Do you ever feel overwhelmed and confused while browsing the protein section at the health food store? Pea protein, whey protein isolate, pre- workout, post- workout, BCAA’s, creatine. Even I find myself spending a good thirty minutes in that isle of the store. What is all this stuff and do you really need it ?!
Lets start with BCAA’s.
Branched Chain Amino Acids are essential, meaning they are not made by the body but must be obtained from our foods such as meat, eggs or other protein sources. Typically, BCAA supplementation is not necessary unless there is a deficiency or as long as they are obtained through diet. However, there is evidence to support a BCAA supplementation for specific disease states and health goals.
There are other amino acids of course, (20 known to the genetic code), three of which are essential (and branched); leucine, isoleucine and valine. Yet, the key player in this game is leucine because this particular BCAA has been shown to support muscle protein synthesis, skeletal muscle and preserve muscle stores of glycogen as well as enhance muscle protein synthesis in the liver and muscle cells.
Simply put, leucine is important in maintaining healthy muscle function and status and supplementing with BCAA can help to maintain optimal status in the body to starve off a serum decline that happens during exercise and typically leads to fatigue.
Do we need to supplement?
SURE! A good protein powder will have the all the BCAA’s (at least 2000mg leucine), less than 5g sugar and no artificial sweeteners. I like the Vega Clean Protein, it is a pea protein but isn’t super chalky so it mixes great with almond milk and 1 scoop has 25g protein with only 1g sugar!
The ISSN suggests to combine your BCAA’s with a carb before, during and after exercise to help optimize performance and recovery. Protein supplements are a great way to meet increased needs required by athletes and those on high intensity training regimens.
Are you looking to boost lean muscle mass specifically?
Consider creatine monohydrate.
Creatine helps to support weight gain with no apparent side effect according to ISSN. It also supports high intensity exercise capability and capacity. You can also add carb plus protein to creatine supplement. Creatine is most often supplemented in a loading dose at about 0.3g/kg/day for at least 3 days followed by 3.5 g/day thereafter for maintenance.
**Bringing it home**
There is evidence to support BCAA and creatine supplementation for optimal performance health and maintenance of muscle tissue. So, if you are participating in high intensity exercise or weight training you may want to consider these options to add to your meal routine. Keep in mind, these are nutrients to supplement your eating pattern, not to replace any meal nor is it a substitute for hard work and a dedication to healthy nutritious lifestyle…
You gotta put in the work to get the gains!