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BCAA raise insulin; won't this shut down fat burning?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 19, 2012 at 3:09 AM

BCAA raise insulin to a high degree. So if you take them pre training during a fasted workout session, would you not shut of the very process increased fat burning you are trying to achieve by fasted training by raising insulin? If insulin is high (BCAA on a fasted stomach), fat burning machinery shuts down, right?

Accordingly, if you take BCAA after a fasted training session, with the intent to fast a bit longer to continue the fat burning process, wouldn't the same problem arise?

Furthermore, instead of carb loading whenever you decide to break the fast post training, you wish to eat a meat-fat vlc meal, wouldn't the increased insulin levels cause more fat storage of the ingested fat?

Medium avatar

(2422)

on November 19, 2012
at 08:05 AM

By fasted I mean only the protein powder and a touch of MCT, so more accurately no carb, no solid food, superb low fat, ketosis stoking.

Medium avatar

(2422)

on November 19, 2012
at 08:03 AM

Thanks again for great comments. I was about 8% but I've been experimenting with some carb binges, which resulted in both muscle and fat gains. Pull-ups as cardio? I suppose at bodyweight with compressed rest and higher "fluid" reps. I do ladders with 25-50% bodyweight added, for sets of 1-2-3 rest repeat. Pure, slow, strength trading. I mix up both styles. Ring dips I can't imagine calling cardio. Properly done they are super high tension pure strength. I digress. I think ill continue the BCAA pre and BCAA/whey post wo. Today I worked out fasted at 12pm and it's now 5pm, 21hrs fasted

68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on November 19, 2012
at 04:38 AM

The gains you're going to get in muscle mass need to be substantial enough to actually be able to sustain such a low BF%. I enjoy certain starches and fats too much to really try to get to the mega-low levels of BF%. Although as I said, I've never gotten under 7%, so if there are some on here, I'd be interested to hear specifically about the levels and timing of both carbs and fat while staying at those levels. From my understanding, it's usually achieved with both restricting calories and a super-high % of dietary protein. This obviously isn't sustainable for very long without drawbacks.

68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on November 19, 2012
at 04:33 AM

While not typical, I'd still consider KB and pull-ups and rings "cardio", depending on rest intervals. I've never gotten under 7-8% BF myself, but from a practical standpoint and those who have done so (bodybuilders mostly) would probably attest that it can only be done by really cutting down to very, very low carbohydrate levels. As for Whey Protein/BCAA's post-workout, it's completely fine. I'd actually argue that the only way you can get BF% that low would be to use something that really maximizes protein synthesis.

Medium avatar

(2422)

on November 19, 2012
at 04:15 AM

Lastly, I've been doing more carbs lately than before a la CBL and frankly I've gained muscle AND fat. My rock climbing is suffering! Fat is dead weight and puffy bodybuilding muscles are fatigue able and slow.

Medium avatar

(2422)

on November 19, 2012
at 04:13 AM

I usually do 10g BCAA right before training (I don't do cardio), and 25g whey and 10g BCAA when finished training, then taters or rice and lean meat 1/2 hr later. Today, while I usually always do lean mean low fat moderate carbs on training days, ill just keep fasting and do the big fatty meat meal for dinner as I ate so much carb last night. So, I want to maximize fat burning During and for the hours fasting after my training, and keep insulin low so I don't store that fat ingested tonight. If I take whey or BCAA post w/o, will that thwart my goals?

Medium avatar

(2422)

on November 19, 2012
at 04:07 AM

Awesome answer. Exactly what I'm looking for. I'm actually lean @8-10% body fat but also light @64kg. I'm a climber. My goals are 6% BF and to stay hard, wiry, and strong. I train pull-up and ring-dip (weighted and bodyweight)and kettlebell military ladders. My leg work is on the mountain or rock cliffs. Today for instance I'm doing about 100 total pull-ups and dips BW only in an hour. Last nite I carb loaded 440g of tuber/rice. Today I want to get back to keto, training fasted 12pm, will stay fasted until a 5-6pm fatty meat big meal.

68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on November 19, 2012
at 04:06 AM

To branch off your point, ideally, those wanting to burn fat would use an optimally-timed dose of BCAA's before training and get the "best of both worlds" in-terms of body composition. It could mitigate the typical obese individual having to burn everything off before building back up to an improved physique. I've seen many people who are obese and also very strong, specifically in the upper legs and back, just because they had to support their excess body fat. All of this is lost with typical "fat burning." If more understood the biochemistry, they could achieve this.

06ca9c524c28bc3fba95d4d90f8f43c6

on November 19, 2012
at 03:59 AM

+1. The benefits of BCAAs pre workout far outweigh any drop in fat burning ability (especially when one is training fasted). -Matt

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1 Answers

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68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on November 19, 2012
at 03:36 AM

The difference comes with the type of Insulin response. BCAA's will stimulate acute Insulin response from the turning on or beginning of protein synthesis. Unlike a heavy carbohydrate or carbohydrate + protein meal, BCAA's will not cause a lasting Insulin response. When you ingest Glucose, for instance, the Insulin response is both acute and long-lasting, as there is an initial response by the Pancreas and then a continual response to the blood until the blood Glucose gets back to a normal. Now, it's a lot more complicated than this and obviously depending what is consumed can greatly change this response, but the latter, chronic Insulin release is why the typical metabolically deranged person will develop Type II Diabetes and other issues.

To answer your specific question, I think BCAA's before "fasted" cardio is an interesting debate. I think the arguments can be made on both sides, both on the "inhibits fat burning" and "spares muscle tissue" side of the fence. In my opinion, I am a big fan of the use of BCAA's, but I do agree that Physiologically it DOES inhibit some metabolizing of stored fatty acids. Here's my implementation...

If I'm someone with a great deal of muscle mass and I'm concerned about preserving this, I'd tend to use the BCAA's and just be content with even 25% of my fat burning ability.

If I'm someone with a great deal of fat to lose, you have to accept that much of your "functional muscle" you develop just to support the excess fat is going to be lost while burning fat. If fat loss is your goal, roll with that, don't worry about BCAA's and just do straight up fasted cardio.

Everyone should be using BCAA's in supplement form or those found in Whey Protein (or both together) post-workout. No doubt about that.

68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on November 19, 2012
at 04:06 AM

To branch off your point, ideally, those wanting to burn fat would use an optimally-timed dose of BCAA's before training and get the "best of both worlds" in-terms of body composition. It could mitigate the typical obese individual having to burn everything off before building back up to an improved physique. I've seen many people who are obese and also very strong, specifically in the upper legs and back, just because they had to support their excess body fat. All of this is lost with typical "fat burning." If more understood the biochemistry, they could achieve this.

Medium avatar

(2422)

on November 19, 2012
at 04:13 AM

I usually do 10g BCAA right before training (I don't do cardio), and 25g whey and 10g BCAA when finished training, then taters or rice and lean meat 1/2 hr later. Today, while I usually always do lean mean low fat moderate carbs on training days, ill just keep fasting and do the big fatty meat meal for dinner as I ate so much carb last night. So, I want to maximize fat burning During and for the hours fasting after my training, and keep insulin low so I don't store that fat ingested tonight. If I take whey or BCAA post w/o, will that thwart my goals?

68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on November 19, 2012
at 04:38 AM

The gains you're going to get in muscle mass need to be substantial enough to actually be able to sustain such a low BF%. I enjoy certain starches and fats too much to really try to get to the mega-low levels of BF%. Although as I said, I've never gotten under 7%, so if there are some on here, I'd be interested to hear specifically about the levels and timing of both carbs and fat while staying at those levels. From my understanding, it's usually achieved with both restricting calories and a super-high % of dietary protein. This obviously isn't sustainable for very long without drawbacks.

Medium avatar

(2422)

on November 19, 2012
at 08:05 AM

By fasted I mean only the protein powder and a touch of MCT, so more accurately no carb, no solid food, superb low fat, ketosis stoking.

Medium avatar

(2422)

on November 19, 2012
at 04:15 AM

Lastly, I've been doing more carbs lately than before a la CBL and frankly I've gained muscle AND fat. My rock climbing is suffering! Fat is dead weight and puffy bodybuilding muscles are fatigue able and slow.

06ca9c524c28bc3fba95d4d90f8f43c6

on November 19, 2012
at 03:59 AM

+1. The benefits of BCAAs pre workout far outweigh any drop in fat burning ability (especially when one is training fasted). -Matt

Medium avatar

(2422)

on November 19, 2012
at 08:03 AM

Thanks again for great comments. I was about 8% but I've been experimenting with some carb binges, which resulted in both muscle and fat gains. Pull-ups as cardio? I suppose at bodyweight with compressed rest and higher "fluid" reps. I do ladders with 25-50% bodyweight added, for sets of 1-2-3 rest repeat. Pure, slow, strength trading. I mix up both styles. Ring dips I can't imagine calling cardio. Properly done they are super high tension pure strength. I digress. I think ill continue the BCAA pre and BCAA/whey post wo. Today I worked out fasted at 12pm and it's now 5pm, 21hrs fasted

68294383ced9a0eafc16133aa80d1905

(5795)

on November 19, 2012
at 04:33 AM

While not typical, I'd still consider KB and pull-ups and rings "cardio", depending on rest intervals. I've never gotten under 7-8% BF myself, but from a practical standpoint and those who have done so (bodybuilders mostly) would probably attest that it can only be done by really cutting down to very, very low carbohydrate levels. As for Whey Protein/BCAA's post-workout, it's completely fine. I'd actually argue that the only way you can get BF% that low would be to use something that really maximizes protein synthesis.

Medium avatar

(2422)

on November 19, 2012
at 04:07 AM

Awesome answer. Exactly what I'm looking for. I'm actually lean @8-10% body fat but also light @64kg. I'm a climber. My goals are 6% BF and to stay hard, wiry, and strong. I train pull-up and ring-dip (weighted and bodyweight)and kettlebell military ladders. My leg work is on the mountain or rock cliffs. Today for instance I'm doing about 100 total pull-ups and dips BW only in an hour. Last nite I carb loaded 440g of tuber/rice. Today I want to get back to keto, training fasted 12pm, will stay fasted until a 5-6pm fatty meat big meal.

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