Gym question: What does BCAA do

Discussion in 'The Guru's Pub' started by proFits, Mar 2, 2009.

  1. proFits

    proFits Ancient Guru

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    Hey guys, like everyone else asking questions about the gym I know this is probably the wrongest place to do so but still

    So basically I take protein powder shakes and good meals as well as a good workout at the gym (weights[mostly dumbells recently] training with some cardio) and I have the two guys that I work out with take BCAA, one takes it in powder in his shake before and after each workout, the other takes it as pills just before the workout

    Basically I've looked up on google and found little really hands-on experience testimony.

    The thing is those two knuckle heads are rarely right about their training diet and nutriments so I'm wondering what does the thing actually do, should it be really adding them ''more endurance'' when doing their exercises or is it something completely different



    Oh and FYI BCAA is Branched-chain amino acids for the ones that don't know what I'm refering to
     
  2. Skiddywinks

    Skiddywinks Ancient Guru

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    Protein shakes are the only useful supplements. And even then, only when hitting the gym for at least 10 hours a week.

    So long as you are well rested, well hydrated and well nourished, there is very little you can do extra. The protein shake is for the people that do not have the mass of some larger meat heads, but still need the protein for muscle development. They can just wolf down a few steaks and gain the benefits, but most people would be taking in too many calories, which would be very unhelpful to say the least.
     
  3. proFits

    proFits Ancient Guru

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    Well I do weight only 140 lbs with 5% body fat at 5 foot 9 inches and have a birds appetite (really don't eat much at all) and I been working out since somewhat 5 years (on and off) and have never GAINED a pound until I started taking shakes and now after a month and a half I've gained 3-5 pounds!
     
  4. Decane

    Decane Ancient Guru

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    BCAA is comprised of branced amino acids, generally considered beneficial for muscle recovery (although disputable).

    http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/bbinfo.php?page=AminoAcids
    http://www.bodybuilding.com/store/bcaa.html

    Start reading... :)

    IMO, all supplements aside from vitamins are superfluous. If you're looking to build mass, you need to eat. A lot. Period. No amount of protein shakes will replace a good 400g steak with potatoes / macaroni. Also: I've been doing classic bodybuilding for roughly 6 months now, and I basically started off using a combination of carb / protein shakes. But, after 2 months of use, I quit. I then went another 2 months without any supplements, and amazingly enough, I noticed no difference whatsoever in muscle development during this time. So, for me, extra protein had no apparent effect whatsoever.

    Waste of money as far as I'm concerned.
     

  5. Skiddywinks

    Skiddywinks Ancient Guru

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    Yeh, that is great, but what were those 5 pounds made of? Any unburned protein is converted to fat, so unless you are definitely hitting the gym hard enough, it is unlikey to be muscle. In fact, the very fact that you did not notice anything strongly suggest that it did indeed mostly get converted in to fat.

    Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy method for getting a great body, being healthy and feeling powerful. The easiest way is to just have a few trips per week to the gym, do some cardio, lift some weights, and make sure you are eating healthily. A lot of people think they need to stop eating and go to the gym to get healthy. That will in fact make things much worse. All that needs to be done is cutting out the junk food, not all food.

    The most effective method though, requires a lot of thought, planning and research. I was going to suggest the Harris-Benedict formula to you, to estimate (quite accurately) how much energy you need to just exist. However, upon researching to find it again, I came across an apparently more accurate one.

    If you sub in the numbers, you will get the amount of energy (in kcal per day, as it says at the end) your body needs to survive and maintain muscle by just being alive. Depending on your activity levels, then pick a multiplier I have kindly found for you from below, and times by that. Don't lie to yourself, or you will only regret it.

    Now, that is how many calories you want per day. If you want to put on muscle, you will need that much energy. You should re-asses this number regularly (say, at least once a month if you are taking this gym business seriously) and plan accordingly. Unfortunately, you will have to start checking the nutritional information on things you eat. A pain, I know, but I do it and it does really help regulate your diet.

    You should look to intake (if I remember correctly, so don't quote me. Although I am fairly positive it is correct) a third of those calories as protein. Alternatively, a good amount of protein for fat loss and lean muscle gain is about 1 gram of protein for every pound of body weight, per day. Again, unfortunately, everybody is different, so it is worth experimenting with each to see which gives you the best results.
     
  6. Skiddywinks

    Skiddywinks Ancient Guru

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    Worth noting, is that this information is based on someone wanting to lose fat at a safe but not rapid rate, whilst adding muscle. It is the best balance between the two, because, unfortunately yet again, the body burns some muscle along with fat. So massive weight loss due to cardio often results in great loss of muscle mass (but obviously much increased endurance and a greater ratio of slow twitch muscle to fast twitch).

    If you would like some actual activites advice, feel free to let me know. However, the most important thing is knowing clearly what you want from the gym. Six pack? Lean muscle? Massive muscles (body building)?
     
  7. proFits

    proFits Ancient Guru

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    Skiddy did you read my last post I'm 5% body fat, if you're wondering what that means just look for charts with the people at your local gym that is VERY low almost dangerously low. So gaining some fat isnt even half bad and I did NOT gain only fat but I'm NOT expecting to gain NO FAT AT ALL since this is very unlikely to happen (specially eating food instead of fat-free protein shakes


    What I'm saying is

    Strenght training (low reps, high weights, longer rest) + added protein (compared to my very low proteine usual diet, hence why I'm so slim) will = added weight, sure involving SOME fat gain, nothing unexpected here

    But I obviously didnt gain 5 pounds of fat by adding protein which BTW I'm still pretty ripped (defined muscles) I do obviously feel the difference between taking shakes and no shakes

    My question is specially in regards to BCAA because I've never heard of it until fairly recently and I don't really want to trust the guy SELLING it and neither would I trust my collegue because they do have some very strange diet routine (Apple cider vinegar, I'd rather puke myself to death than drink any of it ever again)
     
  8. Decane

    Decane Ancient Guru

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    BTW: For a novice (<5 years at the gym), it is quite possible indeed to build a decent amount of muscle whilst burning fat. There are many factors involved, but I've summarized the main points below:
    • Eat frequently. Doing so will speed up your metabolism, allowing for faster calorie consumption, and hence, a faster rate of weight loss. As an example, I eat a snack (sandwich or banana) every 1.5 hours or so in school. Cheap and simple.
    • Do anaerobic exercise. I can almost hear Skiddywinks going: "Uuh, Decane, don't you mean aerobic exercise??" No. I mean anaerobic exercise. So what if a larger percentage of overall calorie consumption is from carbs and protein than in aerobic exercise? The absolute amount of fat burned during anaerobic exercise is still much higher than the absolute amount of fat burned during aerobic (heart rate ~ 70-80% of max.) exercise. To most of us, this is all that matters.
    • Rest! Seriously, as funny as it sounds, your muscles don't grow at the gym. Besides: working out for much over 1 hour without anabolic steroids will result in muscle catabolism, i.e. the exact opposite of what you want.
     
  9. Skiddywinks

    Skiddywinks Ancient Guru

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    I never said that it was bad. I was just mentioning I very much doubted any considerable amount of it was added muscle. Like you correctly point out, 5% is about as low as anyone would go in terms of body fat, but I would not go higher than 10%. How was your fat percentage measured by the way?

    Anyway, if you want to add some fat to be on the healthy side, there are much cheaper, effective and beneficial methods than necking protein shake. Only take that when muscle is the main and/or only goal. Otherwise, just eat a lot. It will make you feel better, give you more energy, and also cost a lot less. Just make sure it's not junk!

    When eating that kind of amount of food though, you should be gaining muscle anyway (assuming you are still gyming it), and protein shake would be a massive waste of money and effort.

    In all fairness, I'm not going to comment on what happens to your body, because I do not know you well enough. All I would say, that is without before and after body fat readings, weight measurements, height measurements and dietary plan, it is very difficult to come to a conclusion about how well the protein works. However, judging from what you have told me, I would suggest eating a lot more and forgoing the shakes until such a time as you are ready to focus on pure muscle and strength building.

    As for the BCAA, like I said; more or less useless. Without going into the science, they are helpful, but only if you have a terrible diet and workout routine anyway. And since the diet is easily the most important part of any healthy lifestyle, BCAA are more of a lazy man's second rate solution to a bigger problem. You are quite right in not trusting the seller (especially if you don't know them).

    As for your friends; apple cider vinegar? What the ****?

    EDIT: For the record, I actually agree with you about the exercise completely Decane, under the right circumstances. Given all the time and pace in the world, I would not suggest anaerobic exercise (in fact, the opposite to most people), but that is purely for efficiency's sake. For the largest overall impact, anaerobc is much better indeed.

    Glad to see we are in agreement of BCAAs as well.
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2009
  10. Decane

    Decane Ancient Guru

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    If you're serious about this supplement business, search Google for creatine and glutamine. They are the only 2 supplements I would ever consider taking if I was in the mood to experiment and had money burning a hole in my back pocket. I suggest you forget about BCAA -- the benefits I've read about are hardly tangible, and to be honest, the whole supplement resembles the "hifi" sector of the music enthusiast market, in that it only makes a marginal difference, and only the rich and over-enthusiastic can appreciate that difference for the money it costs.
     

  11. Skiddywinks

    Skiddywinks Ancient Guru

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    I wouldn't reccomend creatine, although I have no knowledge of glutamine. The basic effects, as far as I can tell, are an increase (or at least perceived increase) in energy levels, allowing you to go that extra mile in the gym.

    However, I have two problems with that;
    1) If you are eating and working out correctly, when you body runs out of enegry it is because it is time to stop. Not time to hit the rowing machine for another 30 minutes. To be honest, if my body tell's me it is time to stop, I listen. It know's what it is doing after the 200 thousand years it has been evolving.

    2) Creatine increases the amount of water that your muscles retain. This can give the impression of rapid increased size and the illusion that the stuff is working wonders. In fact, this is just a side effect.

    Personally, I would give it a miss. So long as you are doing things correctly from the start, you have nothing to gain from taking creatine.
     
  12. xafier

    xafier Master Guru

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    Get your ass over to www.dragondoor.com and read some stuff on there, and consider looking into kettlebells if you've got some spare cash.

    Personally I cannot be bothered with gyms, I have a set of kettlebells and they are fantastic for cardio and muscle building work.

    You need to ensure that you mix things up a bit, your body can become complacent on your workout, so its always good to change things around.

    Also I find body weight exercises great, one handed pushups, one legged squats (pistols), chin ups, hanging leg raises... all very good exercises... throw in some turkish getups, some kettlebell swings for cardio and your onto a winner ;)

    As for packing in lots of food, I work in an office so on my desk I have a big pot of nuts that I snack on a lot (brazils, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts), and I also scoff a lot of fruit too especially kiwis and bananas... I eat about 3 bananas a day minimum... BTW if you're going to eat nuts, avoid peanuts, the best ones for you are what I mentioned previously, I did a fair bit of research into them, also pecans but they're expensive!
     
  13. Decane

    Decane Ancient Guru

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    True, creatine can have some rather unpleasant side-effects, one of which is acne, and another is the swelling of one's face. However, in providing a temporary "shot" of fuel for the muscles, creatine does enable its user to momentarily lift heavier weights than would otherwise be possible. And, since a heavier weight implies a larger extent of microfractures in the muscle, it also allows for faster growth than would otherwise be possible (since a larger extent of mircrofractures implies a more intensified process of overcompensation -- basically, the process by which muscle grows). Not to mention it speeds up recovery and reduces the "burning" sensation you get with lactic acid buildup in an active muscle, allowing you to go further than would otherwise be feasible.

    However, in order not to give the wrong impression, I'm not really an advocate of creatin, mostly for the same reasons you listed in part 1 of your post. I don't like the idea that I might be stressing my body more than it could naturally sustain, and I also find the possibility of developing kidney stones a tad discouraging. :eek:
     
  14. Skiddywinks

    Skiddywinks Ancient Guru

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    I personally never bothered with gyms either, except for specific uses (rowing machine, pulley machine etc), as running outside is better than any treadmill, and those weights machines are really only for body builders (looking to target specific muscles).

    Compound moves involving your own body weight are far better for building a well rounded and powerful body.
     
  15. proFits

    proFits Ancient Guru

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    Creatine: I already take some as part of my protein/carb shake, not an actual DIET on creatine but just a small amount and I did hear of it's water retaining properties hence why it is not an option in my mind

    Kettle bell: One of the two guy has some at home, nice stuff, only problem is I'm not going for power I'm going for strength/mass gain, whereas power has explosion in the exercise I'm going for something with heavy weight with more defined areas affected by each exercise


    BCAA
    : (the thing I'm currently interested in) isn't as placebo as you guys seem to think it does have some PROVEN psychological properties where you don't feel so SORE from the training during and after the training, what I'm wondering is the IMPROVEMENTS during the training as far as the transfer of taken energy (calories) in parallel with carbs
     

  16. xafier

    xafier Master Guru

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    You can train for size and strength with kettlebells, just get yourself some 32kg ones and make yourself cry :p see if you can get a hold of a copy of Mike Mahlers "kettlebells for size and strength" its a great DVD with exercises utilizing two kettlebells for getting super sized and super strong... that guy is hard as nails!
     
  17. Skiddywinks

    Skiddywinks Ancient Guru

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    Oh don't get me wrong, I do believe that all supplements have a measurable effect on the body. You can find data everywhere.

    However, the majority of research I have seen (and, not surprisingly, the most professional) demonstrates no significant benefit to users while training, although, as you point out, there has been noted decreases in the breakdown of protein after exercise, potentially meaning an easier recovery for the next session.

    However, like I said, during training there is no difference. Anyone telling you different is likely uninformed, experiencing a placebo effect or trying to sell you something you don't need.
     
  18. Jonnyboy

    Jonnyboy Ancient Guru

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    I started to think about getting back into shape but after reading this thread it might be a bit hard because the last time I was into the gyms was 3 years ago and over the three years I picked up a drinking habit and a pot habit and eating only eating meat,french bread pizzas,and hot dogs and 16"Pizzas once a week.The only exercise I do is dips off the edge of my bed.
     
  19. TooRiski

    TooRiski Banned

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    i need to start gym again, tummy is starting to show a little, but after i finish my drink lol.........its been a year.

    but BCCA far as i knoe are the building blocks of protein, and i used them when i started working out about 12 years ago...they do help in the begining, especially if you are in your teens, but in the end its all about working out sleeping and eating right.

    if you want a bulkier body then eat all you can and workout hard and do cardio( i ran for about 3 miles every day or every other day, depending on how my mood was) at least every other day....make sure you sleep atleast 8 hours
     
  20. Skiddywinks

    Skiddywinks Ancient Guru

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    I did some more research on creatine since we started talking about it, and I can't find anything scientific that suggest it actually helps during a work out. However, I did find some evidence (fairly conclusive evidence might I add), that it helps a lot with the recovery process, and prevents the muscles from degrading after a work out.

    Off topic, but along a similar line; my ex-girlfriend's dad likes to run marathons and do some of the less popular sports (wind surfing, rock climbing etc), and whenever he would go for a run, he would jack himself up on caffeine tablets and energy drinks.

    Personally, I would slap the man. In my opinion at least, such things (including creatine), do have a time and place where they can and should be used. For example, if you are competing and need that little extra boost, go for a creatine bar or something. 2 miles in to a 3 mile run? Have a caffeine bar, just to get you through it.

    What I definitely do not agree with however, is using such regularly as you work out. Not only is your body going to adapt to the extra juice, and thus make it less and less effective, but like I said earlier, there is a reason your body is feeling tired and saying "no more weights". You can come to rely on such things to get you through the gym session, and you are seriously only doing yourself a disfavour doing that, since what you are capable of is not as much down to you as you feel.

    It is a thin line that has to be tread, and since the stuff is not cheap to begin with, I just really do not see the point. There are much bigger things that need to be dealt with before you move on to supplements, especially ones such as creatine (such as a correct diet, the right workout schedule and strecthing etc and making sure you don't over do it thinking that working until exhaustion every time will lead to faster improvement).
     

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