By: Matt Weik
If you’re looking to add quality mass to your physique, you know that it takes a lot of hard work and dedication just to see the smallest of gains. While breaking down the muscle is one of the steps in attaining hypertrophy, there are other options you should consider implementing. Sure, protein is essential to helping rebuild torn down muscle fibers but it’s the amino acids that you should pay special attention to – especially EAAs (essential amino acids).
For the longest time, many considered BCAAs as the “holy grail” and what everyone should be using intra-workout to aid in muscle growth. People were so afraid that if they didn’t consume a BCAA drink mix that their gains would disappear faster than a Yankees fan in Boston.
Well, recent studies have shown that if hypertrophy and muscle growth is your goal, that EAAs are more important in the grand scheme of things. Does that mean BCAAs are worthless? No. But, you’re missing a vital piece of your muscle growth potential if you aren’t including EAAs in your supplement regimen. If you want the best of both worlds, you should combine the two!
We have all come to understand that amino acids are the building blocks when it comes to muscle growth. BCAAs, however, are "incomplete" in a sense, and research has shown that we need essential amino acids (EAAs) to truly become an anabolic powerhouse.
Today, we have a better understanding of how useful BCAAs (leucine, isoleucine, valine) are in terms of muscle recovery and muscle retention, but we now also have a better understanding that when BCAAs are combined with EAAs, the benefits and muscle growth potential is even greater.
When BCAAs are used alone, they are not capable of building lean muscle mass or even creating a strong enough anabolic response to aid in the growth of muscle tissue. Toss in EAAs and it’s like flipping the light switch on to help you become more anabolic and increase your ability to add quality muscle to your physique.
To further explain how powerful EAAs are, researchers conducted a study using elderly individuals who were confined to bed rest. These individuals were not able to exercise or stimulate their muscles to maintain or even build lean mass. The study showed that even though no exercise was implemented or completed, these elderly individuals who were given EAAs were still able to maintain protein synthesis while the control group who did not receive EAAs showed a decrease of around 30%1.
In a separate study, researchers further showed the anabolic benefits of supplementing with EAAs. As we age, testosterone begins to decline (generally starting around the age of 30). When this happens, maintaining lean muscle tissue can be an uphill battle. When individuals were provided EAAs, participants of the study showed an increase in lean body mass, IGF-1 levels, and basal muscle protein synthesis when compared to the control group2.
Another amazing finding from supplementing with EAAs is their ability to increase testosterone levels while decreasing harmful cortisol levels3. It’s commonly understood that when you have low testosterone and high cortisol, it’s nearly impossible to build muscle. Additionally, the high cortisol levels may also cause you to hold onto and store body fat which is the opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish.
Are you currently cutting but want to hold onto the hard-earned muscle you have built during your bulk? If so, you want to pay attention. When you put yourself in a caloric deficit, whether it be to get ready for a competition or to simply get in better shape and improve your health, you risk potentially burning (or wasting) lean muscle mass.
Essentially, your lean muscle tissue at that point is being used as fuel – putting you in a catabolic state. You can help prevent this from happening by supplementing with a product including EAAs or consuming foods that contain natural forms of essential amino acids.
Some common foods that contain essential amino acids are beef, tuna, chicken breast, and turkey breast. That’s great if you can consume those types of protein sources in each meal, but most likely people aren’t able to consume enough to have it truly make a significant difference when it comes to packing on the size they are looking for. Because of this, it's recommended that you pick up the supplement version which is a much more convenient source of EAAs. All you need to do is simply add water or add it to a protein shake and you’re good to go.
Not all EAAs are created equal. And most supplement companies don’t want you to know the difference because they’re using less expensive and lower quality EAAs in their formulas. When you look on the shelves at your local supplement retailer or online, you’re primarily going to find generic EAAs. MPA took things to the next by creating a product using only the highest quality pharmaceutical-grade EAAs.
In order to claim something as pharmaceutical-grade, the ingredient needs to oblige by set standards of the United States Pharmacopeia (USP) but also follow a precise pharmaceutical monograph that describes an ingredient in full-disclosure.
MPA PharmGrade EAA contains over 13g of pharmaceutical-grade AjiPure® EAAs per serving. To make this the ultimate intra-workout supplement, PharmGrade EAA also includes cellular hydration ingredients like coconut water powder and Himalayan pink sea salt to help improve fluid balance.
When you want the highest quality and best-tasting EAAs on the market, MPA has you covered!
Matt Weik, the owner of Weik Fitness, LLC, is a well-respected fitness expert/author with a global following. His work has been featured all over the globe as well as having published numerous books. He is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, personal trainer, and sports nutritionist. Find out more at www.weikfitness.com or on social media @weikfitness.