BCAAs During Bulking – Do you Need Them???

Short answer? No – not if you’re eating enough food and protein.

Longer answer? Extra leucine is almost never a bad thing.

The following information came via an email exchange between myself and Jed Hodge over at Hodge Fitness in Oahu, HI. It was too good to not let anyone else see it.

I mentioned that it’s a no-brainer to take BCAAs when dieting down / losing weight. The branched-chain amino acids (Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine) help preserve muscle mass and keep you anabolic, even when you’re at a caloric deficit.

But when bulking up, if you keep plenty of protein in your system throughout the day, is it really necessary to take BCAAs? Jed uses them at all times, and I asked why*

Why do you use BCAAs During When Bulking?

From Jed:

For BCAA Theres a few reasons to use it regardless of bulking or dieting so here we go lol.

One thing I do regardless of what stage Im in is take them immediately upon waking to stop catabolic breakdown and also post workout for the same reason. When you sleep or just finish working out your GH [growth hormone] levels are high for about 30 minutes then start to drop. Now if you wake up and down carbs first thing or drink a carb supplement right after training then you cut the GH off due to insulin release. If you use the BCAA to stop the catabolism and wait 20-30min before ingesting carbs then you are able to ride your high GH levels for another 30 minutes. Over time this will help you gain mass and lean out. I’ve seen it happen.

Another reason to take BCAA during these times of day is to stop the breakdown before you do your pre-breakfast or post workout cardio. This will further insure that the fat stores are being used instead of muscle mass (considering you are in the proper target heart rate zone). Some of my clients in the military take extra servings when they are on watch late at night so they wont be forced to eat something that may hurt their progress.

A reason that Modern BCAA is so good is due to the amount of high quality leucine in there. Leucine is what triggers protein synthesis. Imagine your body having a factory that builds muscle. Well leucine would throw on the power switch, Then 20-30min later when you have your carbs and protein you just give the factory the materials needed to build muscle.

Now if you want the three vids on my youtube channel labeled fat loss challenge week 1,2, and 3 I talk about all of this and explain how the BCAA product maintained my muscle mass when I put my body into overdrive to get from 13% to 7% in three weeks. I only lost a few pounds too. That along with keeping my strength if not getting stronger proved to me that Modern BCAA is the best choice when choosing a BCAA product.

(emphasis mine)

What do you think? I’m not currently doing this, but might toss some money towards more BCAA and give it a go.

The Videos

Interesting Studies

I’m honestly having a tough time finding a study that proves this. My search is clouded by the fact that most studies are on growth hormone injections, which we’re not at all interested in here. But see these two studies:

* Leucine, and the BCAAs, are something you CANNOT GET ENOUGH OF. We’ll take it anywhere. Neither Jed nor I are rich by any means. So when you’re bulking on a budget, you have to make some financial decisions. Jed’s decision includes BCAAs during bulks. If we were millionaires, we wouldn’t be having this conversation — we’d just be sipping the stuff all day long and not even thinking twice.

About the Author: Mike Roberto

Mike Roberto

Mike Roberto is a research scientist and water sports athlete who founded PricePlow. He is an n=1 diet experimenter with extensive experience in supplementation and dietary modification, whose personal expertise stems from several experiments done on himself while sharing lab tests.

Mike's goal is to bridge the gap between nutritional research scientists and non-academics who seek to better their health in a system that has catastrophically failed the public.

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