Tags Posts tagged with "protein"


When we think intra-workout supplementation, we often find ourselves thinking BCAA, BCAA, BCAA, but what about Essential Amino Acids (EAAs)? For years we’ve been led to believe that BCAAs are all you need for intra-workout supplementation, but research shows that isn’t the case [1].

BCAA use has been promoted in various manners:

  1. All day sipping, which turned out to blunt MPS (muscle protein synthesis) signaling. This is counterproductive to muscle growth and recovery, and thus should not be promoted as a way to flavor your water.
  2. Intra-workout usage. This is not helpful since it takes all of the EAAs to reap the benefits of intra-workout use (see article below).
  3. Using BCAA’s between meals to signal muscle protein synthesis. This would be beneficial for those in a caloric deficit as an “anti-catabolic” agent, but once again does not work (see reference 1). Dieter et al. (2016) found that the usage of BCAAs does not lead to an increase of fat-free index in those dieting while supplementing with BCAAs [1]. This is a finding consistent with lots of BCAA studies [2].

Essentially BCAAs are not the Holy Grail we’ve been led to believe by supplement companies.

What does Leucine do?

Leucine itself is a tricky beast. Leucine can increase MPS by 30%. Leucine, in theory, works because it is a rate-limiting step in protein synthesis. By supplementing Leucine, you get around the rate-limiting step. Rate limiting step, in this case, refers to the means in which a process is limited (i.e. without more leucine, MPS rates are limited). This is due to an intracellular anabolic signaling, which is increased when leucine is supplemented. Leucine, however, is not the only important component of this process as it does require the other Essential Amino Acids to work best. A major limitation in these studies is that in humans skeletal muscle is a small amount of your total body mass [2].

What about EAA’s?

A 2011 study performed by the US military (meaning these are very fit individuals) studied the effects of EAA supplementation during endurance exercise; they were interested to see the effects of EAA supplementation on postexercise skeletal muscle metabolism. This study examined the effects of 10 g of EAAs in two different groups: a 3.5g Leucine group or a 1.87g Leucine group [3]. Subjects performed one hour of slow steady state (endurance) exercise while consuming their BCAA/EAA mixture over the course of two weeks.

The interesting finding of this study was that muscle protein synthesis (MPS) was as much as 33% greater in the 3.5g Leucine group than the 1.87 g leucine group. This shows that leucine amount is key to activating MPS. They also found that whole body protein breakdown was lower. So you may be thinking to yourself, well that’s pretty common sense, leucine activates MPS so what makes this study unique?

  1. This study was done by the US Military, so there is no inherent bias from the funding source.
  2. This study shows the importance of Leucine and shows that the ratio of BCAA’s is not important.
    For years, people have touted the so-called “2:1:1” ratio as best (oddly enough, a majority of research is actually not using the so-called “2:1:1” ratio that is being touted as best [4]), but this study shows that ratio does not matter. The high Leucine group in this study used essentially a 4:1:1 ratio (refer to figure 1). This study shows as long as you get enough EAA’s, Leucine content is what’s most important, not the ratio. This study also highlights the importance of EAA’s during endurance exercise; an area of research that BCAA’s alone have been unable to do so far.
  3. The lack of Carbohydrates. A large number of studies investigating the effects of BCAA’s confound the research findings by including Carbohydrates with their BCAA or EAA mixture. Not all athletes consume carbohydrates during exercise, making the findings of those studies difficult to extrapolate into real-world results. We currently live in an industry that is petrified of carbohydrates even though they have lots of ergogenic potential.
eaa ratio chart
Figure 1

Why are these findings important? Unlike resistance exercise, endurance exercise is truly catabolic. Endurance exercise results in lower rates of MPS and plasma Leucine concentration [3]. This means when you are performing endurance exercise, not only are you deficient in plasma Leucine content in your bloodstream, but you are also deficient in stimulating muscle protein synthesis as well. This one-two combination can have a major catabolic effect on your body. The data from the US military study indicates that increasing Leucine availability during endurance exercise promotes skeletal muscle protein anabolism and spares endogenous protein. This prevents the catabolic effects of endurance exercise.

What about protein?

According to the U.S. Dairy Council, Whey Protein offers the highest concentration of BCAAs of any dietary source of Protein at about 26 g of BCAAs per 100g of Protein. Whey protein itself has a multitude of benefits and has the optimal amount of BCAA’s/EAA’s one would use when using an intra-workout product. This means if you are simply low on money, Whey Protein is your best chance to make sure you are getting an increase in muscle protein synthesis rate (refer to figure 2). It is important to note that BCAA & EAA products provide “free form” amino acids, so they do not count towards your daily protein intake, and that they do contain calories unlike what you see on most supplement facts for most Amino products.

Whey Protein EAA Ratio
Figure 2

Take Home Message

So what’s the take-home message? Well, if you are going to take additional amino acids in your diet through a supplement, there are only two things you really should look for:

  1. Leucine content. Know how much you are consuming. Take at least 2.5 g or more.
  2. Take Leucine with additional EAAs. Also make sure you take the full 10 grams, which does include the Leucine content.

Do not just take BCAAs, because if you are going to be supplementing, you should supplement what is needed…Essential Amino acids with a high Leucine content. Anyone selling an EAA product with a proprietary blend under 10 grams is not doing you any favors.

Product Recommendations

intra-blast-productThe top supplement in this category hands down is NutraBio Intra Blast. Intra Blast is the gold standard for Essential Amino Acid products and has been for years. It features a full 10g EAA’s (including an optimal dose of Leucine at 3.6g) along with Glutamine, Betaine, OKG, Taurine, and Electrolytes. Other EAA products sometimes cost less but do not offer the optimal Leucine dosage or overall EAA dosage.

Shop All EAA's



  1. Dieter, B. P., Schoenfeld, B. J., & Aragon, A. A. (2016, May 11). The data do not seem to support a benefit to BCAA supplementation during periods of caloric restriction. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. BioMed Central Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12970-016-0128-9
  2. Wolfe, R. (2017). Branched-chain amino acids and muscle protein synthesis in humans: myth or reality?. J Int Soc Sports Nutri 14:30.
  3. Pasiakos, S. M., McClung, H. L., McClung, J. P., Margolis, L. M., Andersen, N. E., Cloutier, G. J., Pikosky, M. A., et al. (2011). Leucine-enriched essential amino acid supplementation during moderate steady state exercise enhances postexercise muscle protein synthesis. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 94(3), 809-818.
  4. Norton LE, Layman DK. (2006). Leucine regulates translation initiation of protein synthesis in skeletal muscle after exercise. J Nutr. 136:533S–7S.

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Sludge Recipes

Haven’t heard of protein sludge?

Your loss!

It’s only some of the tastiest, easiest to make, protein “food”.

It’s fun too, because you can mix and match the ingredients depending on your mood.

The foundation is just a scoop of protein powder, some peanut butter or almond butter, and a liquid (milk, almond milk, water, orange juice, etc).

Mix it all together with a spoon, and go to town!

I actually like to add a “crunchy” part to this formula. This will add even more calories, which is great if you’re trying to gain weight.
I prefer to use granola or cereal. Just slowly add it into the wet mixture, until you get the desired consistency.

Here are some recipes from around the Interwebz:

1. Sludge with Marc Lobliner

Here is the “creator” of Sludge, Marc Lobliner, way back in 2009. He likes using blueberries with his sludge, but I’ve never been a fan of that. At least not with chocolate protein powder.


2. Protein Candy Sludge

Protein Candy Sludge
This recipe is not as healthy as others, since it has you adding in random candy bars and whatnot. But it’s still packed with protein, and delicious!

Recipe here


3. Basic Sludge

Basic Sludge Recipe
Pretty basic recipe for this one, but a good foundation.

Recipe here


mts machine whey discount code sludge


4. Chocolate Almond Butter Sludge

Chocolate Almond Butter Sludge
This is going to be more of a “fudge-y” recipe, so check it out if you’re into that!

Recipe here


5. Strawberry Pop Shot Sludge

Strawberry Pop Shot
Sludge can be fruity too! Here’s a tasty strawberry version.

Recipe here


6. Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Sludge
We saved the best for last. Look at that pic! How could you not want to eat it!?
I love my sludge crunchy, and this recipe is amazing.

Recipe here

Do you have you own favorite sludge recipe? Share it below!

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How much protein is enough?

Whether you want to lose weight or build muscle, protein is the most important macronutrient that needs to be included in your diet. Protein has many functions in the body, but for those aiming to get in shape, the most relevant is that protein is responsible for building and repairing muscles. So as long as protein is taken alongside a reasonable exercise plan, it helps create shapely muscles and a toned body. However with so much information available these days, it’s hard to find out how much protein is sufficient for someone who wants to lose weight, build muscle, participate in sport or just wants to know. This article will reveal the most well researched suggested protein intakes for men.

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BPI protein

Have you ever wondered how your favorite protein powder came to be, or better yet wondered if the contents of the container are what the label actually says? BPI Sports co-founder James Grage has taken great strides in sports nutrition by providing you peace of mind with the introduction of a third party testing agency called Chromadex.

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Amino Spiking

If you’re not familiar with amino-spiking, it’s basically a way for manufacturers to sell you a cheaper, lower quality product, without reflecting that on the label. It makes it really difficult for customers to decide which protein is actually good quality.

You can read about it in detail here

Purus Labs was not one of the companies spiking their protein, and they have come up with a solution to prove it.

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ON Protein Energy flavors
ON Protein Energy flavors

Optimum Nutrition Protein Energy

Do you often find that you struggle to get yourself out of bed in the morning? For most people, there are two primary issues they deal with in the morning.

First, having enough energy to get out of bed and get their day going.

Second, getting in some lean protein to help fuel their day.

Fortunately, Optimum Nutrition has just made achieving both of these objectives easy with their new Protein Energy product.

Let’s take a closer look at what this product is all about and why you might want to consider trying it yourself.

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You might have heard of Bulletproof Coffee. Basically it’s just coffee with grass-fed butter and MCT Oil mixed in.

The grass-fed (try to get organic also) butter is much different than regular butter, as a result of the cows’ diet. There are many more vitamins and Omega-3’s in grass fed butter. This is good fat, don’t be scared!

The MCT Oil is optional. Some claim it enhances the effects of the coffee, and doesn’t leave you jittery or crashing a few hours later. What we do know for sure, is that MCT Oil is extremely good for you. This type of fat gets processed directly by your liver, which means you get immediate energy and thermogenesis (increased body temperature).

Energy + fat burning, not bad huh?

And then of course you’re adding about 25g of protein to fuel your muscles.

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I’m going to show you how to make some delicous and healthy protein “bars”. I put it in quotes because they aren’t really like bars… they fall apart pretty easily… but they still are delicious!