This is why it’s important to stay current with research, as well as to learn how to read studies and see flaws in them. There are lots of things I recommended to clients a couple years ago that I’ve made a 180 on. I will say the one reason I’ll still sometimes suggest BCAAs is if I know a client isn’t getting enough protein and they don’t like drinking protein shakes.
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Here’s a powerpoint slide from my talk on supplements, where I discuss how BCAA supps are nothing more than expensive, redundant calories.
The high-quality proteins in our diets are comprised of roughly 18-26% BCAA as it is. Supplementing with extra BCAA on top of that can range from adding extra unnecessary calories (and metabolic burden), to potentially inhibiting optimal use of ingested amino acids.
It's LOL to supp with BCAA to begin with, instead of an intact, high-quality protein such as whey, which provides the rest of the EAAs as well as other co-factors for anabolism. But it’s all moot if you're getting enough total daily protein anyway. Protein intake for the primary goal of muscle growth is optimized at 1.6-2.2 g/kg (0.7-1.0 g/lb).
All of the BCAA supplementation research compares BCAA with a non-nitrogenous placebo, or nothing at all. None of the studies - including studies on muscle soreness - compare BCAA with an isocaloric dose of protein (let alone doing that within a protein-optimized diet). I scoured the literature and found that the studies showing no effects outnumber the studies showing positive effects (on body comp and/or exercise performance) by 2 to 1. Bottom line: BCAAs are a bad bet.
The claim that BCAA supplementation is crucial for vegans is misleading as well. The essential amino acids (EAAs) whose bioavailability is most commonly affected by vegan diets include methionine, tryptophan, phenylalanine, lysine, and threonine. So, for this population, it’s about achieving overall completeness, not just BCAA.