BCAA's : The 2018 Stance



BCAA supplements vs Real



For synthesis or the making of new muscle, all amino acids, essential and nonessential need to be present in adequate amounts within the body.

In the Sport Nutrition world, BCAA or Branched Chain Amino Acids are often discussed as the supplement that decreases the breakdown of muscle protein turnover in the body. In other words, many popular claims suggest BCAA supplement consumption during intense training or exercise increases the body’s ability to maintain or build muscle, decrease muscle soreness and recovery times.

An active person or athlete's objective in intense physical training is to build and shape muscles to get faster, stronger and more skilled in their desired activity or sport.  Naturally with this goal in mind, a person would want to know how to eat and potentially supplement themselves in order to increase their performance.

However, many current studies like the 2017’s Journal of the International Society of Sport Nutrition on BCAA and muscle protein synthesis specify no quantified studies in human subjects responding to orally-ingested BCAA.  If there was evidence of supplemented BCAA specifically benefiting active subjects, it was only in a small percentage of endurance athletes or those in prolonged exercise such as a triathlete, cyclist or marathon runner. There is lacking evidence in supplementation of solely BCAA, but some studies are showing a combination with a 6% carbohydrate solution in endurance sports.  Most findings suggest it is the inclusion of extra fuel or energy from the carbohydrate solution that benefits performance and not defined by the inclusion of BCAA supplements.

To debunk why BCAA originally came into play, approximately 30% of our bodies BCAA are stored in our muscle tissue and play an active role in muscle turnover.  There are 9 essential amino acids (EAA), three of which make up BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine and valine. There are also 11 nonessential amino acids (NEAA) and a few conditional amino acids (CAA). Amino acids are the building blocks of protein within our bodies and regulate metabolic processes. AA play a part in immune health and antibodies, and they transport oxygen and nutrients to the body. Those that are considered essential aminos are the 8 amino acids (AA) that adults must consume daily in our eating - the ninth, histidine, is only needed in infants-.  EAA are necessary for humans to consume daily because of our body’s physiological inability to manufacture these particular amino acids in significant enough amounts on it’s own. 

What is interesting is that BCAA are easily found in foods like chicken, beef, beans, fish, almonds, brown rice and eggs. Yet several active people believe BCAA are supplements. Moreover, these food sources are often already part of many active people’s eating regimens.  For those consuming whey protein powders, there is around 6 grams of BCAA for every 25 gram scoop.

BCAA supplements are suggested before or during exercise to improve or extend performance by reducing muscle fatigue.   They are usually in mixable powder form, added to water, but which have a shelf life likely to include artificial sweetening, flavouring and colouring.  Alike protein powders, supplement products are less bio-available than real food and something to consider when seeking our daily requirements. 

Lastly, price factor, convenience and motivation are all valid in considering the purchase and consumption of any BCAA sources. Being aware of what motivates us may be worth the financial cost, our schedules may not always allow for quality protein sources, or some athletes in extreme training may find it incredibly difficult to consume a large amount of their needs from food sources.  

As always, be mindful and inquisitive of where you get your information from; you are unique and your body has unique needs. The majority of current information regarding BCAA supplementation  and it's effects on preserving, increasing and building muscle are limited and inconclusive.

-Owner of SHOCK Performance Nutrition, Alex Paton

Disclaimer: Nutritition Graduates, Dietitians and Specialists provide health education and nutritional guides to clients, family and friends based on an in-depth assessment of a multitude of information.  We are taught within the national standards and regulating bodies like the Dietitians of Canada, to not use words like “prescribing” or conduct our practices telling clients they NEED certain supplements.

Specific to the individual, guiding a client on supplements or products that are not whole foods would be defined as a possibility if a professional assessment deemed a client’s background and behaviours suggested such a need. This is further based on their medical and genetic history, nutrient and blood work, activity and/or stress levels; values, preferences and behaviours regarding a client’s consumption of food, drink and supplementation.

*Many supplements on the market can be unsafe, if you have any questions or concerned about performance, please do not hesitate to ask info@shockperformance.com



BRANCHED-CHAIN AMINO ACID SUPPLEMENTATION TO SUPPORT MUSCLE ANABOLISM FOLLOWING EXERCISE Kevin D. Tipton, PhD, University of Stirling | Stirling, Scotland, UK. Sports Science Exchange (2017) Vol. 28, No. 170, 1-6

BRANCHED-CHAIN AMINO ACIDS AND MUSCLE PROTEIN SYNTHESIS IN HUMANS: MYTH OR REALITY? Robert R. Wolfe, Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2017 https://jissn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12970-017-0184-9


Detox or Live a life of Toxins?


New Year, New You! 

Welcome to your life, it is 2018 and you are ready to be everything you were not in 2017. Let’s get healthy together…. now what to do first? Especially if you want to be healthy NOW. Right now!

Here enters every person, product, and company that has been excitedly waiting to impact your eager New Year’s resolution desire: to be healthy and well A.S.A.P. 

When we start searching for health information, we come across a lot of new health plans and systems that really could make a difference for those of us that gained a few pounds or bloat over the holidays.

There are two common groups that promote detox diets as a solution to your healthy beginnings:

  1.  Product Companies that specialize in marketing certain and specific words to influence consumers          

  2.  Keen, Inspiring Health Coaches that really want to help others have the best life.

“Detoxing”, “Cleansing” and “Flushing” companies make you a promise that their product or service is necessary to help your body rid itself of toxins.

But why can’t the average post-holiday body rid itself of toxins?  To answer this, let’s assess this idea and take a little trip down Anatomy and Physiology lane.

Most generally healthy human bodies have two perfectly awesome organs called “the liver and the kidneys.”  The liver’s entire job is to self-cleanse the body while the kidneys duty is to excreting waste into the urine. Nothing, not even evil toxins, will store themselves in the liver or the kidneys. Unless a person has documented damage or disease in these organs, the body’s liver actively cleanses and kidneys excrete all by themselves. Fancy that.

Often detox products state rather convincing claims that our bodies need toxin removal, “our toxic society, polluted air and methods of food production present the need to eliminate pollution from our liver, lungs and colon. A clean colon is evidence of a healthy body.” No doubt, a healthy body is a healthy body, but what exact toxins are harming our bodies?  As stated above, our excretion systems will not store any toxins so how are they causing harm when present? Do these toxins have a name? How are they staying and impacting the body? What harm is being caused?  If these toxins are so dangerous to us, what are their names and how are we affected both short and long term.

Detox claims will further their rationale by describing symptoms you may be experiencing such as “headaches, fatigue, insomnia, hunger, or cancer risks.” Truly, if your body needs a detox, you need to get to a hospital.  Actual detoxification treatments are medical procedures that accredited professionals assess and administer, and these treatments are not available to consumers. Surprisingly, they are saved solely for people that need detoxification to stay alive.

The term detoxification is used by companies to legitimize their products to sound science-evidence based. Yet when we look into the science behind it, the facts allude to why we need it without telling us what “it” really is, at least factually.

I refer to this food marketing strategy as the “play on people’s desperations.” We want healthy, we want healthy now. And quick fixes are instantly satisfying.  Think of it if you were a marketer:


  • Scared of Cancer, Disease
  • Want to lose Weight
  • Want to feel like they care about the environment
  • Want to feel happy



  • Reassure them they will get what they want if they continually use our product.
  • Don’t want a headache? This solves headaches.
  • How? We don't know but we will market it anyways
  • It will make you happy, it will make you fit, it will increase energy


So let’s say we like what we are hearing and jump aboard the detox train. One of our healthy friends, who recently became a health coach swears by this detox product and the product line it came from.  They really want to help, are very knowledgeable and live a healthy life, they must know right! They know a lot about toxins in the body from reading nutrition books and articles and they are caring helpful people. We truly love motivation and when others help us get healthy, we trust them.

The product seems to be helping, so now is where we ask…. is there a defined time period we take this and then we become toxin-free? How will I know I am toxin-free, are there measurable changes in my blood levels, the way my organs function, etc.?

It would be fascinating for a product to explain when a detox is needed or to what end our goals with detoxing are achieved. But this information is not provided.  Some companies do suggest a time period to take their products, but lack the evidence to why that specific time period works.  We are all unique individuals with our own genetic dispositions, lifestyles, stressors and needs; we can’t all have the same detox time frame. But as a product company, why would you market like this?

To create big ticket sales, companies market their products to as many eligible candidates as possible.  This means making largely generalized claims rather than specific ones in order to cover a bigger market group. Bigger market group, bigger dollars. You may not have headaches or need to lose weight, but no one wants cancer.  The more the dramatic the claim, the more response to the pain, especially when using science jargon as fact. 

Surely, there has been a bachelor party, post exams, or a holiday celebration night of our lives we questioned our bodies ability to make it through, but when it did, what does that say about all the other days of our existence prior to detox products. 

In 2018, part of our getting healthy regimen means asking better questions and being cautious about who and why we trust them.  Seek professional knowledge, research peer-reviewed journals and fact check. Most importantly, trust your awesome body that with small changes to healthier eating, proper rest, stress management and an active lifestyle, your liver and kidneys will know just what to do.