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-   -   Thoughts on BCAA? (http://www.lowcarbfriends.com/bbs/vitamins-supplements/833298-thoughts-bcaa.html)

sbarr 06-09-2014 12:48 PM

Thoughts on BCAA?
Branch Chain Amino Acids

I've been thinking about the ratios of (fat/protein/carbs) in a ketogenic diet. There is a sub-forum for ketogenic plans, but I wanted to pose it here in the main lobby because of the broader readership.

For context, my daily intake:

~1400 calories (not a limit, but baseline to calculate the below nutrients assuming 75/20/5 ratios)
115 grams fat
70 grams protein
18 grams carbs

It's clear that we need to eat protein to support LBM - but, I'm not entirely sure of my true body fat level and corresponding LBM. When using a common macronutrient calculator, it suggests my body fat is about 45-46% based on gender, height and weight but my morning levels on the Tanita scale say lower (~ 40-42% at my morning weigh in which is skewed because of dehydration and it tends to be more like 33-36% later in the day).

I know the BCAA's are more popular among body builders, but wanted to know if any basic LC'ers are using them and feedback.

I consume on the lower end of protein for my body weight, keeping my fat high. Would it make sense to supplement with BCAA's if I thought my protein was a bit low if I'm not ready to up my protein levels? Over time, I suspect there will be minor loss of muscle, but I hope to retain as much muscle as possible while losing fat.

Trigger828 06-09-2014 02:27 PM

too much thinking :)
follow LC (more lower than high) and it works for most. SOME need diff. but MOST of us don't.

IT IS ALL ABOUT THE CARBS! and how they work the body.

KISS! we all know that!

grneyedldy 06-09-2014 05:23 PM

I have to disagree Trigger. I don't think it is just all about the carbs. I think it's about many other factors, many variables. Here are some......

Protein - quality, quantity
Fats - quality, quantity
Carbs - quality, quantity
Supplements - which ones and why
Personal health issues - including medications

I don't think it has to be complicated, but I surely think it's about more than just keeping the carbs low. I think that is an excellent starting point though.

As to the topic of this thread. I'm sorry Sbarr I have never heard of it, but now I'm curious. I learn so much on this forum.

maximumdensity 06-09-2014 09:41 PM

I think I'm about to learn something....BCAA hmmm a term I have not heard.

I don't know about brain chain but are not eggs a complete source of amino acids??

watcher513 06-11-2014 02:15 AM

BCAA's are in some protein powders, whey specifically, that I've seen.

KetoWarrior 06-11-2014 04:12 AM


Weightlifter here checking in. Honestly, unless you are weightlifting, there is no reason to take BCAA's.

As I'm sure you are aware, protein is made up of amino acids. Now, there are a lot of different amino acids in protein (I thought it was 16, just looked, it's 20) -- and these amino acids are the "building blocks of life" that your body uses to synthesize new tissue.

BCAA's are only 3 of the amino acids -- Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine. While they may have some therapeutic use outside of weightlifting, the main reason you would want to take them is -- they are almost immediately available to your body to use. This is why you take them DURING your weightlifting workout, so that your body has something to start working with (and why you follow up weightlifting with a fast acting liquid protein, usually whey, because it's useable by your body relatively quickly). Compare that to food, it takes hours for your body to digest and break down that food into amino acids (but you'll be getting the full gamut of amino acids -- all 20).

Leucine IS the most anabolic amino acid though, and taking leucine can straight up tell your body to become anabolic (preserve/build muscle). So if you think your protein is too low, there IS that. However, BCAA's aren't cheap, and I think you'd be better served eating a bit more protein if you think it's too low. If you're worried about calories, this is the one time you can choose *lean* protein sources so that you don't up your fat/calorie intake. (YES, I know it's high fat/moderate protein/low carb, but there ARE instances where you JUST want to add protein, and not fat, and this could be one of them for Sbarr.)

Hope that helps! :)

sbarr 06-11-2014 04:42 AM

Thank you, KetoWarrior. This was very helpful and educational. My weightlifting is very basic.

:welcome: to the site - I see you're new and will look forward to your other posts.

Your stats look great!

maximumdensity 06-11-2014 09:09 AM

:goodpost: great even, very informative

KetoWarrior 06-11-2014 09:13 PM


Originally Posted by sbarr (Post 16940012)
Thank you, KetoWarrior. This was very helpful and educational. My weightlifting is very basic.

:welcome: to the site - I see you're new and will look forward to your other posts.

Your stats look great!


Originally Posted by maximumdensity (Post 16940337)
:goodpost: great even, very informative

Thanks to both of you, glad I could help! :) I actually wrote that out at the end of my night last night, was very tired, so would like to expand upon it a bit further if you don't mind?

sbarr, the main reason to take BCAA's is to tell your body NOT to go into a catabolic state, breaking down other muscle tissue to start repairing the damage you are doing to muscles you are working while exercising. It's sort of like the "extra" step though, an "advanced" thing to worry about. Ideally, you should have good pre-workout nutrition, and good post-workout nutrition FIRST. If you have those things down, and want to go the extra mile, that's when you'd introduce BCAA's!

They can also be used if you are lifting on an empty, or near empty stomach!

For instance, my weightlifting is done shortly after I wake up. About 1 hour before I start my workout, my pre-workout nutrition consists of 1 ounce of pecans, and 1 full scoop of protein powder (used to be 1/2, bumped it up and saw no appreciable decrease in weight loss, so figured the extra was fine!). This gives me something solid (the nuts) along with a good source of fat, and then gives my body some protein to start working with.

Then, I consume a BCAA drink during my weightfliting workout, for the reasons mentioned above! I don't want my body to go into a catabolic state, and I'm working on an empty to near-empty stomach! (no food the whole time I was sleeping and since I woke up except for the pecans/protein an hour beforehand.)

After my workout, the most *critical* time, I have 1.5 scoops of protein powder -- I want a FAST acting source of protein here so my body can start the repair and building process quickly! (I've broken this down into a half scoop as soon as I'm done at the gym out in my car, and then a full scoop when I get home about 15 minutes later) Within an hour of that, I eat my first "full" meal of breakfast. That's pretty much the ideal way to do it -- fast acting liquid protein after your workout, and then a good protein centered whole food meal within 2 hours after your workout, but the sooner the better!

That all being said, I do sometimes take the BCAA's when I'm not working out. Today for instance, I woke up about 3pm (hey, I work nights!) and knew I wasn't going to have my first meal until late, but I wanted to get my walking in first. So I mixed up a BCAA drink and sipped on that while out walking, and then got home and made breakfast. I didn't want my body going into a catabolic state while doing my exercise, I'm trying to BUILD muscle here! :)

I can get long-winded at times, so that's all to say -- if you ARE weightlifting, then you *might* want to take them, assuming you have good pre and post nutrition in place first! :)

watcher513 06-12-2014 02:49 AM

Great information Keto Warrior, Thank you!

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