As we kick off this supplement series, there's one very important thing that should be addressed up front: No amount of supplementation can fix crappy diet. If you aren't fueling your body with quality food in proper portions then you aren't going to see the results you want in the gym, no matter how much protein or aminos or anything else you take.
If you are doing the right things in your diet, our friends over at Driven Nutrition are the best in the business when it comes to supplements. They've put together some great content on different products and the health/training benefits of each that we wanted to share with you. With so many different options and opinions out there, it's always a good idea to stick with the facts and trust a high quality product. Driven meets both of those expectations, and we're proud to be able to offer their supplements to our members. Read up on these four benefits of BCAA's and then hop over to Driven's website and check out their products.
"If you are reading this we could assume you are already a supplement taker or at the very least, interested in what supplements you could be taking to help you reach your goals. If you also consider yourself an informed consumer, one who is thrifty and does not fall for gimmicks you probably choose your supplement stack based on what will give you the most bang for your buck. What we are discussing here is whether it is worth it to add BCAA’s (Branch Chain Amino Acids) to your supplement arsenal. We thought we could simplify the decision and give you 4 BIG benefits of BCAA’s to strongly consider.
BCAA’s Increase Muscle Protein Synthesis (mTOR)
We lift weights and train to build bigger stronger muscles, duh, but exactly how does the building process work? Resistance training triggers protein synthesis, a signal that tells our body to use proteins to construct new muscle tissue. Supplementing with BCAA’s during and after resistance training can increase the protein synthesis signaling, meaning more muscle growth! Even without resistance training BCAA’s can aid in the preservation of lean tissue and help prevent fat gain! Which brings us to reason number 2…
BCAA’s Increase Fat Burning and Metabolism
BCAA’s are made up of three amino acids, Leucine, Iso-leucine, and valine. Iso-leucine in particular, along with enzymes is used to breakdown glucose and fatty acids to be used as energy in the body. This increased energy outflow and fat oxidation allows for a more forgiving metabolism, especially when it comes to carbohydrates. BCAA’s are a great supplement for keeping muscle while staying lean.
BCAA’s Improve Strength and Endurance Performance
We all know that a protein rich diet is ideal for packing on lean muscle tissue, however a diet rich in protein can be boosted with the supplementation of BCAA’s particularly Leucine. Leucine increases muscle protein synthesis, thus allowing for more of the proteins you ingest to be used to build new muscle and add more strength. Because BCAA’s increase the efficiency of fat and glucose being burned as energy having them present in the blood stream via a dietary source can lead to greater endurance. BCAA’s also slow the uptake of tryptophan to the brain, reducing the feeling of exertion or tiredness brought about by high intensity training. Basically you slow your brains way of telling you “I’m exhausted, time to slow down”.
BCAA’s Decrease Soreness Experienced from High Intensity Training
Did you hear that? Less soreness! If you have been unconvinced so far this should begin to sway you. BCAA’s ability to prevent muscle breakdown and aid in the rebuilding process of skeletal muscles means you experience less post workout soreness. This allows you to train with more intensity, more frequently!
When looking at BCAA supplements remember not all are created equal. Look for a product with at least 2 grams of Leucine and one that has Leucine making up at least 40 percent of the total content. Commonly a ratio of 2:1:1 (Leucine:Isoleucine:Valine) is found. Learn more about Driven’s Amino."
How Your Genetics Affect Your Results:
Your body was made with a specific hormone profile and bone structure that determines your shape. You can get lean and build muscle with any body type, but knowing how you are genetically advantaged and disadvantaged can help you calibrate your approach. The more you know about your body as a unique creation, the more you can adapt to reach your functional and aesthetic goals.
There are 3 basic body types: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorph. Each type is governed by a specific hormone profile. The ratios might be different within each type, but what makes you the type you are is your hormone makeup. Very few people are purely one type, however. Most people are a mixture of two, but lean harder toward one.
What are the body types?
Ectomorph- This type appears thin and lean. They have a very high metabolism which makes it difficult to gain fat or muscle, since a calorie surplus is necessary to accomplish either. Their metabolisms are so high, that it is hard to eat enough to maintain muscle. Because of this, they are often referred to as “hard gainers”. Once the body eats its store of fat, it will start eating muscle. And to build muscle, you have to eat enough to exceed what your body is using. This is very difficult for an ectomorph to accomplish, although not impossible. Ectomorphs tend to have lower muscle mass than the other two body types for this reason. This body type tends to burn carbohydrates and fat as fuel and tends to burn through ingested protein before it can be stored.
Mesomorph- These tend to appear more muscular or athletic. Compared to the other two types, they have the most efficient metabolism, which means they are able to build muscle without storing too much excess fat. Mesomorphs balance nicely being able to eat a calorie surplus to gain muscle and not storing the extra as fat. They are dominated by testosterone and growth hormone with lower levels of insulin and estrogen. These body types tend to do well burning fat and carbohydrates for energy and converting protein into muscle.
Endomorph- This type tends to appear more round or sometimes overweight. Of all three types, this type has the slowest metabolism. They are inefficient fat burners and tend to convert carbohydrates into fat and store them. Endomorphs often find it hard to shed fat, but they enjoy the advantage of building muscle easily. They are weakly dominated by testosterone, along with higher levels of estrogen and circulating insulin than the other two types. This means that for an endomorph, they have the advantage of being able to gain muscle quickly, but they also store fat easily. Endomorphs tend to store both carbohydrates and fat instead of burning them.
How to make the most of your body type:
Ectomorph- Prioritize strength training over cardio to build more muscle mass. You are naturally better at cardio and tend to have an endurance advantage. Strength is your struggle. Focus on strength and supplement with it as much as you can. Eat more and lift more! If you burn too many calories you will start to lose muscle mass. Since your body burns calories so quickly and has lower levels of insulin, you tend to have a high carb tolerance. This type tends to do well with higher carb intake, moderate protein, and lower fat. Make sure to eat enough to prevent muscle catabolism. (Also known as “destructive metabolism”, catabolism occurs when the body breaks down molecules and releases energy, as opposed to building up and storing energy as with anabolism.)
Mesomorph- Prioritize cardio over strength. You are naturally strong and have good power. Endurance tends to be your weakness. You tend to have a moderate carb tolerance which means you can handle them better within the workout window or upon waking after fasting. Mesomorphs do well when they balance the macros evenly with a slight favor toward carbohydrates.
Endomorph- Prioritize fat burning. Metcons and cardio workouts are especially helpful for you. Since your hormone profile includes higher levels of insulin, you tend to have a lower carb tolerance. You tend to do better with a higher fat and protein intake and lower carb intake. Since you are inclined to store fat, you should try to always balance strength training with cardio. Increasing your muscle mass will help ramp up your metabolism and reduce the amount of fat you store.
This is not to say that you cannot build muscle or lean out at any body type- you can. But knowing where your genetic advantages and challenges lie can help. Your type is not a box to cage you in. It is a tool to help you understand how your body burns food and builds muscle best. If you understand your own genetic advantages you can maximize your workouts to achieve your own specific goals. Our coaches are knowledgeable of nutrition and very helpful with getting you to your end goal. Don’t be afraid to utilize their expertise!
Which type am I?
The following is a rough test to help you determine which type you might be.
Body Type Test: