BCAA and Keto: Can You Use BCAAs on Keto?
By Dr Joe
There seems to be some kind of conundrum regarding BCAA and keto. I’m sure you’d like to know the answer to 3 burning questions regarding bcaa and keto.
And the questions are:
Can you use BCAA on keto, do bcaas kick you out of ketosis and is bcaa good for keto. You’ll get your answers here straightaway.
Let me swift with the first question.
Can you use BCAAs on keto?
Answer: Yes, you can use BCAAs on keto. There’s nothing wrong in using BCAAs on the ketogenic diet. But you must time the use of BCAAs on keto to avoid the BCAAs kicking you out of ketosis.
The timing of the bcaa use is very crucial though, if you are to succeed when combining bcaa and keto.
BCAA supplements can play a fantastic role on the ketogenic diet. So, it is okay to have bcaas on keto. Not a problem.
In fact, using bcaa on keto should be encouraged. Why, because BCAAs offer immense benefits on the ketogenic diet. I shall be letting you into the benefits and the best timing for using bcaa on keto shortly.
So, keep reading…
Will BCAAs kick you out of ketosis?
In answering the question of whether bcaas kick you out of ketosis, I shall illustrate with my personal experience. I have tested BCAAs on the ketogenic diet and on various intermittent fasting regimes successfully.
I don’t need to introduce BCAAs to you. They are here and it looks like BCAAs are here to stay.
So, will bcaas kick you out of ketosis?
Answer: In all my testing, I can confirm that BCAAs will not kick you out of ketosis if you satisfy the following conditions:
- Use BCAAs at the right dosage
- Time your BCAA use appropriately
Yes, if you use the right dosage of bcaa supplements and you are on keto, you won’t be kicked out of ketosis.
And what is the right dosage of bcaas, I hear you ask?
The right dosage of bcaas is 5 – 10 mg daily. If you use this dose of bcaas on keto, you will remain in ketosis.
This is because this dosage is too small to trigger gluconeogenesis (the process of forming glucose from amino acids).
Gluconeogenesis is what kicks people out ketosis when they consume too much protein on the keto diet.
That won’t happen with such a small dose of BCAAs on keto. More so, if you satisfy the next condition.
And the next condition that protects you from being kicked out of ketosis when taking BCAAs on keto is; you have to use the bcaas at the right time.
What is the right time to use the BCAAs?
The right time to use bcaas on keto is around the time of your work out.
Preferably 30 minutes just before your workout. That is the best time because you set the nutrients ready for your muscles to soak up once the workout begins.
That way the amino acids in the BCAA get used up straightaway and do not run any risk of being converted to glucose.
If the amino acids do not have an opportunity to get converted to glucose, they will never kick you out of ketosis. Perfect!
If you don’t take your BCAAs 30 minutes before workout, make sure you take them straightaway after workout. That’s the second-best way of using bcaa on keto without running any risk of being kicked out of ketosis.
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BCAA and ketosis
Before we talk about bcaa and ketosis, it’s important I redefine what ketosis actually is. I know I have touched on the subject already but let’s zoom in, because it will give us a better understanding of the effect of bcaas.
What is Ketosis anyway?
Ketosis is a state where your body uses ketones for fuel instead of glucose. This is usually self-induced by changing the way you eat.
You consume very few carbs. Usually not more than 20 gm of carbs a day. In its place, you eat more of fat. You substitute carbs for fats.
By consuming so few carbs, you deplete your glycogen stores. This ensures your body uses fat for fuel. Your body has no choice but to use fat as energy source.
This is physiological ketosis as opposed to pathological ketosis that happens in diabetes, in particular type 1 diabetes. There is a difference.
So now let’s answer the 3rd question. Is bcaa good for keto?
Is bcaa good for keto?
Answer: The straight answer is; BCAA is actually good for keto.
But beyond that answer, you would also want ask yourself the question: do I need bcaa whilst doing keto?
That is a very valid question.
Truth be told. You don’t need BCAAs on ketogenic diet for it to work.
BCAAs are supplements and must be seen as such. You may or may not use them.
Whether you should use bcaas on keto or not would depend on what you are trying to achieve.
If you are on keto diet for simple fat loss without the need for muscle gain, then you do not need BCAA supplements at all.
You will lose weight on keto without bcaas.
However, if muscle gain and muscle protection are your objectives, then using BCAA supplements are a good thing on keto. In fact, you should welcome them into your training regime.
Mainly because BCAAs are good fit for those objectives.
So, yes, bcaa supplements are good for keto if you want to gain muscle with keto training regime mainly because of the positive effects of bcaa on muscle metabolism.
Let me give you 4 solid reasons why bcaa is good for keto.
Here we go…
1. BCAAs on Keto Prevents Restricted Diet Induced Muscle loss
Most weight loss programs result in some degree of muscle loss. Practically all of them. Some more than others.
This study for instance, seems to suggest that free fatty acids circulating during fasting has a protein conservation effect i.e muscle-sparing effect in humans.
Even though that experiment was carried out in fasting individuals, you could extrapolate that to the ketogenic diet. Why, because the physiologic events taking place in ketosis on ketogenic diet are more or less similar in intermittent fasting episodes.
Regardless, muscle loss happens more when the individual does little or no exercise whilst on the weight loss journey.
Muscle loss occurs because of the dietary restrictions that are necessary to induce fat loss.
BCAAs can prevent this muscle loss. This is one valid reason why bcaa supplements are good for keto.
One major physiological advantage of BCAAs is that they by-pass the liver, heading straight to muscles where the amino acids in the BCAA are needed most.
If you need reminding, the amino acids in BCAAs are leucine, Isoleucine and Valine. Leucine in particular plays a huge role in protein synthesis in the muscle.
BCAA amino acids presence inside the muscle is a major step in averting this nemesis of muscle loss in weight loss enthusiasts.
2. BCAAs on Keto Prevents Muscle loss during from exercise
You will be surprised to know that exercise paradoxically can lead to muscle loss. This is because exercise involving weights can be catabolic just like it can be anabolic.
Yes, there is a fair amount of protein breakdown that occurs during resistance training. If you do not feed your muscles properly before, during or after weight training, you can lose muscle because of the protein breakdown.
Remember, muscle is mainly protein. Breakdown a huge amount of protein during exercise through amino acid oxidation without replenishing it, will ultimately lead to muscle loss.
This muscle loss is however preventable. Preventable, only if you can provide your muscle cells with the right amino acids especially the essential amino acids that your body cannot synthesize.
A rich supply of essential amino acids. At the right time. During Exercise.
Enter BCAAs and you have just saved the day. Another valid reason why bccas are good for keto.
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3. BCAAs on Keto Promote Muscle gain
I have already alluded to the fact BCAAs promote protein synthesis through the mTOR pathway. You need amino acids for protein synthesis to materialize.
If you are going to gain muscle at all with your weights, you are going to need to synthesize some new proteins. There’s no workaround.
Muscle growth and new muscle could use some help from the amino acids in BCAAs.
That’s not all. BCAAs have a positive effect on Human Growth Hormone secretion as demonstrated in this study.
There was a consistent elevation of growth hormone following exercise supplemented by BCAAs. And this persisted in a chronic fashion. So, it wasn’t a fluke.
I do not need to tell you about the positive effects of human growth hormone on muscle building. If you don’t already know, please be aware that human growth hormone does wonders for your muscle gain amongst other things.
So, the muscle gain effect on keto is another reason why bcaas are good for keto.
4. BCAAs on Keto Prevents Exercise Fatigue
Nothing is worse when you want to exercise on a set diet like the ketogenic diet and you can’t reach your goals because of fatigue.
A lot of the time, exercise fatigue is a thing of perception rather than reality. And the chemical responsible for that feeling of fatigue resides in the brain.
It’s called 5-hydroxytryptamine or 5-HT for short.
The more 5-hydroxytryptamine you have circulating in your brain, the worse your perception of fatigue. Once that feeling becomes overwhelming, your exercise regime grind to a halt.
Well, using BCAAs during keto can stop that from happening. This means bcaas on ketogenic diet can help you exercise for longer enabling you reach your goals.
Why…because the amino acids in BCAA compete with tryptophan in the brain. This competition between the BCAA amino acids and tryptophan leads to a reduction in 5-hydroxytrytamine levels in the brain.
You want that.
Less 5-hydroxytryptamine, less perception of fatigue. Equates to longer exercise sessions. Goals achieved. Hurray!
So, even though you don’t necessarily need BCAAs on the ketogenic diet, they can constitute an important element of your ketogenic journey.
If your diet and fitness goals are best complemented by exercise, then BCAA supplements are a good fit for your keto goals.
Especially if muscle protection and muscle building are important to you.