Branched chain amino acids: Can BCAAs help to build muscle at the gym?

Branched chain amino acids: Can consuming BCAAs help to build muscle at the gym? We asked a leading sports scientist for his take

BCAA gym
BCAAs are available in both tablet and powder form Photo: mathrong/Flickr

Sports scientist and 9BAR ambassador Greg Whyte discusses the possible benefits of consuming branched chain amino acids (BCAA) around gym workouts to help maintain and support muscle growth.

Greg says: Branched chain amino acids are essential amino acids which contain a 2:1:1 ratio of Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine, which are essential (i.e. must be consumed).

During workouts we increase the breakdown of muscle (termed catabolism) and in order to maintain muscle mass we must ensure this is balanced with muscle rebuilding (protein synthesis).

To increase muscle mass we need to be in a positive protein balance (i.e. greater synthesis than catabolism).

The equation to think about is this:

Muscle mass = rate of protein synthesis – rate of protein breakdown.

Increasing consumption of protein such as BCAAs can support synthesis and create a positive protein balance.

When should you consume protein? There is much debate on the subject of whether we should consume pre-, during, or post-exercise. In general, it will come down to personal preference as long as you consume proteins close to exercise.

About the author: Greg Whyte competed in two Olympic Games and is a European and World Championship medalist. With an MSc in Human Performance and a PhD completed at London’s St. Georges Hospital Medical School, he is most recently known for his involvement in Comic Relief where he assisted various celebrities in challenges, including Davina McCall who he trained for her ‘Beyond Breaking Point’ 506 mile ultra-triathlon.

To find out more about the new 9BAR range, visit www.9bar.com.

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