In this continuing series of muscles for pennies, I present two amino acid supplements everyone should be considering: GABA and BCAAs.
There are many GH boosters begging for your dollars – everything from reasonably priced to absurd. I can recall an effervescent product years ago running over $100/month. It was largely powdered Arginine Pyroglutamate and Glycine in doses far below what you’d need orally to raise GH.
The issue is this: Scientists can do dazzling things in the lab with various amino acids, but they’re more often than not given intravenously and in high doses. In the real world, most amino acids are bitter as hell, have to be taken in multiple gram amounts and of course, they aren’t injected – they’re swallowed.
Having said that, there is an ideal solution: GABA
- 3 grams of GABA prior to training has been shown to boost biologically active GH no less than 480%, and that was in young adult males(1). A second GH spike can be had by taking 3-5 grams on an empty stomach prior to bed, and a third if you get up in the middle of the night.
- This strategy gives you 3 GH peaks during the day vs. just 1 for those not using GABA, and the increase with GABA prior to training is much more profound.
NOTE: GABA can make you drowsy, as it’s an inhibitory neurotransmitter. The pre-workout dose then should be consumed with enough caffeine to offset this. Its calming effect is ideal though, prior to sleep and getting back to sleep if waking during the night.
Keep expectations in check as even real, pharmaceutical-grade GH is slow to exert its effects. Over time though, a bit more muscle, less fat and strengthened connective tissue (mostly tendons) are what I’d call, the GABA advantage. One thing that shows up right quick though is this: MUCH deeper sleep.
Traditional low-calorie diets, as well as intermittent fasting, present a dilemma: Both tend to cause muscle loss. Since muscle loss or gain is a function of protein breakdown vs. synthesis, there are opportunities via nutrient intervention to skew things in our favor. Enter BCAAs...
Time and time again, BCAAs have been shown to not only stimulate protein synthesis but more importantly, protect against muscle loss – even in the face of low-calorie diets(2). There’s even evidence that they help athletes lose fat preferentially around the mid-section.
To achieve this effect, a dose of 5 grams of BCAAs at least 3x’s/day between meals. You’ll absolutely be leaner and retain more muscle by doing so.
Thankfully, both GABA and BCAAs are inexpensive and readily available. Put this dynamic duo to work for you, and reap the performance enhancement benefits!
- Powers, ME, et al. Growth hormone isoform responses to GABA ingestion at rest and after exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2008, Jan. 40(1):104-10
- Dudgeon, Wesley, et al. In a single-blind, matched group design: branched-chain amino acid supplementation and resistance training maintains lean body mass during a caloric restricted diet. ISSN. 2016, Jan.
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