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BCAA supplementation

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I have been reading up a bit on BCAA supplements to support weight lifting recovery, protein synthesis, longevity, etc:




Does anyone have any experience/info in this area? I was thinking specifically of using them for fasted workouts to avoid losing muscle. 



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nmonaco, I'm surprised that, in the article you cite, among the benefits of BCAAs there is not resurrection of the dead. It really sounds like a miracle supplement which everyone should use as much as possible.

Actually, It's quite evident that it is mostly commercial hype, in fact it ends with a typical ad blurb and an ad to a BCAAs brand. You know the prize of a box of BCAAs, and can understand the big bucks which are concealed behind all the purported benefits. Researchers are sponsored by manufacturers and not always they disclose such interests.


The above being said,  I can give you 3 references from medical doctors presumably without interests and all with an interest in longevity:


  1. Dr. Peter Attia, well known practitioner who runs a practice in longevity enhancement: 3 to 5 grams of Leucine during workouts are good
  2. Dr. Ongaro, an anti-aging practitioner pretty well known in Italy. He has worked in astronauts rehab (they develop sarcopenia). BCAAs are good before workout 
  3. Dr Fontana and Dr Berrino (very well known longevity researcher the former, well known Italian cancer prevention specialist in Italy): BCAAs are dangerous since they can chronically amplify mTOR activity in the system and enhance cancer cell growth.

My take is that, used with discrimination, they probably won't hurt, especially so if used only during workouts and by a CR practitioner like yourself.

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HAhaha! Resurrection of the dead is funny. :Dxyz

Thank you again for your input and for citing credible sources. And also thank you for summarizing - so much conflicting stuff out there - It is wonderful having someone as knowledgeable as you as an ally in this journey.

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I would urge against the use of BCAA supplements, particularly for people pursuing life extension, and particularly for people practicing CR: see my previous comments on BCAAs, particularly leucine (see this and this for more recent studies on health effects of high intake of leucine; we were discussing this study and this one). There is also this study, although its results are not as dramatic as the abstract suggests.


Additionally, the athletic benefits of BCAAs are greatly exaggerated, particularly if you're consuming them in the context of a workout proximal to a meal with a decent shot of high-quality protein: see eg. here, here, here, and here.

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Michael, my premise is that I absolutely agree on the big bucks concealed behind all the use of BCAAs. They are sure expensive and their regular use is a golden mine for the produces, the Japanes Ajimoto company in particular. I also believe that many articles on the benifts of BCAAs, even if the conflict of interest is not explicitly reported, carry concealed conflicts. This has been hinted at in one of the reports you linked (Re. Alan Aragon). When there is so much money around, researchers may be tempted to cash in from the manufacturer and NOT disclose it under back-of-the-stage agreemenst. That's human nature 101.


The rationale for the use of BCAAs, beyond fasted training (and that should be useful to nmonaco who intends to train fasted), is that the muscles, especially during an intense workout, act as an efficient leucine sink, absorbing the spike in leucine after ingestion and hopefully not affecting the other organs too much. the leucine is soon expelled in urine and does not linger around the system, risking interception by other organs.


I have no literature on that, only a verbal description of this framework given by Peter Attia during his interview with rhonda Patrick. Youtube link which I cannot acceed to now. 


Now, that appears like a Faustian bargain. Should we use BCAAs to enhance MPS, with some caution, reaping the benefits of more muscle mass, but risking an interception by other organs like prostate, with ensuing higher risk of PCa ?


I'm tempted to answer: only if the game is worth it. That is, if we suffer sarcopenia, if we are careful in the use of BCAAs (only during intense workouts), if we train in a fasted state, and so on.


Personally, I bought a box of BCAAs, took them 3 times, then I discontinued their use since  I believe my workouts are not so intense to imply a significant signal to the mechanoreceptors and activate the PIPK3-akt side of the mTOR cascade; in a few words, the amplified leucine signal would be wasted.


Also, to be honest I do not accept the Faustian bargain. I choose to ignore the devil's temptation and go on with my modest gains or no gains. Luckily, I don't suffer sarcopenia yet. What I'm doing is just adding pea powder to my vegan muesli after workouts.

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