Posted on Jul 19, 2017, 3 p.m.
Research shows that taking branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplements in isolation does not optimize muscle growth.
Researchers from the University of Stirling have determined supplements designed to build muscles, referred to as branched-chain amino acids (BCAA), are not effective when taken alone. The study was comprised of weightlifters who took the supplement in a dose equal to 20 grams worth of whey protein following resistance training. The study was conducted with assistance from academicians at the University of Birmingham and the University of Exeter. The results were recently published in the journal Frontiers in Physiology.
The results show that branched-chain amino acid supplements stimulate the muscle building responses in people following the lifting of weights yet other muscle-building supplements are vastly superior. Such supplements contain the vitally important amino acids that trigger more significant muscle growth response. This suggests taking branched-chain amino acids supplements by themselves is not the ideal means of optimizing muscle growth in combination with weight training.
The scientists also studied how effective supplements were in terms of stimulating the machinery within muscles themselves that lead to muscle growth. They determined that branched-chain amino acid drinks trigger the body's natural muscle building systems. However, the research group also determined these drinks lack certain essential amino acids that are important to support maximum muscle growth responses.
Amino Acid Building Blocks
University of Stirling Professor Kevin Tipton states that amino acids serve as protein building blocks. He also states that branch-chain amino acids trigger muscle growth response. Such supplements are considered to be a critically important component of bodybuilders' nutrition plans as well as those of weightlifters and other individuals in search of a means to build muscle.
A Closer Look at the Findings
The results indicate taking branched-chain amino acid supplements by themselves will trigger the synthesis of muscle proteins. This is the metabolic means that spurs muscle growth. Yet such supplements do not trigger an optimal response, as branched-chain amino acid supplements do not provide other critically important amino acids for the best possible result. A certain amount of the full range of amino acids is necessary in order for optimal muscle building after exercise.
Those who are interested in building muscle with training should not strictly rely on branched-chain amino acids. The branched-chain amino acid supplement moderately boosted the muscle growth response compared to the placebo. Yet the muscle's response more than doubled when a whey protein supplement loaded with the same amount of branched-chain amino acids that included additional acids was consumed.
Sarah R. Jackman, Oliver C. Witard, Andrew Philp, Gareth A. Wallis, Keith Baar, Kevin D. Tipton. Branched-Chain Amino Acid Ingestion Stimulates Muscle Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis following Resistance Exercise in Humans. Frontiers in Physiology, 2017; 8 DOI: 10.3389/fphys.2017.00390