To help some of you save money while risking essentially zero of your gains, here are three supplements that are simply not worth the purchase.
Branched-chain amino acids, aka BCAAs
BCAAs ARE crucial to helping you build muscle.
They are, in fact, essential amino acids your
body cannot self-produce. The BCAA leucine is especially important for
its role in activating the mTor signaling pathway, another important growth factor.
But the point of supplements is to, well, “supplement,” or make up for deficiencies in your diet. The thing is, that’s hardly the case for BCAAs.
Think of it as someone giving you pills filled with water and saying, “Hey, take these! It’s going to help with hydration.”
Certainly, it’s true, but it’s not exactly necessary in pill form.
The same thing applies to BCAAs.
Research on BCAAs shows that, unless subjects were eating inefficient protein, supplementation is unnecessary.
Hardly will you need to supplement since you’re already getting plenty in your food, even at the minimum amount of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight.
A single, 8-ounce chicken breast or a cup of roasted peanuts contains roughly 9 grams of BCAAs or almost two servings of your standard BCAA supplement.
And even if you were to supplement, whey protein is a much better option since one, a quarter of it is BCAAs, two, it contains all other essential amino acids, and three, it typically costs less on a gram-to-gram basis.
The focus shouldn’t be on a handful of amino acids but on total protein intake.
b-hydroxy b-methylbutyrate, aka HMB.
HMB is a metabolite of the BCAA leucine. The claim is that HMB supplementation can reduce the rate of muscle degradation as well as reduce muscle soreness. Since only 5% of leucine is converted into
HMB supplementation was deemed important to maximize HMB’s preserving effects.
Unfortunately, the research falls completely flat.
HMB failed to outperform placebos in net muscle gains in both regular and athletic populations. It also performed worse than leucine on a gram-to-gram basis in overall growth. But, one meta-analysis responsible for HMB’s popularity found that, out of 250 supplements, HMB was able to increase lean mass just as well as the proven supplement Creatine.
However, reviewers of the meta-analysis noticed something a bit sketchy: Almost all of the papers on HMB shared either common authors or research institutions.
Some of the papers were also authored by the very same people conducting the meta-analysis (a and b).
And worse yet, they were backed by institutions or corporations that have patents or licenses on HMB.
This opens up a huge potential for publication bias.
When we look at the two, unrelated studies, both of them did not find any statistically significant effects with HMB supplementation. And the same goes for studies on soreness. At best, HMB supplementation still requires extensive research.
But until then, given the current data, it’s just not worth your money.
Just like BCAAs, glutamine is undoubtedly important for health. There is plenty of research showing its importance to gut health as fuel.
However, in terms of muscle growth, again, the keyword here is supplementation. Yes, glutamine is important for muscle growth but we simply don’t need to supplement it.
Multiple studies adamantly show that supplementing glutamine has zero effect on muscle strength, lean mass, and muscle catabolism when pitted against a placebo. There’s simply plenty in all our protein sources.
The only time it was beneficial was during long-endurance events, in which it improved muscle recovery.
Not so much.
Again, as long as you’re healthy and eating at least the bare minimum of protein, glutamine supplementation is effectively useless
Find out which Supplements are worth taking and when, check out this article.
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