BCAA Product Comparison

Supplements to enhance sport performance is now an industry worth many millions of dollars. There is a solid scientific basis underpinning the performance claims that are made for Branched chain amino acid (BCAA).

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. These are nitrogen-containing compounds that occur in many different combinations. They provide unique structure and function to the proteins that they make up.

The Role Of BCCAs

BCAAs are the three amino acids leucine, isoleucine, and valine. BCAA supplements are probably one of the most overlooked and most effective supplements for the development of sceletal muscle and are thus invaluable for anyone who wants or needs to build up muscle. They are also used to increase sporting or physical performance. Also, BCAA’s can help lessen muscle breakdown during intense exercise.

BCAAs can also offer an advantage to older people where muscle atrophy (shrinkage) can be delayed. This is achieved by consuming these additional amino acids that are central to promoting muscle growth.

Thirty Five per cent of our muscles are made up of BCAAs which are necessary to allow muscles to grow and to retain water.

dailymailbcaaScientific Studies

A recent study that showed the remarkable affect that BCAA has had on laboratory mice. The BCAA’s extended their lives and improved their motor skills as well as other elements of their performance. 1

Press Coverage

The article prompted headlines at that time in the Daily Mail claiming that these Body builder protein powders ‘could increase life expectancy by 10 years. Since then the debate about the properties of BCAA has made many headlines. Often referred to as the Elixir of life it can be sprinkled on porridge or stirred into a milky drink. It has the capacity to strengthen weak and worn muscle. That in turn will help to lessen the risk of fractures or painful tumbles in later years.

Research Based Benefits of BCAA

Other benefits are derived from the supplement. When it is taken in later years it can boost energy. It can also benefit people suffering from breathing and respiratory and heart problems. Researcher Enzo Nisoli conducted the study and it was his work, which was reported in the Daily Mail article. Nisoli said that he thought that the data produced proved that it was advisable for older people to take the supplement. Professor Nisoli, who is from Brescia University, gave mice considered to be ‘middle-aged’ amino acids leucine, isoleucine and valine with their water.

The mice that had been given the supplement lived, on average, eighty days longer than mice that had had not be given the supplement. This, if converted to human terms would mean adding almost another ten years to the average lifespan of a British male with the extra life expectancy for women being slightly more.

There has been a lot of study of BCAAs. Another study, reported in The Examiner concluded that some studies had been helpful in providing extra evidence to support diets higher in protein. Whey protein and other forms of BCAAs as part of an overall healthy lifestyle could be pivotal to losing excess fat and dieting. 2

Deciding to Take BCAAs

So if you have decided that as part of your efforts to live a healthy lifestyle you might be thinking of giving BCAA’s a try. If so you will want to know what the options for buying them are. There is a bewildering array of supplements on sale both on the high street and on line. So here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Maximuscle vs. Myprotein:  Maximuscle is billed as a meal replacement powder. However, it does not really seem to have enough carbs to be adequate for that purpose. Myprotein on the other hand is simple whey protein. Both products are similar in protein content (38g per 60g serving vs. 23g per 30g serving) and are similar in calorific content.

 

BRAND PRICE WEIGHT PRICE PER GRAM
Maximuscle £29.49 1.2kg 2.45 pence per gram
MyProtein £12.79 1kg 1.27 pence per gram

Visits to various forums reveal that most people who have tired both find the cheaper Myprotein product just as good at almost 50% of the price.

This will probably come down to a matter of preference. The powdered version can taste very unpleasant although fruit flavouring makes the powder preparation a bit more palatable. In comparison capsules are tasteless but generally cost a bit more. For those who use a lot of supplement, amazon.co.uk offers very handy capsule refiller kits and myprotein the empty gelatin capsules. They claim that this approach can save up to 70% off most retail prices.

Drinks

There is now the option of buying your BCAAs in a can. BCAA Xtra Drink (24 x 250ml cans) can be bought from ActivLab (http://www.activlab.co.uk) for £32.99 making each 250 ml can about 1.37.

To maximize the various anabolic effects of BCAA’s the right dosage of the supplement is essential. Dosages as low as 3 grams/day have shown benefit. However studies of BCAA usage have shown some dramatic benefits of using about 9 grams per 100 pounds lean bodyweight. This should be used taken daily when strenuous training or physical exertion is being undertaken. For a normal non-exercising dose then the lower end of the scale i.e. 3-5 gm will be adequate for most people.

Where you buy your BCAA depends a lot on your preference. Some people like to browse and actually hold the items that they area going to buy in their hands. Others are happy enough to buy on line. In general the on line vendors will beat a store price because they operate with less overheads.
That is not always true, however, as vendors like Holland and Barrett often have very good deals. Their current ‘buy one item and then purchase another item for just 1p’ is an example. Holland and Barrett will also deliver free if you order on line.

There are often very good incentives for bulk buying. This might be very useful if you know that you are going to be using the products for a long time. Buying in this way will undoubtedly save the most money. The better-known brands will always cost the most. There is little evidence, however, to suggest that apart from the illustrious provenance of the big brands, there is any reason not to buy the lesser-known, cheaper brands.

Prices for BCAA caplets

SUPPLIER PRICE CAPS PRICE PER GRAM OTHER INFO
Amazon Optimum BCAA £26.95 400 2.6p pence per gram www.amazon.co.uk Free UK Delivery on Eligible Orders
Holland and Barrett £20.45 200 caps 4p pence per gram http://www.hollandandbarrett.com Free on line delivery and one item for 1p with any other full priced item
Power Body UK £29.85 400 caps 2.9 pence per gram http://www.powerbody.co.uk Orders placed before 3pm sent the same day. Free delivery on all orders over £19.00

BCAA Powder Preparations

SUPPLIER PRICE MG PRICE PER MG ADDITIONAL INFO
My Protein £23.49 500 4 pence per gram www.bulkpowders.co.uk £5 off 1st BCAA Order over £10. ‎Use Code BULK5. Free Delivery.
Amazon £19.95 500 3 pence per gram www.amazon.co.uk Re-sealable Pouch – 100 days supply – Fast Delivery

In general, if you exercise and care about your muscle mass irrespective of your age, BCAAs will benefit you.

There is a lot of information of BCAAs on the internet and lots of opportunity to find a really good deal. It is always advisable, however, to speak to you doctor about any supplement that you plan to take.

  1. “http://www.cell.com/cellmetabolism/fulltext/S1550-4131%2810%2900304-9”
  2. “http://www.examiner.com/article/new-studies-show-bcaa-s-pivotal-dieting-and-fat-loss”