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BCAAs - How, When, and Why?

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  • BCAAs - How, When, and Why?

    I'm a 125-ish pound female who's struggling to eat enough protein. I've been primal for 2 years without seeing a difference in weight or inches. I've been working out during this time, and have started lifting heavier in the last few months. I do have some muscle, but I'm not seeing the change in body composition that I'd like. I keep seeing BCAAs mentioned as something to help those who don't get enough protein. I picked some up. The bottle says to take 4 capsules 3 times a day - between meals, immediately after exercise, or before bed. This seems like a LOT. I'm assuming this is geared toward bodybuilders. Can (Should) I take less and still see some results? I thought you were supposed to take them before working out. (I work out in the mornings, fasted.) Are there any side effects? I'd love to hear from anyone who has tried them. Thanks!

  • #2
    I've been using them pre-workout for several months (as I also workout fasted) and I do think they've helped me in the muscle-building/fat-burning department. I don't think there's any benefit to popping them throughout the day.

    If you need more protein, first try to eat more meat, eggs, or high-protein dairy like greek yogurt or cottage cheese. If you can't stomach any more whole-food sources of protein, whey protein is a much better (and cheaper) supplement than BCAAs would be.

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    • #3
      If you still can, I would return that and get it in powder form. It's easier to intake more of it by gulping it down than by popping pills.

      That being said, I'd definitely try to get protein from food instead. Eggs are your friends, all I eat lately is eggs and meat of all kinds so I'm not at all worried about protein. I realize not everybody is the same, but if you got space for veggies it's cus you're not eating enough meat/eggs.

      This post is only 50% facetious.
      I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.

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      • #4
        If you are lifting heavy and not gaining any muscle, you need to: 1) lift heavier and or 2) eat more food, including more meat. Those supplements, though marketed as necessary, are really for the hardcore body-building types and are NOT needed for muscle gain. Your first focus should be eating more real food protein sources though, and maybe a scoop of whey powder if needed, before turning to the complicated supps.
        If you are new to the PB - please ignore ALL of this stuff, until you've read the book, or at least http://www.marksdailyapple.com/primal-blueprint-101/ and this (personal fave): http://www.archevore.com/get-started/

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        • #5
          BCAA's can help with fat loss - by helping create a hypo-caloric state - and prevent muscle wasting - by maintaining amino acids in the blood stream for uptake.

          The second reason is the main one, as most people can't comfortably down a hunk of meat and go workout right away. They're also useful to keep you in a fasted state, that's why they say to take before you go to bed.
          I didn't like the rules you gave me, so I made some of my own.

          Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general. - Mark Rippetoe

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          • #6
            Here's a typical day's food for me: 4 eggs w/green pepper, onion, and cheddar, 1/4 lb. grass-fed burger, meat and veggies for dinner (not really sure how many ounces, but aiming for 4), maybe some Greek yogurt. Lately I've been adding a Primal Fuel shake w/almond milk and a raw egg. I usually have to force myself to eat the burger between "breakfast" (at 12:30) and dinner. It just doesn't seem right to eat when I'm not hungry.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by JenCat View Post
              Here's a typical day's food for me: 4 eggs w/green pepper, onion, and cheddar, 1/4 lb. grass-fed burger, meat and veggies for dinner (not really sure how many ounces, but aiming for 4), maybe some Greek yogurt. Lately I've been adding a Primal Fuel shake w/almond milk and a raw egg. I usually have to force myself to eat the burger between "breakfast" (at 12:30) and dinner. It just doesn't seem right to eat when I'm not hungry.
              Add something to your breakfast, maybe chicken or good sausage, ditch the cheddar it's sitting in the place that meat called ahead to reserve. It's curious you're not hungry to eat the beef but you can down a shake no problem. Perhaps your burgers aren't tasty enough to make you want to eat them so it feels like a chore, do something different for that. Chicken with some bacon, or some type of fish, open up a can of tuna/mackarel/sardines, etc.. not daily, obviously, but as dictated by taste.
              I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.

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              • #8
                The shake is a problem, too, actually. I force myself to drink it in the evening. Almost never want it. I cut out the bacon with breakfast in an attempt to leave more room for protein. (LOVE bacon, but was finding not the best source of protein for the space it takes up in my belly!) I do sometimes cook up some chicken thighs, instead of the burger. The burger tastes good - great, actually - I'm just not hungry for it. Activity level may play a role in the appetite. Today I added in some work with the WaveMaster. Lifting today was primarily lower body and back, so I got in some intervals and worked my arms. As the weather improves, it will lead to more outdoor activities.

                I guess my real question is: do BCAAs actually work? (I know there's going to be differing opinions on this one) And Would 125 lb. person take as much as a 200 lb. body builder? It's all a grand experiment!

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                • #9
                  You could try to find some good breakfast sausages, the people we get our pork from offer a 10lb box of sausage that's d-lish, I usually have 4 with my eggs. And I hate normal store breakfast sausage.
                  I didn't like the rules you gave me, so I made some of my own.

                  Strong people are harder to kill than weak people, and more useful in general. - Mark Rippetoe

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by JenCat View Post
                    The shake is a problem, too, actually. I force myself to drink it in the evening. Almost never want it. I cut out the bacon with breakfast in an attempt to leave more room for protein. (LOVE bacon, but was finding not the best source of protein for the space it takes up in my belly!) I do sometimes cook up some chicken thighs, instead of the burger. The burger tastes good - great, actually - I'm just not hungry for it. Activity level may play a role in the appetite. Today I added in some work with the WaveMaster. Lifting today was primarily lower body and back, so I got in some intervals and worked my arms. As the weather improves, it will lead to more outdoor activities.

                    I guess my real question is: do BCAAs actually work? (I know there's going to be differing opinions on this one) And Would 125 lb. person take as much as a 200 lb. body builder? It's all a grand experiment!
                    It really depends on how you look at it. I took it and have mixed feelings about it. I think I wanted it to work so I was "seeing" results and experiencing what the articles/studies/advertisement said I should. I have an itch to give it another go-round, but if I add too many variables to the experiment I'm currently doing (VLC eating with no carb refeeds) then I'll never know what helped in the end. Was it the BCAA, was it low carb? you see what I mean. I'm sorry I can't be of more assistance.
                    I used to seriously post here, now I prefer to troll.

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                    • #11
                      BBC iPlayer - Frontiers: Muscle Wastage

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by iniQuity View Post
                        It really depends on how you look at it. I took it and have mixed feelings about it. I think I wanted it to work so I was "seeing" results and experiencing what the articles/studies/advertisement said I should. I have an itch to give it another go-round, but if I add too many variables to the experiment I'm currently doing (VLC eating with no carb refeeds) then I'll never know what helped in the end. Was it the BCAA, was it low carb? you see what I mean. I'm sorry I can't be of more assistance.
                        That's okay. Your input is always welcome. I do know what you mean. This whole thing really is an experiment. It's tough to know which part is making the big difference. I'll just play around with it for a while. See what happens.

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                        • #13
                          Just a quick update on my "experiment." I have been taking BCAAs for about 2 1/2 weeks, I think. The recommended dosage is 4 tablets 3x/day. I started taking 2 twice a day. After a week, I upped it to 2 3x/day. It seems that I have more definition in my arms. Even when my arms are relaxed, I can see the shape of the muscles. Now, this could be all in my head. I have no actual proof of this, but I've caught my husband staring at my arms a couple of times. I have upped my weights on a few lifts during this time. I was able to bust out two set of 8 chins with just the toes of one foot on a chair. As I near the top, my foot is totally off the chair, and I lower slowly. (I used to be able to do chin-ups and pull-ups - thank P90X - but haven't done them in a while. This was my second attempt; the first did not go nearly as well.)

                          So, that's where I am. They do seem to be having some sort of positive effect. Perhaps I could get the same results by eating more protein; I don't know. It's hard for me to do that when: 1. I'm not that hungry and 2. I need to keep the calories somewhat under control. Anyway, my 2 cents on BCAAs.

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