BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids) and Testosterone

Summer is over and the testosterone blog returns with more information about how to increase your testosterone naturally. Today, we are going to start a series about supplements and testosterone.

As you know, I don’t make a dime from supplements, so I have no vested interest in them. That way, I can speak freely. If they are useful increasing testosterone, and it’s backed by science, I will say it, if not, I will tell it like it is too.

My take on supplements

As I explain in the Testosterone Book, I’m not the biggest fan of supplements, many times you can obtain better nutrients from real food, and you will get them along with other synergistic components. And the truth is, many supplements just don’t work, and they don’t do shit if you are a healthy person, but it’s an industry that makes a lot of money, so…

On the other hand, and like everything in this life, there are specific situations where supplements can be important and, besides that, there are a few supplements that really work.

It’s the 80/20 rule, 20% of things work, and 80% of things don’t work at all, but hype and Marketing can do wonders and empty our pockets with that 80% of crap.

In the testosterone book we saw the main supplements that promise to increase testosterone and we saw if they really work or not. Here, we are going to give more information about this topic, talking about other supplements that can be useful too in our quest to increase testosterone naturally.

Today, we are going to talk about one of the most famous supplements in the gym, BCAA’s (Branched Chain Amino Acids) and how they relate to Testosterone. As we will see, they can be a very useful tool for our purposes of increasing testosterone naturally.

Do BCAA’s increase testosterone?

For those who don’t know, Amino Acids are the building blocks of protein, and BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids) are three specific kinds of amino acids: valine, leucine, and isoleucine.

Those amino acids have a big role in muscle creation and conservation, so body builders and weight lifters were always interested in them. The thing is, there are plenty of BCAA’s in meat protein, for example, so if you eat your steaks and you get your testosterone diet right, you won’t be deficient.

Besides that, if you take protein shakes, especially whey protein, it has plenty of BCAA’s and you should not have problems getting the necessary amount to build your muscle. As we saw in the testosterone book also, muscle mass is positively correlated with testosterone and weight lifting is one of the best exercises to optimize testosterone.

Having said that, what is the interest in supplementing with BCAA’s if you get plenty in a testosterone optimized diet? Well, the thing is, if you get your diet right, you won’t have problems, but this is one of those situations where science has found that additional supplementing, at specific times, can bring some advantages.

In this study [1], they investigated whether short-term amino acid supplementation could maintain a short-term net anabolic hormonal profile and decrease muscle cell damage during a period of high-intensity resistance training, enhancing recovery and decreasing the risk of injury and illness.

The thing is that serum was analyzed for testosterone, cortisol, and creatine kinase and they found that testosterone levels were significantly higher, and cortisol and creatine kinase levels were significantly lower in the BCAA group than in the placebo group, during and following resistance training. This suggests that short-term amino acid supplementation, high in BCAA, may produce a net anabolic hormonal profile while attenuating training-induced increases in muscle tissue damage.

That is, your testosterone will be higher and you are more protected during exercise with BCAA’s.

It’s interesting to know that the subjects were trained males. Many times theses subjects of studies are obese men, men with deficiencies or ailments… So supplements tend to be more effective, because they balance the deficiency that should not be there in the first place, but they don’t do much in healthy males. This means that supplementation, in this case, can be beneficial for healthy people.

In the same way, this other study [2] examined the effects of amino acid supplementation on muscular performance and resting hormone concentrations during resistance training. Again, they recruited healthy, trained men.

One of the main results is that significant elevations in serum sex hormone-binding globulin were observed in the Placebo group, but this response was not shown in the Amino acid group. Also, significant reductions in total testosterone were observed in the Placebo group, and total testosterone values were higher for the Amino acid group.

This shows that BCAA’s protect our beloved testosterone while training, they block SHBG from doing its job of binding testosterone and rendering it useless, and they increase testosterone.

Conclusions

It seems that, if you train with weights, supplementing with BCAA’s will do wonders for your testosterone and free testosterone. You will have higher levels than if you don’t supplement and you will have more free testosterone.

If you read the testosterone book, I hope you are exercising and I hope you are lifting weights. If so, supplementing with BCAA’s during your workouts (the most common way is taking them before and after the workouts), will increase your testosterone. BCAA’s can be found in pure form, or be acquired through protein shakes (whey is best). Another option is eating a chicken breast or beef before and after training, but, as you can imagine, that can be a little bit inconvenient.

(It goes without saying that if you chug BCAA’s, you don’ train and you have a crappy diet, you won’t have any positive effects from supplementation)

Studies referenced

[1] Amino acid supplements and recovery from high-intensity resistance training.Sharp CP1, Pearson DR.

[2] The effects of amino acid supplementation on hormonal responses to resistance training overreaching.Kraemer WJ1, Ratamess NA, Volek JS, Häkkinen K, Rubin MR, French DN, Gómez AL, McGuigan MR, Scheett TP, Newton RU, Spiering BA, Izquierdo M, Dioguardi FS.