If you’re a regular shopper at your local supplement store, you may have noticed a shift in the products that are the most promoted. The tried and true science-backed supplements such as protein powder and creatine are being pushed to the wayside in favor of this mysterious new supplement type called Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs).
The claims made on the packaging and advertisements for these products are fairly grand. Better pumps, better results, and even improved cognitive function are just a few of the many claims made by the supplement industry regarding these products. With claims like these, it’s very easy to see why one may be duped into making a purchase.
However, how do these claims stand up? To put it frankly, there isn’t a lot of evidence to back it up. Save for some cases where actual deficiencies play a role, there’s no reason to believe BCAA supplementation is beneficial for the average person – let alone the average gym-goer.
Logically speaking, this follows through when you think hard about it. What are BCAAs? Essentially they’re just amino acids that are in a certain shape. There are naturally occurring BCAAs in regular food, including meat and dairy. So basically, they’re just amino acid supplements.
But that may be good for people who are deficient in some amino acid, right? True, but that’s extremely rare. Having a specific amino acid deficiency without having an overall protein deficiency is very unlikely. The vast majority of people get all the different amino acids they need from their daily diet. In fact, just a handful of peanuts contain more leucine than many branched chain amino acid supplements.
Not to mention that BCAA supplements typically have very little amino acids in them to begin with. Some BCAA supplements have as little as a single gram of BCAAs per pill or per scoop. This is a completely negligible amount. With BCAA supplements being so comparatively expensive, it’s not economical to purchase them as opposed to regular food.
BCAAs are a completely unnecessary supplement for the vast majority of gym-goers. The amino acids in them can be found in much greater amounts for far cheaper in real food. With real food, on top of the specific amino acids, you also get other nutrients that your body needs. BCAAs may be the biggest scam in the supplement industry in the modern era.