Whey, BCAA, leucine etc

(Heather Meyer) #1

Interesting enough I was reading about BCAA’s to improve symptoms in people with liver chirrosis tonight. Apparently Branch Chain Amino Acids including Lucine, Valine(?) and another main amino acid can help reduce swelling of the liver and promote healing as well as reduce the chances of a patient getting liver cancer by up to 50%. Obviously this was only one study i read but it did look promising. Interestingly enough… BCAA’s can be found in the diet including

-Greek Yogurt

(Susan) #2

That is good for people on Keto, as we eat those things! =)

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #3

Probably they meant leucine, iso-leucine, and valine, the three essential branched-chain amino acids. But people should be careful to avoid getting too much of the BCAA’s, because they are inflammatory when ingested in quantity. People who are not striving to build muscle should probably not go out of their way to include BCAA’s in their diet.

(Heather Meyer) #4

i was actually reading that BCAA’s are useless to most people and can actually cause muscle breakdown when taken as a pre-workout and its even worse for those who are in a fasted state.
I even read that it can cause an up swing in insulin too!

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #5

Whoever wrote that appears to be misinterpreting things.

First, BCAA’s are primarily needed for building muscle, so yeah, most people don’t particularly need them, especially since they are inflammatory in quantity. The three I mentioned in my earlier post are required in the diet, however, though not in quantity unless one is building muscle.

Muscle breakdown is part of the process of building up muscle. The “worse for those who are in a fasted state” business appears to be a reference to autophagy, which could be described as a form of “breakdown,” I suppose.

And lastly, all amino acids “can cause an upswing in insulin.” Protein intake stimulates insulin secretion, but at a quarter to a half the rate that carbohydrate does. This is so well-known that we never mention it, especially since we have to have protein every day, so what are we going to do about it? Not only that, but without any insulin at all, we’d starve to death, so insulin at the right level is a good thing; it’s the excessively high insulin levels resulting from excessive carbohydrate consumption that cause the problem.

(Mark Rhodes) #6

(Heather Meyer) #7

Everyone keeps pointing back to Whey Protein as being the ultimate source of BCAA’s but i also hear that Whey Protein is very insulinogenic… care to weigh in?(no pun intended)

(Heather Meyer) #8

So if i start consuming BCAA’s while in a fasted state during intra-workout or post-workout…it should be okay then? I am one that struggles to get adequate protein in my diet(due to allergies…smaller stomach availability due to wls)

(PSackmann) #9

I don’t know if whey protein is insulogenic for me, I do know that it makes me gain weight and makes me hungry. I used to think I was doing the right thing by having some each morning with a cup of coffee, turns out I’m better with just the coffee and fat.

(Bacon is a many-splendoured thing) #10

I don’t know if you need to break your fast to take BCAA’s. I would believe that as long as they are in your diet when you do eat, that should be sufficient. But that is a guess, and not based on data.

(Bunny) #11

Dr. D’Agostino: Well, there’s 2 purely ketogenic amino acids and one is leucine and other is lysine. They have minimal impact glycemic response. So that’s one of the benefits of it and from a performance point of view, I think that they may offer some advantages we haven’t studied that. I’m always a little bit cautious to talk about things that we haven’t directly studied in the lab, but there’s some evidence that suggest that they may be helpful taking intra workout. I’ve taken them for years during fasting and I can tell you that they kind of help you get through periods of fasting and I believe have an anti-catabolic effect, if you are fasting.* You talked about also supplementing essential amino acids and I think it is important that you have essential amino acids for repair, muscle-building anabolic properties or whatever. But the meal that you ate, I had venison and liver last night for my meal. It was kind of a heavy meal I think. Your gut and your liver actually store amino acid and throughout probably twenty four hours after you eat especially something like a steak and as long as you have baseline levels of those essential amino acids, they will be available for anabolic properties whereas the relative changes in a leucine are what’s most important for triggering through the anabolic machinery for growth and repair.

Ben: Yeah.

Dr. D’Agostino: And you know, you can take leucine and you get above some threshold level and that activates delta muscle protein synthesis but you think, you know if the essential amino acids are not there, how’s it going to rebuild? But really, the meal that you ate the previous day provides availability of those essential amino acids. I tend to couple my workouts or exercise later in the day, so if I kinda go into it fasting I will have a meal within a few hour time frame after. Unless I’m doing an extended fast and there may be some utility and essential aminos but that’s not really been showing experimentally. **But I do think that anecdotally from just experimenting with different fasting protocols that branched chain amino acids can have some utility there and a number of people can be blood work and DEXA scans and what not are fasting with or without branched chain and it looks like they kept a couple pounds to lean body mass as they incorporated branched chain amino acids into their fasting which went from 3 days to… 1 guy did like fourteen days (chuckles). I’m inclined to believe that they’re beneficial. …” …More

*See also: loose flabby skin (anabolic vs. catabolism); How much protein is excessive? How much protein is enough? “…Proteins are being degraded and resynthesized continuously. Old proteins get broken down, and the amino acids are reabsorbed to be built into new proteins. The amount of turnover is several times larger than the amount of amino acids eaten daily. However, some amino acids do get lost in the process, so we require a certain amount of protein intake. This is lost predominantly in the stool and the urine. Sweat, hair, nails etc make up a miniscule proportion of the lost amino acids. …”

image link

”… Dr. Ron Rosedale, in fact, suggests going even lower. In a fascinating LowCarb Vail talk (available on YouTube, and highly recommended), he said “Your health, and likely your lifespan, will be determined by the proportion of fat versus sugar you burn in your lifetime”. Remember that excess protein (see last weeks post) falls into the ‘burning sugar’ side of the equation. He also said in that talk, to a group of Low Carb aficionados that “today, it is perhaps more important to restrict protein than to restrict carbohydrates.” Strong words, indeed. I tend to agree. …” …More


If your following a ketogenic diet, than you also have to take into consideration the effect BHB has on leucine use in the body.

(BHB infusion up to 3 mmol)

Leucine flux during beta-OHB infusion did not differ from leucine flux during normal saline infusion in nine normal subjects, whereas leucine oxidation decreased18-41% … and incorporation of leucine into skeletal muscle protein increased 5-17% http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC303494/

You also have to take into consideration whether or not you are able to use fat as a fuel preferentailly, thus sparing protein catabolism for energy. As a general rule, the more type 1 fibers (endurance) you’re using, the more you will also use ketones as a fuel in addition to fat IF ketone levels are sufficient.

…contribution to energy provision in skeletal muscle rises to ∼10% after an overnight fast, 20% to 50% after 72 h of fasting, but declines to ∼15% after 24 days of starvation.

Thus, skeletal muscle demonstrates saturation kinetics for the KB concentration–oxidation relationship, with saturation likely between 1 and 2 mmol as demonstrated by fasting of various durations (compiled in Balasse & Fery, 1989) or step‐wise βHB infusion (Mikkelsen et al. 2015).

For example, I’m doing some upper body strength training this morning based loosely on Body By Science. I just drank my pre-workout coffee with some added BCAA powder, collagen hydrosylate (for tendons etc), and mct oil. I learned the hard way not to use essential amino powder because the quick acting tryptophan knocks me out like a sleeping pill.


I split above posts about BCAAs from another topic about NAFLD.


Going back to whey…
If you are healthy, or especially if you have a naturally low insulin response (without being T1D) then the insulin and glucagon produced in response to whey might be beneficial overall, taking into account that insulin also promotes IGF. This is exactly the strategy I used before keto. Did that constant stimulating of insulin with wheyand carbs contribute to my metabolic woes later? :woman_shrugging: In my case, I believe so.

So back to the interesting stuff about whey…
Did you know that what you eat doesn’t reflect what your body does with it? The intestines actually metabolize the aminos in whey before they are available to plasma, and this varies according to age in otherwise healthy adults:

Notice a large spike in aspartate that wasn’t present in the proteins ingested (infused directly to duodenum in this study). So, in addition to an insulin-glucagon reaction, you are also signalling a switch from ketone manufacture to glucose via beta oxidation in the liver by supplying a direct precursor to OAA, which increases TCA cycles. This is also not a bad thing in the right context. It provides a temporary reduction in ketones along with increased muscle glycogen repletion potential post-exercise.

(Bunny) #15

Note: “…Tryptophan is essential for the production of the B vitamin, niacin, which is vital for the brain to manufacture the key neurotransmitter, serotonin. It enhances the release of growth hormones, and suppresses the appetite. …” …More

Human Growth Hormone (HGH/GH) is produced (pituitary gland) during the the delta stage of REM sleep! (HGH/GH: major #1 fat burning hormone or insulin growth like factor or IFG-1 helps create the production of ketones {a byproduct of oxidized lipids) within the liver mitochondria)

High sugar diet blocks the body from using HGH/GH which also lowers DHEA levels produced by the hypothalamus when the body cannot use HGH/GH…


Yes, tryptophan is needed for mental function (serotoinin, melatonin). Dosing myself with it in the morning however, not so great. :wink: