Amino acid supplements…
One of the top-selling categories of supplements in the bodybuilding and fitness industry behind protein powder and creatine.
But are they really that necessary?
Or are they just a gimmick like many other supplement companies out there?
Let’s take a look into the world of aminos…
What Are BCAA’s?
BCAA’s is short for ‘branched chained amino acids.’
Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, the macronutrient that helps with muscle growth and a long list of other bodily functions.
In total, there are 21 amino acids out there.
11 of those amino acids our body naturally produces. The other 9 we need to obtain from our food every single day.
Of those 9 essential amino acids, there are 3 that are ‘branched’ which have different chemical structures.
These 3 BCAA’s are: Leucine, Isoleucine, and Valine.
The 3 BCAA’s are the most important amino acids for building muscle, promoting recovery, and preventing delayed onset muscle soreness.
Do Vegans Needs BCAA supplements?
Many people question the vegan diet.
They assume vegans need a whole lot of supplements to keep themselves healthy.
While this couldn’t be further from the truth, it still begs the question…
Are vegans getting enough amino acids?
Vegans do not need amino acid supplements as long as they are getting enough protein in their diet.
The protein we eat already has amino acids in it. As long as you’re consuming enough quality protein throughout the day, you will not need to take any supplements.
The Issue With Amino Acids Supplements…
A big issue for amino acid supplements is that many are not vegan.
Believe it or not but many amino acid supplements produced by big name companies are made from:
- Human hair
- Animal skin
Pretty gross if you ask me.
But don’t take my word from it. TrueNutrition wrote a great article on “The Dark Side of BCAA’s.”
So even if a vegan would consider taking an amino acid supplement, they would have to do some digging to find one that is made strictly from plant sources.
What About BCAA supplements For Muscle Gains?
Most fitness enthusiasts and influencers will suggest taking BCAA supplements for increases in muscle gain and strength.
And while it is true that BCAA’s do help build muscle, the same rule still applies from before.
You will get all the essential amino acids you need from the protein you consume on a daily basis. You do not need extra amino acids from supplements.
For people looking to gain muscle, you need 1.2-1.6g of protein/kg of bodyweight.
This comes out to be 82-109g of protein per day for someone who weighs 68kg (150 pounds).
As long as you’re hitting this range of protein, you will get all the essential amino acids.
In fact, studies show that there is no added benefit to consuming extra amino acids once you’re consumed the RDI (Recommended Daily Intake).
Skip the amino acid supplements.
You only really need them if you’re not getting enough quality protein into your diet.
Truth to be told, most supplements (not just BCAA’s) are expensive. And many people who constantly buy supplements are misguided when using them.
People think supplements are some magical pill or powder that helps you pack on muscle, kind of like steroids. But supplements are nowhere near as effective as roids.
The truth is muscle is only built by doing 3 things:
- Lifting heavy weights and getting stronger
- Eating in a caloric surplus
- Getting enough sleep and recovery
And nothing is going to change that.
The only supplements that I recommend are protein powder and creatine. Anything else is just a waste of your money.