Are BCAA’s worth it ?

491466926So you decided to lose weight.      51jDJj+UpYL.jpg

Maybe your doctor told you that you’re at risk of being pre-diabetic, maybe a friend tagged you in very unflattering, unsightly picture (oh, I’ve been there…), maybe you’re going on a trip down south or that bathing suit season is soon approaching, maybe you’re getting married or divorced.

Wether it be for health, quality of life, regaining control, improving appearance or general fitness people decide to slim down for a lot of reasons.

So, you went shopping, got brand spanking new gym clothes, got your gym membership and your workout plan ready, just bought a healthy grocery and now you’re at the supplement store.


Everything is over priced, the employee giving you advice is overweight and trying his hardest to make you buy the supplement line with the highest profit margin because he makes commission on it.

He’ll probably suggest a pre-workout (caffeine), maybe creatine, whey protein, maybe omega-3, a green supplement, glutamine, and surprise surprise BCAA.

What are BCAA ?

BCAA is short for Branched-Chains Amino Acids.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, muscle can’t grow without them. The ones that are sold at supplement stores usually contains 3 essential amino acids.



– Leucine


– Isoleucine

– Valine.



These 3 specifically are “essential” which means it needs to be provided by your diet since your body can’t synthetize it on its on.

Ok, Back to weight loss.

Now, for most people that means cutting their calories and ramping up the amount of cardio they’re doing. 


This can be problematic, especially when cutting  calories aggressivly for faster fat loss.

Increased cardio, when also cutting calories aggresively can lead to decreased muscle mass no.jpg

Catabolism – every bodybuilders nightmare


The body desperatly wants to hold on to its fat so it turns to its muscles to satisfy its energy needs (using muscle amino acids for metabolic fuel)


Decrease muscle mass leads to a decrease in resting basal metabolic rate (the amount of calories your body burn doing nothing)  and boom now you’re stuck doing more and more cardio in order to see ongoing weight-loss results. 

You become what we would call ”skinny fat” – I know, the phrase kind of defies logic. How can someone be skinny but fat at the same time ? What kind of satanic curse is this ?

We are refering to low levels of lean muscle mass but high levels of fat mass.

Here’s what i mean :


skinny fat.jpg

skinny fat.jpg

BCAA and weightloss 

This is where BCAA comes in :

Taking this supplement, before or during claims to delay fatigue.

Taking them post workout will ”lower muscle damage” by ”feeding the muscle” (replenishing amino acides) keeping you in an anabolic state.

It promises to :

  1. Increase protein synthesis (anabolic)
  2. Reduce protein breakdown (anti-catabolic) 

Yes, they are delicious but do you really need them to lose fat mass ?

A lot of studies have tried to prove ”The efficacy of branched chain amino acid (BCAA) supplementation and resistance training for maintaining lean body mass during a calorie-restricted diet” this occurring at the same time with losses in fat mass.

” Dudgeon et al.”

BUT looking more closely, the results seems to contradict the data concerning changes in fat mass.

They claimed a significant change in fat mass for the subject supplementing with BCAA compared to a placebo group (supplementing with a carbhohydrate beverage – like Powerade or Gatorade). Keeping in mind that all subjects were prescribed the same hypocaloric diet and exercise programs.

HOWEVER, while both group lost fat mass, the group supplementing with a carbs beverage actually lost more fat. Table 2 states that the BCAA group lost 0.6 kg of fat mass while the CHO group lost 1.4 kg.

Researchers often use the wrong statistical measures to analyze the data so that they can support their hypothesis (When supplement company finances the research it helps…). In other words, they make the numbers speak in their favor.

There are two very important points you’re not told about BCAA research:

1. Most Research usually demonstrates muscle-related benefits of BCAA supplementation on subjects that didn’t eat enough protein.

2. You can simply get your BCAAs from food instead, and this is cheaper and (in my opinion) more satisfying.

While it’s true that BCAAs are effective for preserving muscle, you’re paying for three amino acids but leucine is the only one that effectively suppresses muscle protein breakdown – Save money and get the same results by buying pure leucine.

My conclusion : BCAA are overrated

If you’re eating enough protein every day (before and after your workouts) you have no reason to add BCAAs to your monthly supplement bill.

P.s Avoid being ”Skinny Fat’, eat some protein, spend time in the weight room and start lifting more than 5lbs.




The Unbiased Truth about Artificial Sweeteners


On one hand, you have the people that are opposed to the use of artificial sweeteners sugarfree_tout1because of the  link with increased health risk  and other diseases. But on the other hand, if you’ve ever tried to reduce your sugar intake or lose weight by reducing the amount of calories in your diet, there’s no getting around it : you’ve probably turned to artificial sweeteners.

You can find these clever substances in a variety of food and beverages.

Marketed as “sugar-free” or “diet” chewing gums, soft drinks, baked goods, candy, ice cream, yogurt and even medication often contain artificial sweeteners.

There’s way too much research out there to cover comprehensively in a blog article, but I’ll try to cover the basics.

Here’s a chart that list some of the popular sugar substitutes by Mayo Clinic Medical Research:

Artificial sweeteners Sugar alcohols Novel sweeteners Natural sweeteners
Acesulfame potassium (Sweet One) Erythritol Stevia extracts (Pure Via, Truvia) Agave nectar
Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet) Hydrogenated starch hydrolysate Tagatose (Naturlose) Date sugar
Neotame Isomalt Trehalose Fruit juice concentrate
Saccharin (SugarTwin, Sweet’N Low) Lactitol Honey
Sucralose (Splenda) Maltitol Maple syrup
Mannitol Molasses



The topic of sweeteners can be confusing and have been heavily scrutinized over the years.

What are they exactly?


Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes known as intense sweeteners.

They’re many times sweeter than regular sugar and are an attractive alternatives to sugar because they add virtually no calories to your diet.


Health benefits of artificial sweeteners

  • Don’t contribute to tooth decay and cavities
  • Weight control; they are non-nutritive – they have virtually no calories.
  • Diabetes ; artificial sweeteners have no immediate, measurable effect on blood sugar level because they are not carbohydrates

Health concerns with artificial sweeteners

  • Laxative effect, bloating, intestinal gas and diarrhea when eaten in large amounts
  • Lab created, some people don’t like the thought of putting chemicals into their bodies
  • May have an impact on what you want to eat. There’s link between cravings and artificial sweeteners.
  • Taste. Some people just don’t like the taste of artificial sweeteners
  • May trigger headache pain or make users feel more tired
  • Recent research has revealed that artificial sweeteners may influence your health by changing the balance of bacteria in your gut.

Popular Myths

  1. Artificial sweeteners causes cancer

    Studies dating from 1970s found a link between saccharin and bladder cancer in laboratory rats. Because of those studies, saccharin once carried a warning label that it may be hazardous to your health. The mechanism behind these effects was later found to be specific to rats and not generalizable to other animals or humans. 

    A later study suggested that aspartame consumption caused brain tumors. The authors based this hypothesis on the fact that both brain cancer and aspartame consumption had increased since 1980 … despite not knowing whether the people getting brain tumors actually consumed artificial sweeteners

    However, these studies gave artificial sweeteners a bad reputation. Thanks to the media that tends to blow things way out of proportion, they never recovered.

  2. Eating artificial sweeteners guarantees I’ll lose weight

    For most people, the desire to reduce calorie consumption and lose weight is the primary motivation for consuming artificial sweeteners. While this is still being researched, some believe that diet food causes your brain to crave calories, leaving you eating more instead of less. This has something to do with tricking the activity in the reward processing regions of the brain. There can also be a “halo effect.” Many people think that because they are eating foods that are low in calories that leaves room to eat more. “The calories you save by drinking diet soda don’t counter-balance a high-calorie meal,”

  3. Sweeteners that are derived from stevia are the best choice Packets_Truvia.2e16d0ba.fill-735x490

    Raw stevia is not the same as the stevia-based products you buy at your local Sobeys. These are often bleached, added with fillers and end up being highly altered version of stevia (different on a molecular level).

    Also, Stevia is not FDA-approved. It can’t be sold as an artificial sweetner but only as a dietary supplement.


  1. Artificial sweeteners have been linked to a number of health conditions. However, the evidence are observational and doesn’t take other potential causes into account.
  2. Swapping added sugar for artificial sweeteners may help people who are trying to lose weight, manage diabetes and improve their dental health
  3. The short-term use of artificial sweeteners hasn’t been shown to be harmful.


Should I consume sweeteners?

My conclusion might seem a little anticlimactic after all that information, but my goal here is to help you make an informed choice.

Sweeteners are new to the human diet and my moto is “guilty until proven innocent” so personally i try to avoid them.

If you don’t need to watch your calories or your blood sugar levels, there is no real reason to use the sweeteners unless you just happen to like the taste . While artificial sweeteners are perhaps not as scary as some might believe, I don’t recommend including them in your diet just for fun.


Is Breakfast Really Your Most Important Meal

To eat breakfast or to not eat breakfast – That is the real question.

Breakfast – There are those who can’t start their day without it and there are others (like me) who are grossed out by the thought of any type of food passing their lips before lunch (with the exception of coffee of course)


Once upon a time, a popular nutrition author named Adelle David told people to eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a poor and her advice stuck.

But what does scientific research say?

Should we indeed have our biggest meal at breakfast or skip it all together like I do?

Skipping breakfast, a popular form of intermittent fasting, is a practice that I believe, SOME people can benefit from. I have discovered that what I eat (or what I don’t eat) in the mornings has an enormous impact on how I think and feel for the rest of the day.

But when I try to explain it to others I get the same reactions:

  1. That is so unhealthy, aren’t you starving? (No)
  2. Nutrition guidelines recommend that we eat breakfast! (Canada’s existing healthy eating guidelines are also ‘’one-size-fits-all, has ambiguous serving sizes and is painfully outdated)
  3. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day (Depends on the context)
  4. You’ll miss out on micronutrients (Nah, I just eat my fiber and vitamins later in the day)
  5. You’ll ruin your blood sugar levels, you’ll have no energy and your mood will get affected (I adapt)

There are few truths that may have contributed to breakfast receiving this lofty titles but, after close examination, they might not have the weight of evidence you might expect …

Does skipping breakfast make you eat more?

Skipping breakfast causes the brain to react more to tasty foods (high in sugar, fats and sodium) hence you tend to eat more at lunchtime BUT most studies show that skipping breakfast results in lower total energy intake over the course of the day.


In other words, skip breakfast, skip the calories.

Despite greater hunger in the morning and some compensation during lunch, the effect of skipping breakfast doesn’t seem great enough to make people overshoot and eat two boxes of cookies, a jar of peanut butter, a large combo at Wendy’s and a small village later on during the day.

Doesn’t breakfast ‘kick start’ your metabolism?

Biology 101 : When you eat, your body needs energy to digest and store what you just ingested. This is called thermogenisis. So, yes, breakfast does kick-start your metabolism.


But there is a major problem with pinning all of your hopes on this “jump start”.

For normal people, thermogenesis count for only 10% of the calories you burn on a regular basis. So to conclude, your basal metabolic rate and the amount of physical activity you do has way more impact on the amount of calories your burn in a day.

Skipping breakfast can make some individuals feel less energetic so they might reduce their levels of physical activity without consciously realising it and gain weight – I say drink more caffeine.

Does skipping breakfast make you gain weight?

We’ve all heard it before: Skipping breakfast is associated with obesity.

But this doesn’t necessarily mean that skipping breakfast CAUSES the weight gain.

Several randomized trials (where people are randomly assigned to a certain behaviour, such as eating breakfast or skipping breakfast) have NOT found any evidence suggesting that skipping breakfast causes weight gain.

Correlation doesn’t imply causation.

So, should you eat breakfast?

Public wisdom suggests that, yes, you should eat breakfast.

But the current state of scientific evidence means that, unfortunately, the simple answer is: I don’t know.

It depends.

Whether you are a religious breakfast consumer or a skipper, keep in mind that both sides might have some merits and the answer is probably not as simple as you’ve been led to believe.

Benefits of eating Breakfast

Benefits of skipping Breakfast

  • Small metabolism boost
  • Can improve weight loss by reducing caloric intake
  • Prevents overeating at your next meal
  • Reduces overall inflammation
  • Helps lower LDL cholesterol
  • Improve digestive health
  • Feel more energized
  • Reduces blood glucose levels
  • Promotes physical activity
  • Increase insulin sensitivity
  • Enhances memory and attention span
  • Increase HGH level
  • Enhance mood
  • Enhanced immunity

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