building muscle and repair from protein rich foods in your diet (as you highlighted). It is about making sure you are eating the daily total intake of protein in your diet and eating sufficient protein in each of meals, spread out through out the day i.e. 3-5 meals (approx. 3-4hrs apart) containing approx. 20-30g of protein (this simply translates into breakfast, lunch, evening meal, post work out/and or pre bed). The research is now showing this is more important than the post work out ‘window of opportunity’. I do advize BCAA potentially for on the mountain if total energy intake / protein requirements are not going to be met but not always, however if you were to take them avoid the powder as BCAA powder does not taste very nice so opt for tablets instead. If you are looking for a protein supplement to help top up your protein intake as a convenient method or easy way to meet your daily protein requirements then I would firstly suggest a box standard stand alone whey protein. This can be purchased in expensively from reputable companies such as myprotein or optimum nutrition.

    I hope that has answered your question?


    Zuko on #17020

    very helpful, thank you!

    shannonlouisedouglas on #53921

    Thanks Zuko for posing this question and Rebecca for supplying the article! I’m curious if this differs at all for those with Anemia? I’ve seen a number of articles out there arguing such but can’t tell if it’s just hype.

    Thanks much!

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