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BCAAs vs Protein vs Carbs

Daniel Brady | November 18, 2012 in Supplements

BCAAs were found to be superior to protein or carbohydrates for lean mass gain, fat loss and strength gains. Read on to find out the experimental results.

36 experienced male lifters were split into 3 groups who received either 14g BCAAs, 28g whey protein or 28g carbohydrates in liquid form daily over a 8 week training period. They had a 4-day split training each muscle group once per week.[1] Here are the results:

Metric BCAAs Whey Protein Carbohydrates
Body Weight Gain 2 +- 1 kg 1 +- 1 kg 1 +- 1 kg
Lean Mass Gain 4 +- 1 kg 2 +- 1 kg 1 +- 1 kg
Body Fat Percentage Decrease 2 +- 1% 1 +- 1% 1 +- 1%
Bench Press 10-RM Increase 6 +- 3 kg 3 +- 2 kg 2 +- 2 kg
Squat 10-RM Increase 11 +- 5 kg 5 +- 3 kg 3 +- 2 kg

Cheapest Suppliers

Amazon stocks both Bulk Powder at $54/kg, or Optimum Nutrition Capsules at $115/kg. The bulk powder is more than 50% cheaper than the capsules, but the powder tastes pretty bad, while the capsules don’t.


Overall, BCAAs won in every respect, whey protein came in decently and carbohydrates came in last as you might have expected. The results are very impressive and are worth trying out yourself, but note that the study shown above was funded by a supplements company.

Other studies have showed that BCAAs reduce muscle damage and catabolism and increase protein synthesis, so BCAAs performing so well seems reasonable. You can read more about BCAAs here – The Benefits of BCAAs.

  1. Consuming a supplement containing branched-chain amino acids during a resistance-training program increases lean mass, muscle strength and fat loss. Jim Stoppani, Timothy Scheett, James Pena1, Chuck Rudolph and Derek Charlebois []

Daniel has a strong interest in evidence supported fitness training, preparation and supplementation. His goal is to provide clear information that simply works. He's currently 16 kg of muscle above his starting weight (7kg in the past 12 months), and targeting a continued growth rate of 5kg+ per year.
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