BCAAs & Fat Loss
Aside from the website itself, this was an interesting bit of information that may help those who struggle with stagnation in their fat loss attempts
Stimulation of Leptin Expression through mTOR Activation in Adipocytes
Intake of leucine stimulates expression of the hormone leptin in adipocytes (the primary site of leptin secretion) through activation of the mTOR pathway (Meijer and Dubbelhuis, 2003). Leptin is a very complicated hormone; the gist of it is involved in the regulation of metabolism, body weight, and appetite.
Leptin secretion is linked with body fat levels; higher body fat is associated with higher leptin secretion and lower body fat is associated with lower leptin levels. When you diet and lose fat, the amount of leptin you secrete decreases, which makes your body "crave" food in an attempt to bring your body fat level back up to where the body is comfortable (known as the body fat "set point").
Leucine has the ability to activate leptin expression and will cause the body to think it is "fed" or receiving "adequate" calories, which will keep things running (specifically your metabolism) smoothly.
I'd be interested to hear people's thoughts on the matter. It would seem that by keeping calories low and supplementng w/ extra BCAAs would help continue the fat loss process without that pesky Leptin getting in the way. I would assume this is why the V-Diet calls for extra Leucine supplementation in all their shakes throughout the day.
The V-Diet calls for extra leucine because Biotest is in the business of selling supplements.
I am pretty torn when it comes to BCAA supplementation. If one is getting adequate protein, they should be getting plenty of them. There's a good amount in whey protein on its own.
I think that one can get around problems with leptin and the other hormones of bodyweight regulation by high carb refeeds, which would also boost performance in the short term due to replenished glycogen stores.
In short, I'm not a huge fan.
I can't see why BCAAs on a hypocaloric diet would inhibit fat loss.
The real issue in overweight people is the leptin resistance, which forces the higher leptin levels (and leaves them feeling hungry all the time).
Since they are secreted by the fat cells, the more fat you lose...the less free floating blood leptin you should have. Also it should help to reduce leptin resistance as well (so will lower carb intakes).
Leptin and Insulin are 2 hormones which are in itself not evil, but when the resistance builds to them....that is the real danger.
I use BCAAs pre/during workout and don't do any kind of protein shake post (maybe a glass of milk at best and then a meal which will be higher in carbs). I've also used BCAAs to sip on during an IF day.
I can't say I have seen any negative effects from it.
He has many of his high level bodybuilders/figure models that he coaches using BCAAs more (and less whey) and has nothing but good things to say about the results from it.
Great feedback Mike.
I mentioned in another post that I use a BCAA+ Creatine Combo drink when cutting; however, it sounds like I can (or should) just use that year round and be diligent about the rest of my eating. It allows for more tasty whole foods too when there's an extra 200 calories to spare that I didn't waste on a protein shake.
However, would you argue that protein (even from sites such as trueprotein that usually have better quality than commercial protein powders) are not worth it?
- IMO most people looking for muscle gain probably eat more protein than they actually can use for protein synthesis (and raise protein oxidation in the process). An "average" active person probably only needs 0.6-0.8g protein max/lb lean mass (higher that average training may aim for 0.8-1.0g/lean lb). Those that say they do better on 2x BW protein, may just be needing the extra calories in the first place (or have super genetics for more protein synthesis). Your body can only do so much protein synthesis upregulated by working out (and drugs), excess protein will just be burned up.
- Milk out-performs Whey across the board for all day protein synthesis, as you want the slow and steady release (take BCAAs pre/during workout to get the inital spike in synthesis if you are looking for that).
- If you need a bit of extra protein from a powder (because you just won't eat that much in whole foods), then sub in a whole milk/1 scoop whey-casein mix a couple times/day as needed. Add in extra fat if you need calories. I wouldn't waste money on high priced whey, as it oxidizes quicker than casein anyways (and you don't need 2-3 scoops at once to spike synthesis, as it will just level down and do less later on when looking at the 24hr picture when compared to casein/slow releasing proteins)
- I don't think setting the body up for chronic high protein oxidation (with high protein intake esp from Whey) is a good idea....as it will continue high oxidation on days you are not eating that high in protein until it adapts to the lower level (which could be a period of 7-14 days). Higher protein works for cutting, but for gaining it may be counter productive.
- I'm sure like most everything, cycling on and off may help to increase utilization and sensitivity. I naturally get breaks from BCAA when I run out and am in no rush to go buy more...but that's just my lazy ass.
- Added benefits to sipping BCAAs during a day is for an anti-cortisol effect as well (or so I have been lead to believe via workout studies and amino acid intake vs cortisol lowering).
- Controlling stress/cortisol/inflammation is a bigger key issue that many ignore, as it will all lower protein synthesis. Worrying about how much protein when one's lifestyle is a mess will not add up to much results (except wasting money on more protein).
Take all above with grain assault as I'm not a bodybuilder....nor train or eat like one, but I have kept my protein intake lower (@130-150g/day) and still been able to gain slow and steady lean mass.
Thanks for the insight Mike.
I'm more concerned about this issue from a cutting or performance standpoint. I'll be trying to shed some body fat over the next 3-4 weeks after which I'll eat for performance. As a whole, it sounds like NO ONE can stay on low cal for a significant period of time if performance is of any importance to them. Seems like the BCAAs would help w/ Leptin; however, not to the extent that refeeds can. We'll find out after I finish a refeed today and go back to high fat, high protein.
Funny how one can be brainwashed w/ two common misconceptions: carbs have no place in fat loss (too much emphasis on hormones, not as much on caloric intake) & supplements cure all (look to the diet first!)
Yeah from a fat loss perspective, low carb/mod protein/mod fat is just easier to do. Eat a bit more protein than you "need" but it also keeps you feeling fuller in a low calorie state. I add some starchy carbs after workouts....others just do refeeds on weekends (ala Body Opus). Training volume will need to come down a bit.
In the end....we all just find what works for us.
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