The world of Sports Nutrition exists as an interesting juxtaposition, on the surface it appears to shine with an ultra neon glow with all the outward appearances of a highly professional modern industry.

However despite this 21 century veneer it has far more in common with the unbridled lawlessness of the Wild West, with countless companies making bold fallacious claims of the efficacy of their respective products. This slightly scathing introduction may imply I’m anti supplementation; this is not the case but I am anti exploitation of deep rooted highly emotive and personal aspects of this industry. Without a shadow of doubt the most targeted area of this market is sports nutrition, with a whole host of products springing up from the wood work. Pre, during and post workout supplements have become the hot topic and are among the most popular areas targeted as we are all naturally looking to gain that extra edge from our hard pressed efforts in the gym. In this article I’m going to explore a small part of the mind field that is training supplementation. The topic I would like to briefly dissect is the subject of Branch Chain Amino Acid supplementation during workouts.

With regards to BCAA use there are two distinct groups; those that champion them whole heartedly and make bold claims about there efficacy and those that feel they are over hyped and have little to no benefit. All though there is certainly data on each side to make effective arguments we personally feel that with our clients, who are in the majority working professionals, benefit greatly from the extra intake of quality amino acids as some struggle to hit their standard protein targets. This increase in macro nutrient consumption is not the only benefit. With their real place as an effective workout supplement lying in their Insulinogenic and anti catabolic properties along side potent fatigue fighting attributes.

What are BCAA’s?

Branch Chain Amino Acids are a specifically shaped set of 3 essential Amino Acids called L-Leucine, L-Isoleucine and L-Valine used to form 35% of the protein found in the muscles. The term “essential” is used to group amino acids which the body cannot produce of its own volition. These specific acids are used primarily as Nitrogen carriers enabling the body to initiate Protein synthesis where a complex string of 21 different Amino acids are combined to form a range of tissues. However, most applicable to our aims is the formation of that important muscle tissue.

BCCA Benefit 1: Closing the Catabolic Window

During intense weight training the body is placed under immense biological stress. With the need to produce energy substrates being the body’s overriding imperative, if left unsupported will facilitate this action at the expense of Muscle tissue by pulling BCAA’s from the muscle stores and inhibiting protein synthesis. This Catabolic effect (break down) can be obverted by consuming BCAA’s during training as they will initiate Insulin production, which will one lower the levels of the catabolic stress hormone Cortisol, and two drive the necessary amino acids into the muscle cell facilitating protein synthesis.

BCAA Benefit 2: Fighting Mental Fatigue

Other performance boosting factors of Branch Chain Amino Acid Supplementation are the ability to block the release of the Amino Acid Tryptophan from the muscle cell during training. When Tryptophan enters the blood stream it will breakdown into a compound which can stimulate the release of certain neurotransmitters able to cross the blood brain barrier resulting in nervous system fatigue. BCAA’s are therefore essential to address this generally over looked factor of training; mental performance.


P1040567Mirella Clark relies on Embody fitness BCAA’s to recover from her workouts in preparation for the WBFF World Championships in Las Vegas

The heavily media influenced supplement market can seem like a complicated web of conflicting information, yet when it comes to the topic of utilising BCAA’s it’s safe to surmise that they are a product well worthy of the investment. In simple terms they help you gain the absolute most from your workouts, aiding the growth of lean muscle tissue and increase workout performance. We feel so strongly on the topic that we have produced our own bespoke BCAA formula, designed to provide an optimum 4:1:1 Ratio of the Amino Acids Leucine, Isoleucine and Valine combined with an a Organic whole food activating base use to optimize nutrient absorption. It is this unique blend which makes our BCAA product one of the best on the market as it is L-Leucine which has the greatest capacity to increase lean muscle tissue. The standard 2:1:1 Ratio found in most other BCAA products simply dose not cut the mustard. For those looking to maximise the results of their hard fought efforts in the gym, adding BCAA’s to your training stack is one of the most pragmatic choices you can make.



Written by David Lewis

Embody Personal Trainer