BCAA + Whey Protein = Extra Muscle Gains
Posted on March 14 2019
By now, we are already aware of the crucial role Whey Protein and BCAAs play in muscle protein synthesis and in building solid muscle mass.
What is pretty confusing for us is to decide whether BCAAs are required to be combined with Whey, when Whey already has enough BCAA and how do we benefit if we do so?
Before getting a straight cut answer to this question, let’s first know how BCAAs help our muscles.
BCAA - The Essential Amino Acids
BCAAs are the Branched Chain Amino Acids comprising of leucine, isoleucine and valine. They are 3 of the 9 essential amino acids that comprise 35% of our muscle protein.
Out of the 3 amino acids, leucine is the most potent amino acid that has been found to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. Muscle Protein Synthesis is nothing but the building of muscle protein from amino acids.
1. Leucine helps preserve the muscle glycogen stores and minimize the protein breakdown during exercise. Since glycogen is the primary source of energy your muscle use, abundant glycogen stores keep your body from breaking down muscle protein for energy.
2. Isoleucine plays a great role as an anticatabolic agent and helps in faster recovery.
3. During intense exercise, tryptophan is taken up by the brain and converted into serotonin. Serotonin induces fatigue and makes you feel sluggish. Valine prevents tryptophan from being taken up by the brain and prevents fatigue during the workout.
Most importantly, BCAAs lower the cortisol levels during the workout. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone that increases muscle breakdown and interferes with testosterone production. BCAAs help to keep the cortisol level low and enhance muscle growth.
Can We Combine BCAA and Whey Protein?
Yes, you can definitely combine BCAA and Whey Protein together for maximum muscle gains. You already got the answer you were looking for!
While Whey Protein is considered to be one of the richest sources of BCAAs, it’s common for us to think both BCAAs and Whey Protein do the same thing. Although this is partly true, boosting your Whey intake with BCAAs can provide additional support.
Normally, all Whey supplements provide leucine, isoleucine and valine in the ratio 2:1:1 per serving. So, it would take about a scoop (30g) of Whey to get enough leucine.
Simply Consuming More Whey Protein Will Not Give You the Maximum BCAA Benefits
Taking BCAAs gets them to muscles even faster than the BCAAs from the Whey. Although Whey is a relatively fast digesting protein and contains the BCAAs your body needs, the BCAAs in Whey are bound to other amino acids through peptide bonds and it takes several hours for the amino acids to be broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream. Moreover, BCAAs in Whey are processed through the liver, so there is a delay for them to get digested and absorbed into the bloodstream and to get the results you want.
As a contrary, BCAAs in BCAA supplements give faster results as they are being processed in our skeletal muscle system. The BCAAs are not bound to other amino acids like they are in Whey Protein. They are in free-form, require no digestion, so are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, which makes them faster to impact protein synthesis.
In this sense, 5g of free-form BCAAs will spike BCAA plasma levels way more than 30g of Whey Protein.
When you consume BCAAs together with Whey, BCAAs help to get leucine to the muscles as soon as possible to kick start muscle protein synthesis and then when the aminos from Whey show up after, they are put to use for building the actual muscle protein synthesis that leads to bigger muscle mass.
If you’re adhering to supplements for optimal gains, Whey would be sufficient. Combine it with BCAA if your goal is gain extra muscle mass…
Also read: Peanut Butter - The Powerhouse Of Protein
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