When Whey & Casein Unite in the Spirit of True Physique Improvements, BCAAs & Glutamine Better Shut the F*** Up

Ever wondered, why you hit a plateau, "although" you've started to use this whey protein w/ extra aminos?
I have to admit this is not a new paper and though I have not written about it explicitly, some of you will probably have seen me cite it in previous posts. With some recent rambling about how great BCAAs were and that whey alone could never achieve what its overpriced, but revenue generating parts could do, I just felt inclined to dig into the archives of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research to bring back up one of those excellent randomized controlled, double-blinded long-term resistance training + supplementation studies, you won't find in the supplement write-ups very often, 'cause they would make most of the "great innovations" look pathetic.
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In the case of the paper Chad D. Kersick et al. published in the March Edition of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in 2006. The latter, i.e. the looking pathetic applies to the combination and addition of "extra-anabolic" amino acids in form of BCAAs and glutamine to a simple whey protein supplement.

Table 1: Overview of the resistance training progamm (Kersick. 2006)
And when I am talking about "looking pathetic" I do not refer to the packaging or the powder itself; no, not even to the strength gains, which were more or less identical in all of the 36 resistance-trained males men (mean age 31, 84kg, 17% body fat) who followed the 4-day training protocol you see in Table 1 for 12(!) weeks.

That was a pretty long time, and as you can see in Figure 1, it was long enough to produce significant results. Significant results that tell you that the only addition you want to make to your cheap whey protein is some (not so cheap) micellar casein to achieve what I outlined in Mai 2012 and on countless other occasions, a stable hyper-aminoacidemia (= elevated levels of amino acids in the blood) for several hours (learn more)

As you should be able to see even without scrutinizing the bars in Figure 1, the latter lead to significant increases in lean mass in an already resistant trained group of subjects.
Figure 1: Changes in total body mass, lean mass and fat mass
The addition of 3g of BCAAs and 5g of glutamine, on the other hand, "made" the whey protein as "anabolic" *lol* as the 48g of plain sugar the CHO control group was guzzling their shakes within 2h (ideally immediately after) their workouts.

"That's not true, 'cause I've had great success with bullocks advanced proteins!"

Now, I obviously know already that there are certain people who don't like to hear facts like this. These people who are actually oftentimes only unwilling to admit that they have been screwed who will now probably be freakin' out about "what if"s like "What if the casein made them hungry, so that they ate much more" ... I hear ya, folks, but how would that explain that the fat mass of the whey + casein (WC) group increased by 100g, while the guys on the "advanced" formula gained 200 albeit statistically non-sigificant grams?
Table 2: Energy & macro-nutrient intake in the whey + casein (WC), whey + BCAA + glutamin (WBG) and the carbohydrate control (P) group (Kersick. 2006).
Furthermore, the data in Table 2 clearly indicates that the only significant difference in terms of the total energy intake and the macronutrient content of the diets was the intended difference in protein content between the WC & WBG group and the P, i.e. the carbohydrate control group.
Figure 2: Leucine balance as a measure of protein balance after the ingestion of different forms of protein / amino acids (same net nitrogen load; Dangin. 2001; Bilsborough. 2006)
What? But that's impossible, right!? If we do have a closer look at what Dangin et al. found out about the digestion rate of protein as an independent regulating factor of postprandial protein retention (see Figure 2) and assume that the addition of BCAA and glutmine in this study could have had a similar negative effect on the total net protein retention as the free form amino acid supplement, the six young man in Dangin's study consumed, it does no longer sound impossible that not a single gram of what were effectively 48g of protein ended up in their biceps, triceps, chest, quads, hams, etc. for which there was no leucine or any other aminos left, when the free form AAs switched their bodies into "protein wasting mode".

Dangin's study did after all demonstrate that the same amino acids you will find in casein will induce a negative leucine balance, when they are administered in their isolated (see Figure 2). If you are still not angry that you've been fooled time and again, you probably haven't bought any of the pertaining "improved protein" let alone "pro-anabolic free form amino acid supplements" in the past decade - lucky you; and don't tell me you just couldn't afford it ;-)
  • Bilsborough, Shane, and Neil Mann. "A review of issues of dietary protein intake in humans." International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism 16.2 (2006).
  • Dangin, Martial, et al. "The digestion rate of protein is an independent regulating factor of postprandial protein retention." American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology And Metabolism 280.2 (2001): E340-E348.
  • Kerksick, Chad M., et al. "The effects of protein and amino acid supplementation on performance and training adaptations during ten weeks of resistance training." The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research 20.3 (2006): 643-653.
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