Product Review: At Large Nutrition BCAA+

bcaa265The latest stop on Furby’s World Tour of Supplements takes us to At Large Nutrition.  I first learned of ALN from my good friend (and MWG sponsor) Tony Ramos of Swollen Knuckles.

When Tony found out I was conducting reviews of different supplements, he suggested I check out ALN.  I was further encouraged by the fact that once I visited the website (and during subsequent conversations with the company’s owner), I learned that UFC fighter Matt Brown uses At Large Nutrition products.

Tony put me in touch with At Large Nutrition Owner/Founder Chris Mason and then Chris was kind enough to send me a full range of products to sample.  This review focuses on At Large Nutrition’s BCAA+.

From AtLargeNutrition.com:

AtLarge Nutrition’s BCAA+ contains the branched chain amino acids (BCAA) leucine, isoleucine, and valine plus the amino acid glutamine.

Each of these ingredients can significantly improve your training results. Direct effects include (but are not limited to):

* improved response to training (i.e. bigger and stronger muscles)
* faster recovery
* reduced muscular soreness

BCAA: support intense training via a reduction in muscular damage, enhanced recovery, or both (1).

An anabolic state after intense training optimizes the body’s ability to recover and possibly supercompensate (grow bigger, stronger, or both). To achieve an anabolic state protein synthesis (the formation of new protein) must be stimulated and protein breakdown must be reduced. BCAA can do both.

BCAA potently stimulate protein synthesis. In fact, a relatively small dose of leucine by itself can stimulate protein synthesis equivalently to that of a much larger dose of a complete protein.

BCAA supplementation has also been shown to have a significant anti-catabolic (reduction of protein breakdown) effect via the suppression of post-training cortisol levels (1). This cortisol lowering effect also seems to promote increased serum testosterone levels in the post-workout environment (1). Testosterone has its own well known anabolic and anti-catabolic properties.

Glutamine: supplementation has a myriad of performance and recovery supporting effects.

High intensity exercise is glycogen dependent. Glutamine is an intermediate metabolite of the Krebs cycle and is thought to make the formation of glucose from non-carbohydrate sources more efficient thus providing more glucose for both glycogen replenishment and for use during intense exercise (2).

During inflammatory states such as those that might be incurred from a heavy training cycle, intramuscular stores of glutamine are significantly reduced leading to increased rates of protein breakdown (3). This obviously negative effect can be significantly mitigated via glutamine supplementation.

Glutamine is also of great importance to the immune system (serving as a ‘fuel’ for many immune cells) and thus the body’s reaction to the stress of intense training (3). A specific example of glutamine’s role in the immune system can be seen in the phenomena of overtraining. Part of the immune suppression that occurs during overtraining is attributable to glutamine use outstripping the body’s ability to synthesize it. Glutamine supplementation may thus help to prevent or reduce overtraining via promoting the maintenance of baseline blood plasma levels during intense training periods .

I had the opportunity to sample the Fruit Punch BCAA+.  First of all, let me say this – outside of my favorite protein powder this was, hands down, the greatest tasting supplement that I have had the opportunity to sample.  The fruit punch flavor was extremely on point, and tasted like Kool-Aid.  The only two “problems” that I had with this supplement were that 1) I had a hard time not drinking it all the time, and subsequently; 2) I wish the bottle was about three times as big as it was.

A bottle of BCAA+ has 30 servings, and each serving clocks in at only 26 calories.  The instructions suggest mixing one scoop with eight ounces of water, but I would typically mix it with 12-16 ounces to cut the flavor down just a little bit.  Even with this, it still had a great fruit punch taste and did not taste watered down at all. I would typically drink it starting in the middle of my workout, and then have another scoop afterwards if I felt like I needed it.

I used the BCAA+ for approximately 20 days, because some days I would use two scoops instead of one.  I had little to no muscle soreness throughout this time, and had increased the number of repetitions I was doing three times during the period, and increased the overall weights I was using once.

I found this product to be highly effective.  This is not like a preworkout product, where you start to feel a buzz as soon as you drink it – my experience was that after drinking it, I simply felt great.  Fast recovery, and as I stated, little to no muscle soreness.   This was the first BCAA powder that I tried and I was definitely pleased with the results.

No shaker cup or blender is needed to mix the powder – I simply put a scoop in with 12-16 ounces of water in a normal water bottle and shook it up and it mixed just fine with very little settling.  The powder form allows the product to get into your system faster than a pill form.

A bottle of the BCAA+ costs $25.95 plus shipping.  When I searched similar products on a couple popular supplement sites, I found that the ALN blend sits on the top shelf in terms of cost.  However, it is typically no more than $3.00-$5.00 more than other popular brands, and is a couple dollars less than some other well-known brands

For more information and to see the wide range of products and equipment that ALN has to offer, visit AtLargeNutrition.com, like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter, @AtLargeNut.

I emailed back and forth with Chris a number of times, and found him to be easily approachable and very willing to help.  We discussed optimum times to take the supplements, and I liked Chris’s very down-to-earth, realistic style.  One of the things that made me want to try ALN’s supplements was the video below, which can be found on their website.  It can, very simply, answer the question of why you should try their supplements.

 

 1.Sharp, CPM and Pearson, DR. Amino acid supplements and recovery from high-intensity resistance training. J Strength Cond Res. 24(4): 1125-1130, 2010.

2.Favano A, Santos-Silva PR, Nakano EY, Pedrinelli A, Hernandez AJ, Greve JMD. Peptide glutamine supplementation for tolerance of intermittent exercise in soccer players. Clinics. 2008;63(1);23-32.

3.Newsholme, P. Why is l-glutamine metabolism important to cells of the immune system in health, post-injury, surgery or infection? J Nutr. 131: 2515S-2522S, 2001.

* The above statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not meant to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.