The Emerging Role of Branched-Chain Amino Acids in Insulin Resistance and



Has anyone read this article or one like it and got there brain around it. I’m wondering what increased plasma levels it takes to make a difference. I take BCAA’s and am already insulin resistant so I want to optimize my use of them.

I’ll be gone for a week so will ready any comments when I get back as I wont have reception most of the time.


Another question I have from reading that article is - might adding BCAAs to fat bombs reduce the absorption / matabolism of the fat? When I went backpacking last week I ate fat bombs that had BCAA’s and I had to go #2 a lot more than normal and a lot more volume than normal. I though that if all I was eating was fat and protein then where is all the bulk coming from? Now I read this article and start to wonder. It says “BCAAs and dietary protein enhanced glucagon like peptide-1 (GLP-1) release and lowered the expression levels of the genes required for synthesis and adsorption of fatty acids in a human intestinal cell line”. If it’s changing gene expression I’m thinking it would take quite some time, not just one or two days.(?) And again - how much would it take?


Some questions first. Do you have T2D or IR? How much and what type of protein are you getting on your current diet?

I haven’t read that paper (yet) but you might want to look into the thoughts of Walter Longo and Peter Attia regarding amino acids, mTor, fasting,
autophagy, and longevity.


I have IR not T2D and when i’m home I only eat meat for protein but backpacking fresh meat is not available. At least I think I still have IR after being Keto for 6 months. Not sure it’s actually curable to where I can start eating carbs but I dont try it so I dont test for it.

This is only for backpacking, not for every day eating . . . I’m strict keto and intermittent fasting at home. I know Attia but not sure if Ive heard of Longo . . . OK Yes, Ive seen Longo as well Valter Longo

(Todd Allen) #6

My take away points from the paper:

There is significant evidence that increased BCAA intake tends to be beneficial for reducing IR and obesity.

There is a correlation between high blood levels of BCAAs and IR. It isn’t known whether high blood levels are merely a marker of IR or if they contribute to IR.

I’m inclined to think one should just trial increased leucine/protein intake and see if it aggravates signs of IR such as increasing fasting blood glucose and/or triglycerides. Does adiposity increase? If so, maybe the leucine is contributing to IR and one should cut back.


Good idea. My trigs are high as it is (average 190 but as high as 300 and as low as 97)

(Bacon is the new bacon) #8

Three of the BCAA’s are essential amino acids: leucine, iso-leucine, and valine. Leucine in particular is required for muscle growth. The only concern I know of regarding BCAA’s in quantity is that they can affect the liver–that’s probably where the insulin resistance comes in. The potential for liver damage is also the reason people should not supplement BCAA’s unless they are body-builders actively bulking up muscle, normal people can get what they need simply by eating decent-quality meat.

I’m too tired to start that paper tonight, but a quick glance look reasonable. I look forward to reading it.

(Karim Wassef) #9

The paper is incomplete

They look at BCAA’s anabolic effects but they discount two other critical confounders:

  1. Time
  2. Other glucose drivers

Basically, mToR activation is neither good nor bad. It depends on frequency. If it’s chronic, it’s bad. If it’s intermittent, it’s good.

Also the underlying hormonal state is critical. If you eat a SAD and then take BCAAs, that’s starting from a high glucose state. If you’re keto and take BCAAs, you’re starting in a low glucose state.

The effect proposed is not in the context of the underlying hormonal state and ignore the frequency of activation… I’ll read it again, but it came across as useless.


Just filling out the information here. Leucine because it is used to build skeletal muscle and that way help retain lean body mass through life?

It’s ok the answer appeared…

(Ethan) #11

Yes, and high insulin levels will cause a chronic activation of motor.


A search of the forums show 50+ hits for BCAA. Some great discussions.

A recent health report podcast I listened to goes through some nice basic biology. The researcher reflects on rodent models but notes the biology around the MTOR pathway between mice and humans has the same foundations.

They found that rodents on a high carb diet that were fed branched chain amino acid (bcaa) supplements didn’t live as long. These were non exercising cohorts. They didn’t test low carb diet.

The researcher extrapolated that eating low carb and adding bcaa’s would be doubly bad due to increased calories and the MTOR activity leading to weight gain and obesity. Taking into account the limitations of interpreting a single study in rodents, the interview discussion has a few thinking points about bcaa supplements and obesity.

My observation was that the extrapolation comments reveal a bias to CICO thinking. The interviewer has a bias toward the Mediterranean diet that also pops up in talking about the researcher’s earlier work.

The take home message was that it depends on what an individual’s goals are. If a person is not aiming at muscle building, then they will receive their required essential amino acids through food.


The importance of blood test sample timing for triglycerides is highlighted in this recent talk by Dave Feldman.

One has to make sure they have had at least a 12 hour fast before sample collection.

(Bacon is the new bacon) #14

That sounds reasonable enough. I haven’t come across any research to the contrary.