What is better to consume during training BCAA or protein? Read below.
Recently, there has been an increasing trend to consume branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) during training, and the reasons for this are multiple. Thus e.g. BCAAs are easily digested and get into your muscles quickly, thus preventing them from breaking down. In addition, they are usually flavored and are a more attractive and tasty way to hydrate than plain water.
BCAA consists of three essential amino acids (EAA): leucine , isoleucine and valine. Of these three, leucine has been shown to be the amino acid that has the greatest effect on muscle building and recovery. So BCAAs are more than an obvious choice if we want to build muscle, right? Maybe not really.
There is evidence to suggest that protein synthesis is driven by factors other than leucine-rich BCAAs , and that choosing a complete protein (a protein containing all 9 essential amino acids) could be a better choice. .
Understanding the role of leucine
In a study of rats published in The FASEB Journal, researchers observed increased levels of leucine in the blood after protein synthesis stopped and returned to normal. If muscle building stops while there is still leucine in the blood, then this indicates that maximal protein synthesis is affected by factors other than leucine.
Creating optimal protein synthesis is an energy-intensive process. And while leucine has been shown to optimize the peak of muscle building, maintaining it may not be the best. In other words, leucine is a great trigger / driver for protein synthesis, but not for maintaining it, which can be a problem during longer workouts, after all, you want protein synthesis to last as long as possible.
Choose a better protein
Studies conducted on rats and humans have shown that muscles can make better use of "intact" leucine (the type of leucine found in protein powders) than leucine in free form (the one found in BCAAs). This study suggests that protein should provide greater protein synthesis than BCAA .
In a similar study, the elderly received either essential amino acids (EAAs) or a protein that contained identical amounts of EAAs. At the end of the study, it was shown that people who received protein had a higher protein balance. But why?
Looking behind leucine
Dr. Mike Roberts and his team from the Laboratory for Molecular and Applied Sciences at the University of Auburn conducted preliminary research on the role of other bioactive components in protein and their stimulation of protein synthesis. The researchers specifically investigated "protein exosomes".
Exosomes are nanoparticles found in blood, saliva and other body fluids. Their role in the body is to carry protein and other compounds through the body. Using a sophisticated methodology, Roberts' team found that these nanoparticles have a particularly positive effect on protein synthesis.
Make smart choices
To date, there are not enough definitive studies to confirm and say that a fast-absorbing protein is superior to BCAA-only supplements. However, most research is leaning in that direction. If you want to maximize muscle growth or maintain your existing muscle mass, it seems like a smart choice is protein.