Are you tripping?!

Posted on August 15, 2012


There is a definite pattern when it comes to me and my place in the world of supplements.

  1. First I read or hear about something that is today’s ‘must-have’ and I wonder how I ever managed to survive without it. (Similar to how I felt when GHD’s were invented)
  2. I then embark on my own research to get the real low-down although I must admit I’m excellent at seeing / reading / hearing what I WANT to hear and in this regard, Google can be a terrifying tool!
  3. Next I come to the conclusion that I HAVE to have it. Tomorrow … no today … in fact yesterday! I then spend rather a lot of hard-earned cash to order supplies and, always a sucker for ‘saving’ money by bulk-buying, this often results in buying enough to supplement the population of a small country
  4. I diligently start taking said supplements … for a week or so anyway, until something more exciting comes along and either my ADD kicks in or I’ve not seen instant results (demanding? who moi?!?) and they end up in my ‘supplements cupboard’, gathering dust and ticking slowly away towards expiry
  5. Back to point 1.

But this time … I really think I might actually stick to something. Why?  Because a whole host of people have recently told me I should be taking BCAA’s … and I mean people I have on a bit of a pedestal thanks to their own superstar fitness achievements and their relentless dedication to continually learning the best tips and tricks in the trade.


In a nutshell, amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Of these, nine are considered essential. When a substance is said to be essential for the body it means without it you will die. Essential amino acids therefore, are ones we cannot survive without. Likewise, essential fatty acids are necessary for us to thrive.

Of the nine essential amino acids, three account for as much as 33% of muscle tissue – leucine, isoleucine and valine.

During exercise, levels of all three fall, which may make you want to bail from your workouts too soon. Because what you want most at this point is more energy to continue training, your body will basically seek out the most readily available source of energy: your muscle, the very thing you’re trying to develop, grow and shape. And that’s not a good thing!

Supplementation then sounds like a great option and indeed countless studies have shown BCAA’s to have extensive benefits for both body builders and endurance athletes alike.

  • They provide you with extra zip during your workout, fight mental sluggishness while you exercise and spare your muscles from being used for fuel
  • They promote faster recovery from your workouts, which translates into faster improvements to your body
  • If you take BCAAs right before (and after) your workout, you’ll go a long way toward providing your body with the fuel it needs so that your body doesn’t go dipping into your precious muscle for it
  • They are directly metabolised in your muscle, unlike most other aminos you ingest, which have to pass through the liver. By getting shunted directly to your muscle tissue, they act like standby fuel – either for your workouts or for muscle growth and recovery when you’re resting
  • They promote muscle growth by directly kickstarting protein synthesis ie. the way that muscle tissue is created
  • They boost endurance by offering a fuel source to muscles. They automatically increase the amount of energy your body has available during workouts
  • They improve your strength
  • They protect against muscle breakdown because your own stores of BCAAs deplete so easily during training, your body would otherwise turn to alternative sources for energy i.e.start cannibalising your own muscle tissue
  • They burn more fat, in addition to giving you great muscle tone, shape and strength
  • They reduce cravings thanks to the leucine which acts on the brain to blunt your appetite

Quite a list!

Admittedly when I asked each of the aforementioned advisors about the science behind them, on realising that the explanation didn’t involve fun stuff like Choos, clothes and cosmopolitans, I switched off … but not before I ascertained that these BCAA’s sound pretty cool and on this occasion, along with my Protex-H, I might just save it some shelf space …

so watch this space!

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